This exploratory research questions communicative patterns of Moscow metropolitan area residents: practices, attitudes to the city and technological tools used for information search and communication matters. Applying communicative ecology concept on the city level, author analyses data collected by an online survey (N = 200) to distinguish key communication patterns within three dimensions: social, technological and discursive. Among the major communication patterns, we identified significance of the strong ties among residents, relatively low level of membership in social and civic society organizations and exceptionally low level of involvement in local community problem-solving. The study delineates several problems of communicative ecology and prospective directions on urban communication research in Moscow.
This article describes the transformation of the ordinary Soviet dacha (a summer country house for urban families) into a suburban home suitable for year-round living. Based on interviews and observations in Moscow Region, the paper shows that the Soviet dacha was a place of labor with limited living space and, in post- Soviet times, it progressively domesticated to a comfortable suburban home with comparatively limited labor practices. Thus, the contemporary dacha space is a second home and social institution for urban families with children as well as for retired people. An intersectional analysis shows that dacha residents are individuals who have the opportunity to be ‘independent’ from the city: retired people, children, and parents who work remotely. The data from an online focus group explain why this place is not an attractive for living among young adults (students) who strongly connected with urban practices and generally prefer an urban lifestyle. However, the image of the ‘future home’ for young adults is a ‘cottage’ or townhouse located close to the city. This means a close suburban home and a comfortable lifestyle could be a future trend even among adults in Moscow Region.
Urbanism is about research, experimentation, and dialogue. It is the art of posing the right questions about the urban environment, and the science of making the tools to discover relevant answers.
The mindset underpinning practical urbanism is no longer dominated by intentions, professional intuition, and visionary concepts alone: Prior to the actual design and planning work, urban designers must now conduct thorough contextual research and intensive quests for analytical insights.
These developments in the field of urbanism provide a fundamental basis for the two-year Advanced Urban design Master’s program, developed by the Higher School of Economics Graduate School of Urbanism and the Strelka Institute.
For this reason, Anastasia Smirnova, the academic supervisor of our program, and Theo doitinger, founder of Td Architects, created the “Learning from Shabolovka” workshop. It focused on contextual analyses of Shabolovka Street in central Moscow, the hub of one of HSE’s busiest campuses.The structure of this four-week workshop had several focuses: conceptualizing and posing inquiry questions, field research, data creation/collection, and finally, the presentation of its findings.
Intensive field research of Shabolovka Street was essential for the workshop, as it was the main source of overall research data. Surveys and analyses of doors facing the street, the density of outdoor and indoor lighting, and the ways that coffee-to-go is purchased on the street represent new types of urban data and “urban devices” of a high explanatory power.
The collection of this data alone, even without the subsequent research, represents the extraordinary value added by this group of workshop participants.
The abstracts below summarize the workshop’s main findings by six groups of bright and talented students, each with its own research story and amazing results.
Read and enjoy.
Alexei Novikov, dean of the Graduate school of Urbanism
This article deals with the process of suburbanization in Russia. Its special attention is paid to two major Russian cities: Moscow and St. Petersburg. The article compares the processes occurring in the above cities with the similar ones in the American cities. This comparison provides a means of appropriate ways for improving the quality of life in Russian megalopolises. This article suggests that Soviet heritage could not afford Russian regions to copy American experience to the full extent. However, American “edge cities” are considered to be the best form of suburbanization in terms of increasing the quality of life.
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.
The aim of this paper is to delineate the history of sound studies as a research field and to highlight their connection with urban studies and practices. Throughout their history sound studies have gone through the precritical and critical phases, and finally formed a postdisciplinary field. From the very beginning sound studies established themselves in the heart of urban problems, which enables us to consider them as an alternative (nonvisual) branch of urban studies. Today sound studies can provide urban studies with instruments that can help to overcome the limitations of visual culture. Thus sound studies form a resource ignoring which is likely to bring urban theorists and practitioners to misguided decisions.
In December 2013, the comprehensive research on the outskirts of Moscow was presented at MUF (Moscow Urban Forum) – Archeology of the periphery. It included six areas: society, politics, architecture, culture, economics, data. Research teams noted the significant potential of the peripheral parts of the city, which are still in mode of "sleeping" centers. Nevertheless, these territories remained only urban parts, but not city-forming. One of the criticisms of this project was the insufficient disclosure of the relationship between the center and the periphery, which, perhaps, would shed light on the reasons for the poor realization of the potential of the peripheral territories. Six years have passed. Moscow is booming. For three years now, the MCC (Moscow Central Cirсle) has been functioning, which completely lies on the territory of the periphery. It is announced the introduction of a new large-scale transport infrastructure - the MCD (Moscow Central Diameters), which will spread outside Moscow. The city is experiencing the opening of new metro lines, several improvement projects (My Street, My District) and the active phase of Renovation. It makes sense to recall the old results and conclusions in order to evaluate the development vector that has formed since the publication of “Archeology of the periphery”. To do this, we decided to talk with the authors of the research in order to comprehend those changes taking place in Moscow, which is trying to find a balance between the center and the periphery. In total, we managed to collect eight interviews with experts who were responsible for various research areas. As a result, we discussed where Moscow ends, what can be called as Moscow periphery, should we wait for the next administrative expansion of the city, how did the accession of New Moscow affect the development of the whole city, will “My District” project be able to form a polycentric urban environment, what are the prospects of the Moscow Renovation, what role the MKAD plays in modern Moscow, how the three-year period of the MCC functioning in the peripheral territories affected, what to expect from the launch of the MDC, and what could be “Archeology of the periphery 2.0” about.
