'Prototyping Future Cities' Programme Will Prepare Professionals Able to Understand the Future of Urbanism
In 2017, the HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism is debuting its English-language master’s programme Prototyping Future Cities. The programme is based on the idea of learning by doing, and it is open to students from all over the world. In an interview with the HSE News Service, Vicente Guallart, who is the Academic Supervisor of the Laboratory for Experimental Urban Design, former Chief Architect of Barcelona City Council, and head of the programme, discusses exactly how the new master’s will work.
Why ‘prototyping future cities?’
Information technology has a huge impact on how cities develop, as it changes their physical appearance (spaces and buildings), the social atmosphere in a city, the ways people communicate there, the types of mobility a city has, and city administration as a whole. Our way of life and the way we approach city planning and construction will be different. But which approaches are different exactly? How and where will these changes occur? These are the questions that students will try to answer during their time in our new master’s programme.
What kinds of students is the programme for?
Students from all over the world. This is why the programme is taught in English. As concerns their educational or professional background, there will not be any restrictions here, but we are seeing three key areas that overlap with urbanism in one way or another. First is city planning – we are anticipating architectures, city planners, and the like. Second is engineering, and engineering in a broad sense – people who understand digital technologies, as well as industrial engineers and energy specialists. And of course, third are the social sciences – people who study economics and sociology.
Our programme is not theoretical, but technical in every sense of the word. Students will spend all of their time thinking up and developing different technological solutions and applying them to urban planning
It’s important to have a good mix of students because we want to form a new category of professionals who are able to understand the future of urbanism. To use an analogy, we are moving in the same direction that biotechnologies were when they brought together engineering, biological, and medical achievements and skills.
Why should students come to Russia to study cities?
I’ve already gotten questions like, ‘why would foreign students come here, to HSE, to study and not go to a university in Western Europe or the U.S.?’ The thing is, Moscow has two wonderful traditions. The first is city architecture and design tradition. For example, in the 20th century we saw the constructivist movement, and here you can see and study some excellent examples of these buildings and structures. The other tradition is technological. Russia was the first to launch a satellite into space, the first to send a person there, and this tradition is still here. The quality of a math or physics education in Russia is still very high. It is important to take advantage of the heritage and potential behind these traditions.
But I have another argument to add – Moscow is a city that is changing right now before our eyes. The mayor and chief architect have a clear vision of the city’s future, and so much is happening all at once here. So many projects are being carried out, and I see Moscow as a very interesting subject for further research.
What learning style will the programme push for?
The programme is based on the principle of learning by doing. Students will study and take part in projects in the HSE’s International Laboratory for Experimental Urban Design, which will begin working actively in December of this year.
Further, we provide students with the opportunity to work in tech and design studios. They learn about how certain things are structured and created, and they see the process on very different scales – from the small and everyday to entire complex systems like cities. Our programme is not theoretical, but technical in every sense of the word. Students will spend all of their time thinking up and developing different technological solutions and applying them to urban planning.
But we also offer students three types of seminars – one in cultural history, one in economics and the social sciences, and one in management. It’s impossible to understand how a city functions without this knowledge as well.
How is someone else’s experience useful?
The programme that is opening up in the HSE Graduate School of Urbanism is a ‘standard’ two-year master’s programme. The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), of which I was co-founder, has a shorter programme with a similar name oriented to post-professional education. I would like to develop some deep collaboration with IAAC ( that has become a worldwide reference about urbanism and digital technologies), as well as with other laboratories, companies and professors from Universities around the world like MIT, Harvard, and others. The relationship of cities and technology should be developed by cooperation and by sharing experiences and projects. We will invite also chief architects from cities like Seoul or Sydney.
As for who we would like to see as students, we are hoping for people from business and city administration who do not know enough about how the contemporary city functions and about which architectural and technological solutions make the modern city convenient and comfortable
At the same time, I would also like to work very closely with our Russian colleagues and Russian professors, particularly the younger ones. I see one of my tasks as putting them on display, so to speak. By teaching in the programme, they will become well known to the foreign students and foreign professors who come to HSE. This is the essence of internationalisation.
How can the programme be of use to Russian cities?
