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.”
SULP: Synergetic Urban Landscape Planning
This is an integrated approach that allows us to explore, imagine and plan synergies so as to accelerate the transition to a liveable, low carbon city. During the research process, SULP has continuously been reinforced by incorporating the results of the separate studies on water, climate, energy, urban agriculture and nutrients. Synergetic urban landscape planning forms the bridge between CO2 and livability goals on the one hand, and principles for sustainable urban development on the other.
More on SULP here
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
H. Chang: Stakeholder workshops as a pedagogy for experiential learning in collaborative planning education: An action research at the Department of Urban Planning, NCKU, Taiwan (photo credits: me)
This was perhaps one of the most interesting conferences I have ever attended. I followed the track of education since day 01 and I was amazed by the high levels of participation and engagement until the end. I met a lot of interesting people and I am very pleased to have worked with them, shared my thoughts with them and discussed with them on the future of urban planning education.
I was very excited to have been able to gain some relevance compared to what we have been doing, especially on transdisciplinary learning. The Round table on Friday was a great experience for me. I think that all of us present agreed on being advocates of collaborative practices, social inclusion and cultural empathy as basic prerequisites for co-creation in urban planning and planning education.
Round table brainstorming on the competencies of the future urban planners (photo credits: R. Rocco)
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!
The WeMakeThe.City Festival will be hosted in Pakhuis de Zwijger between 20-24 June.
I am delighted to be part of Architecture of Connection: Design Solutions for Urban Loneliness on Thursday 21st of June in Amsterdam with Α10 collaborators Anna Yudina, Omer Kanipak and Joakim Skajaa along with Stefanie Heublein and Peter van Asche.