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.
Yuri Grigoryan: The Latest Architecture and News
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.