In order for the programme to be truly successful, it needs strong ties with companies and local city government in addition to international connections. We have already started working with the city of Moscow. In particular, we helped set up the Russian pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. And I am certain that our collaboration with the city of Moscow will continue developing. Not only with Moscow, though, but with other regions as well, even as distant as the Russian Far East.
As for who we would like to see as students, we are hoping for people from business and city administration who do not know enough about how the contemporary city functions and about which architectural and technological solutions make the modern city convenient and comfortable.
What will students do after graduating from the programme?
I see three main career paths, though there are of course many more. First, our graduates will be free professionals and entrepreneurs who can set up their own architecture or consulting firms. Second, they will be able to work at companies, including manufacturing companies, by combining their design skills and their cutting-edge technological knowledge. Third, they can go on to work in government administration.
If society is more technologically advanced than the officials who manage a city, then we have a very serious problem. A paradigm shift is currently happening with a lot of things becoming deregulated. Take, for example, driverless cars, drones, or new methods of distributing electricity generated by households. City government should have people who understand how quickly technology changes and how to use technology to develop cities and improve people’s quality of life instead of standing in the way of technology. These are the things the graduates of our programme will be able to do.
How does one apply for the programme?
For more information on how to apply for the Prototyping Future Cities Master’s programme, please visit our website.
Maria Melnikova, a graduate of the HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism Master’s programme inUrban Development and Spatial Planning, has written a book entitled Not Just Prefabs: The German Experience of Working with Mass Housing Neighbourhoods. She describes how Germany investigates and solves problems of housing in the city suburbs. Maria spoke with the HSE News Service about her interest in this topic, what she thinks about urban renewal and what she does in Berlin.
Studying in an English-taught curriculum, working with big data, learning the internet of things, and studying smart city technologies—these are some of the key features of the Master’s Programme ‘Prototyping Future Cities’ offered by the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism. Read on to learn more reasons why future urbanists choose the programme.
Traditional urban planning in the United States and Europe developed in response to the epidemics of cholera, tuberculosis, and typhoid. In an op-ed for RBC, Nadezhda Khort, curator of the Shukhov Laboratory of Experimental Urban Design and the Master’s programme ‘Prototyping Future Cities’ in the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, considers the skills and practices cities should employ in post-pandemic urban development.
In 15 years, the share of self-driving passenger vehicles on Moscow’s roads will exceed 60%. However, this change will not have a significant impact if personal vehicle travel is not reduced and car sharing services are not expanded. For the first time, HSE researchers have assessed the effects of self-driving cars on the city. In their study, Alexei Zomarev and Maria Rozhenko lay out predictions for 2030 and 2035.
After a week off, HSE students returned to their online classes this week. HSE News spoke with instructors of the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism about what kinds of new strategies and approaches they are using in their online instruction.
Migration, both domestic and abroad, is playing a major role in transforming the world’s largest cities, and Moscow is no exception. Researchers at HSE University, the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IGRAN) and Strelka KB identified which cities’ residents are buying newly built apartments in the capital and how economic inequality between Russia’s regions is changing the face of the city.
In December 2019, Shukhov Lab – the HSE Laboratory for Experimental Urban Design – is turning three years old. For its anniversary, it has set up a gallery with collages depicting future images of Moscow. Before the close of this year, the Moscow-2050 project goes toShenzhen Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in China.
Charlotte Rottiers is a master’s exchange student from Ghent University (Belgium). This semester she is taking courses at HSE University on urban planning in the ‘Prototyping Future Cities’ Master’s Programme as well as courses on Russian language and culture in the Faculty of Humanities. HSE News Service spoke with Charlotte about her courses, living in Moscow, and her extensive weekend travels.
Anna Berti Suman, PhD candidate from the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) at Tilburg University and Visiting Researcher at the European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC) recently spent a week at HSE’s Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism as a Visiting Lecturer. Anna led two seminars and participated in a public round table on ‘Law, Data and the City’. HSE News Service spoke with her about her seminars, the round table, and her impressions of Moscow.
In early July, the fifth summer school organized by French association D’Est together with the HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, with the support of the French Embassy in Russia and the Paris Mayor’s Office, was held in Paris. For 11 days, students of the HSE Master’s programme in Urban Development and Spatial Planning and members of Moscow’s Municipal Council learned about French urban development, local administration and the country’s participatory democracy.