For its 9th edition, the Moscow Urban Forum continues to consolidate as one of the world’s most relevant urban conferences, bringing together a diverse group of architects, urbanists, city mayors, government officials, economists, developers, academics, citizens, and professionals from diverse fields and nationalities.
While Pierre de Meuron’s main keynote puts focus on ongoing developments in the city of Moscow, by showcasing the ambitious scheme to redevelop the Badaevskiy Brewery, the lectures and presentations acknowledged the diverse areas that shape the city, including topics such as mental health, lifestyle of the millennial generation, evolution of work, or delivery platforms. The evolution of the role of the architect was present, with a growing number of professionals now working on startups in the tech, infrastructure, real estate, construction, and mobility sectors, the new city makers.
Amidst efforts to revitalize and improve urban centers, the peripheral areas of cities are often ignored or forgotten. The intense focus on the downtown core means, in terms of land use, that only a relatively small area receives the majority of designers’ attention. "Dvorulitsa" (literally "Yardstreet" in Russian) is an urban development strategy proposed by Russian architecture firm Meganom, aiming to shift that focus. Taking the idea of the “superpark” from the 2013 study, "Archaeology of the Periphery," the yardstreet project presents an alternative method of viewing the periphery of a post-soviet city.
Our experience of information is changing. We now consume more and more information digitally, with much of this being non-textual. Videos, photos and GIFs have become commonplace, with technology allowing these mediums to be as easily shareable as text. This gives way to another trend: the increase in the number and accessibility of online platforms. Not only is more information being digitized, but more dynamic ways of digitization are being developed; multimedia articles and online exhibitions, for example, hope to provide a more engaging way of sharing information.
Yuri Grigoryan founded Project Meganom in 1999 in Moscow with his partners Alexandra Pavlova, Iliya Kuleshov, and Pavel Ivanchikov. Together, the group all graduated from Moscow’s Architectural Institute, MArchI in 1991, the year of the Soviet Union’s collapse, and then practiced at the studio of Moscow architect Alexander Larin. Today Project Meganom is headed by Grigoryan, Iliya Kuleshov, Artem Staborovsky, and Elena Uglovskaya, and keeps in close contact with the theoretical side of architecture: Grigoryan teaches at his alma mater and until recently he was the Director of Education at Strelka Institute, founded in 2009 under the creative leadership of Rem Koolhaas, while in 2008 the practice was involved in the Venice Architecture Biennale with their San Stae project for curator Yuri Avvakumov's “BornHouse” exhibition. All of this gives Grigoryan an interesting overview of Russia's unique architectural context. In this interview from his “City of Ideas” column, Vladimir Belogolovsky speaks with Grigoryan about the issues facing Russian architecture and how Project Meganom has responded to those challenges.
When it comes to urbanism these days, people’s attention is increasingly turning to Moscow. The city clearly intends to become one of the world’s leading megacities in the near future and is employing all necessary means to achieve its goal, with the city government showing itself to be very willing to invest in important urban developments (though not without some criticism).
A key player in this plan has been the Moscow Urban Forum. Although the forum’s stated goal is to find adequate designs for future megacities, a major positive side-effect is that it enables the city to organize the best competitions, select the best designers, and build the best urban spaces to promote the city of Moscow. The Forum also publishes research and academic documents to inform Moscow’s future endeavors; for example, Archaeology of the Periphery, a publication inspired by the 2013 forum and released in 2014, notably influenced the urban development on the outskirts of Moscow, but also highlighted the importance of combining urban development with the existing landscape.
Russian practice Project Meganom has been announced as the winner in a competition to drastically transform the Moscow riverfront. Their masterplan proposal aims to create a series of linear green spaces, while also incorporating new cultural and education spaces along the waterfront and improving the surrounding public transport. Announced at the IV annual Moscow Urban Forum which opened earlier today, the goal of the competition was to return the Moscow river from a "barrier" into a "link" in the city, restoring its historical status as the city's heart and most important transportation route.
Read on after the break for more details of Project Meganom's masterplan
At the III Moscow Urban Forum, we had the chance to sit down with Russian architect Yuri Grigoryan, the co-founder of Project Meganom and the director of education at the Strelka Institute. Grigoryan also led the team that prepared the research project, “Archeology of the Periphery,” a key part of the forum that focused on the challenges and strategy for developing Moscow’s metropolitan area.
Sitting above the “Archeology of the Periphery” exhibition, Grigoryan told us what he thinks the role of an architect should be in society, what it’s like to lead a firm and the importance of innovation. “Architects have two very important roles. One is to do the architecture and to be good in architectural design. And the second role is to build the bridge between architecture, research and society,” he told us.
If you enjoy this interview make sure you check out our interview with both Grigoryan and Alexei Komissarov, the Moscow Government Minister and Head of the Department of Science, Industrial Policy and Entrepreneurship of Moscow, on the Forum and “Archeology of the Periphery.”
In Archaeology of the Periphery, a publication emerging out of the Moscow Urban Forum, a variety of specialists tackle the issue of a strategy for the development of Moscow's metropolitan area. As one of the best examples of urban concentric development, teams of engineers, architects, planners, economists and sociologists, studied the Russian metropolis with a pointed focus on the periphery—specifically the territory between the Third Ring Road and the Moscow Ring Road. Using an "archaeological" approach, the study reveals entrenched and hidden planning structures in order to increase the awareness and attractiveness of the periphery. Archaeology of the Periphery argues that examination of the city's fringe requires different methods of analysis than would be applied to traditional city centers.
"As the centre sets a certain quality of life and serves as a benchmark for the entire city, the high "gravitation" of the centre makes the signs of urban life invisible on the outskirts. Different optics are required in order to work with the non-central urban space. The tactic of "taking out" the centre and "sharpening the focus" on the peripheral territory will reveal what has been obscured and help identify the processes that take place, study potential, support or control the current forces at play.
The term "periphery," which is based on the opposition to a semantic centre is used in a wide range of scientific fields. The myriad of approaches underlines the ambiguity of the phenomenon and at the same time provides a base for an multidisciplinary research. This research was performed by experts in sociology (S), politics (P), architecture and urban planning (A), culture (C), economics (E) and big data (D). Methodology — SPACED — allows a broader view of the actual and potential intersections, going."
Last month we had the chance to attend to the III Moscow Urban Forum, an instance where urbanists, architects, city mayors, the real estate industry and the citizens of Moscow had an open dialogue related to the future of the city under the theme “Megacities: Success Beyond the Centre”. The forum was organized by the Government of Moscow, who invited global urban planning gurus with experience in developing suburbs, to discuss how to resolve the problems of deprived outskirts, how to transform “dead” zones in towns into socially beneficial areas for work and leisure, how make a city environmentally sound and comfortable for living at a low cost, and how to create a transport system that is convenient for its citizens.