In the early 1960s in the Soviet Union, when all state funds and collective energy of the nation were thrown into the Cold War competition with the US, a group of architectural students, ahead of the official Soviet authorities, had developed a proposal for the communist City of the Future, for a different, fair society. A film rediscovers the work of the unique Soviet architecture group NER (the New Element of Settlement) through a close look into the present lives of its surviving members. Focusing on each character in a unique way, the film reveals how these architects still believe in their early ideas while coping with post-socialist reality of contemporary Moscow. The trailer is available here
Excerpt from Radical Pedagogies
The concept of NER was first developed in 1957 as a diploma project by graduates of the Moscow Institute of Architecture (MArkhI). As students, NER members studied the elements of the city, its quantitative and qualitative characteristics, eventually dismissing traditional planning principles in favor of a new approach to urban development as a dynamic process. Drawing on Marxism, they sought to provide a spatial agenda for the communist ideology, representing the younger generation of thinkers in the radical split of the Soviet architectural profession following de-Stalinization. They actively criticized the state of Soviet urban planning, arguing that “today, the city is not fulfilling its primary purpose to be an organic living environment.”
NER’s new city was based on creative communication in a classless society, in which the city was no longer dependent on its industrial center but instead formed around a center of communication, independent from the economic characteristics of the city. The major shift brought in by this new urban wave—later implemented by one of its members, Alexei Gutnov, within the curriculum of MArkhI—was to see the city as a living organism, in which cells would be born and eventually die. This led to a change in the status of architectural form: it was conceived as temporary and mobile—its birth implied the process of its imminent destruction. This approach anticipated the later understanding of architecture as an activity or as environment—form was no longer relevant because it hindered the organic processes within the dying city. The system emphasized the correspondence between urban structures and social relationships in communism, based on the reading of the urban plan as “simultaneously a symbol of the idea and a program for its realization.”
From the site:
Building a learning city is a collective and continuing journey. It requires a concrete action plan with strong political leadership and steadfast commitment; participation and involvement of all stakeholders; diverse celebratory events charged with enthusiasm and inspirations; easy accessibility and enjoyable experiences for all citizens; a proper monitoring and evaluation of progress; and sustainable and secure funding. You can find detailed instructions on these action tips in our Guidelines for Building Learning Cities.
Video tutorials on ‘How to build a learning city’ illustrate and elaborate on the actions to take. Each module begins with an animated conceptual video, which is further enriched by clips based on the experience of members of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities
A statistical indicator called the Storefront Index measures the number and concentration of customer-facing businesses in the nation’s large metropolitan areas. A series of maps represent location, size and intensity of neighbourhood business clusters down to the street level for 51 metropolitan areas. The Storefront Index, claims the writer, is one indicator of the relative size and robustness of the active streetscape in and around city centers. The index material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license and it is openly available for further investigation to researchers. around the globe
- Joe Cortright, 2018. Quantifying Jane Jacobs. In City Commentary, full article and image available here
Originally (a solidarity exhibit in Paris Expo 1900 – musee social), a bottom-up voluntary association, located in a poor urban community, where poorly skilled workers could receive education, get advice on everyday problems or simply find a warm, clean place to hang out. Providers of service were mostly middle-class women, usually working for nothing. SH were small usually serving 600-800 people. The SH movement spread from Europe to the US. Moscow: Alexander Zelenko/ Chicago: Hull House founded by Jane Adams. The SH took up the issue of sociality in a complex society full of difference and sought to convert inner and often passive awareness of others into active engagement. To do that, it emphasized informal contact (Toll’s Rule): advise rather than direct. It gave more shape to cooperative activity and turned technical competence into a sociable activity.
Hampton (1866) and Tuskegee (1881) Institutes sought to build the skills and morale of ex-slaves. The founder was Booker T. Washington. However, the ex-slaves had developed sophisticated skills in farming, carpentering, house building and they taught lessons themselves to newer members. Temporary relocation could regenerate cooperation through daily contact with others. Gender equality was also inscribed within racial recovery. The workshop became an icon of reform. Washington emphasized that each person had something different to offer
Frances Johnston’s images show ethnic differences resolved by people working together, rather than simply being together; they make a point about the tools that enable workers to cooperate. In this famous photo, six men are constructing a staircase, each deploying a different skill yet locked together. The photo is staged, it is a narrative of the stages needed to build a staircase. They are relaxed but absorbed in performing a demanding task [image retrieved from: http://www.oxfordartonline.com/page/American-Women-Photographers-c.-1900-1940, Frances Benjamin Johnston: Students at work on a house built largely by them, gelatin silver print, c. 1899-90 (Washington, DC, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division); image courtesy of the Library of Congress]
Excerpts from Richard Sennett’s book, Together: The Rituals & Politics of Cooperation, 2012, London: Penguin Books
Cover Image available here
Which are the Future Cities of the world?
This is a five-part web documentary by Yvonne Brandwijk (photographer) and Stephanie Bakker (journalist) that tries to answer which cities are looking to outstrip the current megacities in terms of growth, innovation and creativity.
The two creators examine 5 cities; Kinshasa, Lima, Yangon, Medellin and Addis Ababa. They look at the world behind the demographics and search what energy drives them change and innovation. All videos are incredibly interesting and refreshing to see. Check them out!
Image available here
One of the best bike rides ever!
We started at the Circl, with a delicious brunch. Then we visited Hopp, Zoku and Restaurant Vermeer.
The edible roofs initiative is managed by Hrbs and is a project in progress. Thanks to a innovative system of cultivation and watering, hotels and restaurants can grow their own herbs and maintain their own flower gardens to attract bees and butterflies on their rooftops. Our guide Kelai Diebel was amazing.
Best surprise of the day: the six course meal offered to us by chef Christopher Naylor. It was exquisite! Thank you guys!