City Space Transformation: Renovation of the Urban Environment

Prof. Alexey KRASHENINNIKOV, MARKHI
Prof. Alexey KRASHENINNIKOV, MARKHI
Convenor of IPHS 2020 Moscow

The 19th biennial International Planning History Society (IPHS) conference will take place 5–8 July 2020, in Moscow, Russia. The conference program will consist of diverse events, which include a pre-forum, keynote lecture, research panels of presentations, roundtables, and book talks and field trips. The 2020 IPHS Moscow conference aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the history of renovations and revitalizations of the built environment by exploring these both as transformation and stability of urban space.

Under the weight of economic constraints and options of virtual reality, historic planning approaches have been somewhat sidelined in the debates on the modernization and renovation of dilapidated houses and public spaces in cities and towns.

Urban planning is a technical and political process concerned with the development and design of land use and the built environment. This includes air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks of municipal services.

The general theme of the 2020 IPHS conference was originally proposed by IPHS Council member, the late Prof. Olga Zinovieva – an enthusiast of intercultural exchange of ideas and knowledge in human science. Prof. Zinovieva had organized a number of international conferences, and public events. Unfortunately and unexpectedly she passed away in May 2018 but her initial idea to hold a conference in Moscow was taken up by her colleagues and friends.

In 2018 at the 18th IPHS conference in Yokohama, Japan, Moscow was selected as the venue for the 2020 conference. As there has never been an IPHS conference in Russia, in the Soviet Union or in the eastern states, the IPHS 2020 conference in Moscow will be a special opportunity for the conference participants to look at the unique urban fabric of the biggest European megapolis.

City Space Transformation

The theme of urban transformation is critical now due to the new information and technological revolution, the contradistinction of the neo-liberal and center-planned economy, local identity and globalization and new roles and uses of urban heritage.

Urban history has witnessed continuous changes, which included transformations of urban plans and objects, changing images or identities of certain spaces or whole cities.

Modifications of urban areas served the needs of modernization, triggered by politics, economy, demography, religion, culture and everyday needs. On the one hand, the current era puts a strong emphasis on the cultural heritage of a place, which, in fact, has been transformed many times. On the other hand, many urban objects and plans are undergoing strong transformations.

Many European cities were transformed in the Renaissance period, but even more, noticeable transformations took place in the era of absolutism and growing empires. Growing metropolises of the 20th century transformed the adjacent territories to form agglomerations. The urban renaissance was the recent period of regeneration of the inner city after urban decay and suburbanization during the mid-20th century. The common equivalent for urban renewal in the USA was the New Urbanism that helped to encourage people back into the city, assisted by gentrification.

Russia has a long history of urban planning. Starting with the Betscov commission of the 18th century that made plans for more than 250 cities and towns all over Russia, it was followed by the industrial development of St. Petersburg and other big cities in the 19th century and by recent competitions for urban development plans. In the early 20th century several new cities were planned with the support of foreign planners (German, French, American etc.). Among the benchmarks of urban development in Russia are: the famous GOELRO plan for the national system of settlements (1920); proposals for ideal socialist cities (1930); the concept of New Element of Urban Development (1970); and the creative planning ideas of Paper Architecture (1980). In the 20th century several extension plans for Moscow were made and released, and in the 21st century the area of Moscow was virtually doubled by adjoining New Moscow Okrug.

Renovation of the Urban Environment

Moscow has passed through several waves of the transformation of urban space. In 1951 a 10-year plan for Moscow reconstruction was adopted. The blueprint was based on the 1935 urban development plan but included some new proposals on improving the layout and the built environment mainly along major roads leading into Moscow, and developing reserve areas. At that time, prefabricated construction was gradually introduced into the sector along with relevant production facilities.

In 1960, experts began working on a feasibility study for another urban development plan. This was when Moscow borders were extended to the Moscow Ring Road (MKAD). The first phase of the plan was implemented in 1961-1970.

In 1971, another plan was devised for the city for 1985-1990, which also contained longer-term targets – up to 2000. The plan set Moscow development area within MKAD but also outlined areas for the city’s possible further expansion into the outlying suburbs.

The next blueprint devised for the 1990s until 2020 was the most investor-oriented of all. In 2007 Moscow moved on from the “urban development plan of opportunities” to the “urban development plan of necessity”. It took more than three years to draw up a new up-to-date version of the urban development city plan until 2025. Its concept was repeatedly revised and discussed at public hearings in prefectures of all city districts.

The biggest urban development project in Europe, the renovation of residential housing in Moscow, is underway currently. In order to create optimal architectural and planning solutions for new houses and districts, in April 2017, the Moscow Government announced an international architectural competition for 5 experimental sites in the districts. There were 132 applications from 17 countries. At the final stage, 20 participants were selected, some of whom work in a consortium. In general, the renovation program included more than 5.1 thousand houses. The total area of all houses in the program is about 16 million square meters with 350 thousand apartments and 1 million people. At the moment, 236 sites have been approved for resettlement of residents, and another 160 sites are under construction. For the first time, a project of this scale is financed by the government with the outsourcing of sociologists, economists, engineers, business representatives and foreign experts at the design stage. The quality of built environment and renovation of public space are the main elements of modern urban policy in Russia.

CALL FOR PAPERS

The 2020 conference calls for contributions investigating a broad range of topics in planning history relating to the theme of City Space Transformation: Renovation of the Urban Environment. Papers may cover topics including urban form, urban visions, comprehensive planning, planning legacy and heritage, cross-cultural exchange and colonization, and the concept and methodology of global/world planning history.

We are looking especially for studies which explore the planning history in Russia and the Soviet Union, as well as in East Europe and America to compare with plans, ideas, and projects implemented in the various parts of the world. Vice versa we want to promote discussions and introduce the discussion on urban and regional planning history, in general, reflecting new topics, methods, and perspectives.

The study of transformations in urban space requires extensive multi-cultural and multi-linguistic knowledge, as well as collaboration among scholars from around the world who have studied the national practice of renovation of the built environment. The IPHS with its long-standing international membership is uniquely positioned to develop such a perspective.

In order to promote the global planning perspective, it is necessary to form a multi-regional network, which will expose scholars to relevant ongoing research and expose their research to others. The IPHS and its biennial conferences are an excellent opportunity to foster this sort of network, and the collaboration with the Moscow architectural Institute and Moscow State University has the potential to enhance it and develop it further.