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Regular version of the site

Article

The comfortable city model: Researching Russian urban planning and design through policy mobilities

Urban Studies and Practices. 2019. Vol. 4. No. 3. P. 7-22.
Zupan D., Gunko M.

Drawing on the scholarship of policy mobility and center-periphery relations, the article sheds light on the evolution of Russian urban planning and design since the new millennium and critically discusses recent trends. We do so through the lens of planning ideas and their circulation. In particular, the paper reconstructs how the “comfortable city” concept emerged and unfolded in Russian urban development. We identify three phases: the concept’s emergence within the professional community in the early 2000s, its consolidation over the last decade, and its recent rise into the epitome of contemporary Russian city-making. The paper finds that over the last two decades the centers of innovations in the field of urban planning and design shifted. While it was mainly the regional capitals as well as large and medium-sized Russian cities providing important stimuli at the beginning of the new millennium, contemporary urban planning and design is marked by attempts to spread many of Moscow’s best practices throughout the country. Such attempts are enforced, inter alia, through federal programs, educational initiatives, and the spread of the capital’s expertise and experts to the regions. The resulting reshuffling of center-periphery relations is characterized by the re-centralization of knowledge, expertise, and professional resources on the one hand, and the further peripheralization and undermining of local autonomy, expertise, innovation, as well as local and indigenous knowledge on the other.