Broadway is the most famous street of New York City. It follows the island of Manhattan along its whole length and through many of its vernacular regions. Field research of functional, social-economic, architectural and mental differentiation of the street from Bowling Green to 142 Street in Spanish Harlem shaped the methods of linear zoning and revealed 16 unique regions in the researched segment. These regions turned out to be functional, but their borders and composition are based on the vernacular regions of Manhattan. It appears that Broadway, as a major trade and social thruway, forms the surrounding urban landscape. But the role of vernacular regions, through which street passes, remains important and sometimes even crucial.
The article analyses the effects of new transport infrastructure on transport systems of the 2018 FIFA World Cup host cities. The choice of cities is based on the scale of planned transport infrastructure – Saransk, Kaliningrad and Ekaterinburg experienced substantial interventions. Analysis is conducted using open spatial data on population and street networks. All interventions in transport infrastructure were evaluated in terms of their effectiveness and usefulness for the cities after the 2018 FIFA World Cup – scale of improvements in street network connectivity and accessibility of key places in the cities. We identified that investments into new transport infrastructure of Saransk seems to be the most effective in terms of future use. We demonstrated the feasibility of conducting such analysis using only open data, but also identified some issues and pitfalls.
Post-socialist cities need a tool to work with the morphological structure they inherited from the socialist era. The location of semi-peripheral micro-districts between the gentrified center and booming suburbs exacerbates the need for a new strategy for their development. In this article, we consider a soft technique for transforming existing micro-districts and creating Yardstreets — complex, diverse spaces, shaping a second network that connects and organizes the visually loose spaces of micro-districts. A yardstreet-creation algorithm is given. Such planning transformation dramatically increases the connectivity and accessibility of urban spaces, unlocking opportunities for the development of a new urban economy.
In 1960s advocate planners, as the main ideologist of this movement Paul Davidoff has put it, gave professional support to minority citizens — moderate- and low-income families and inhabitants of ethnic neighborhoods. Next decades the establishment of advocacy planning positions was made within city government agencies. It was called “equity planning”. Today advocacy planning has two dimensions. It’s an approach that can be used in any planning activity — within cabinets of power or in the work with communities. On the other side it’s an ideology that advocates for more just and equal basis of city life and supports poor and disenfranchised.
Parcellation is an essential instrument of city regulation that allows to oblige home-owners to take care of inner-block territories. However, as experience shows, to ensure effective maintenance of the territory, parcellation is not enough. This article considers the factors that influence the quality of maintenance of parcelled inner-block territories. Four blocks in Tolyatti are analysed, including their parameters, the evaluation of the quality of their maintenance, and the interpretation of expert interviews. This analysis helps to illustrate the processes of maintenance in the city, their particular problems and the role of parcellation. Based on the results, further research perspectives are suggested.
This article systematizes the experience of the summer field practice completed by students of the Department of socio-economic geography of foreign countries of the Geography Faculty of the Moscow State University. Urban studies are the focus of this article, in particular the study of Manhattan neighbourhoods, which have been researched by students annually since 2013. The article is divided into two parts: methodological and empirical. In the former some methods of urban data collecting and analysis are being revealed, while in the latter authors describe some of the results of Manhattan neighbourhood observations collected over the past four years.
Independent mobility is considered to be an important factor in the development of children. Based on a survey of schoolchildren (N = 568), this article examines the formation of permissive and prohibitive settings for independent mobility depending on the formats of parental accompaniment and the self-visit of places by children. We reveal the link between those who accompany schoolchildren of different age groups (8–12, 13–17) in the most remote places from home and the most visited places, and the distance to these places. If schoolchildren visit places close to home alone, the distance from home to the most remote places is more pronounced for them than for schoolchildren who move independently away from home. However, if children are alone in the most remote places, frequently visited places are far away from home. The revealed relationship is described by the mechanisms of the near and distant radius of parental control. A joint visit with the parents (“near radius”) of remote locations contributes to the increase of the parent’s confidence in the independent mobility of the child, and as a consequence, of the distances of the places visited from the house. While an independent visit (“distant radius”) of nearby places also increases the distance of the most remote places, it is not on the basis of parental care, but on the successful experience of the children’s mobility.
This article describes establishment and development of the history of urban mental maps. Two opposing meanings of mental maps are stated as a result of comparative historic study, namely, 1) mental spatial information, representing the image of the city and the orientations schemes, and 2) cartographical geovisualization, which reflects individual or group perception of space. Intellect-maps being not close to spatial data and “image-geographical” maps, elaborated within Russian geohumanities are additionally described in the first case. The divide between sketch maps drawn by people according to the researcher’s task and the maps of space perceptions, which are close to the traditional thematic geographical maps, is stated in the second case. The mental maps, combining the traits of both big classes are argued to be the most prospective. Kevin Lynch’s generalized urban maps based on the results of individual cities’ perceptions gained by various research methods, and “image-topographic” and “mythogeographical” maps from the Russian geohumanities are named among those prospective ones.