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Regular version of the site

Courses



1. Critical Thinking

 Critical Thinking (PDF, 246 Kb)


2. Spatial Planning, Analysis and Urban Design

 Spatial Planning, Analysis and Urban Design (PDF, 202 Kb)


3. Urbanization in Developing Countries

 Urbanization in Developing Countries (PDF, 271 Kb)


5. Metropolitan Data

 Metropolitan Data (PDF, 172 Kb)


6. Access to Information & Data

 Access to Information & Data (PDF, 169 Kb)

 

7. From Storymaking to Strategic Communication

 From Storymaking to Strategic Communication (PDF, 192 Kb)

 

8. Legal Regulations of Urban Development

 Legal Regulations of Urban Development (PDF, 192 Kb)

 

9. The City: Economics, Sociology, Politics

 The City: Economics, Sociology, Politics (PDF, 280 Kb)

 

10. Curatorial Practices in Urban Projects

 Curatorial Practices in Urban Projects (PDF, 248 Kb)

 

11. Cityscapes Through the Prism of Cultural Studies

 Cityscapes Through the Prism of Cultural Studies (PDF, 285 Kb)

 

12. Urban Histories

 Urban Histories (PDF, 239 Kb)

 

13. The Next Agenda for Contemporary Architecture

 The Next Agenda for Contemporary Architecture (PDF, 301 Kb)

 




1. Critical Thinking
Author/lecturer: Nick Axel
 
General Description
This founding course is intended to promote a methodological approach to critical thinking,mirroring the teacher’s multidisciplinary research and his commitment in fields such as critical theory, architecture, and pedagogy. Critical thinking is here presented as an awareness of one’s own actions, the contexts they take place within and the implications of their technical and mediated performance.
 
Throughout the course, students will be challenged to bear witness to the contingency of their own opinions and beliefs through a careful analysis of the means by which they are supported and articulated. Students will confront and go beyond the limits of their inherited ways of seeing, thinking, discussing and working, and come to consider these actions themselves as performative and political design decisions. Critical thinking is therefore treated as a feat of dexterity, of being able to step outside of one’s own position so as to be able to inhabit and act within it more strategically.
 
Through a series of lectures, seminars, practicebased and reflexive activities, students will learn to move from distance to proximity, from subjectivity to objectivity, from identification to disagreement, and back again. Students will ultimately learn to develop wellreasoned and incisive arguments; to analyze their truth value (or conversely, their lack thereof). A debate will catalyze the learning process and transfer of practical knowledge. To ground this way of seeing, thinking, and acting as an urban practice, a series of fieldwork sessions will focus on exploration, documentation, analysis and representation.
 
The course will not only equip its students with a set of methodological, analytic and practical tools, but also with the skill and ability to reflect upon the shortcomings of those. The techniques and foremost the methods put forward during this course will fundamentally inspire the students’ following activities and studies both theoretical and practical throughout the entire MA.


2. Spatial Planning, Analysis and Urban Design
Author/lecturer: Markus Schaefer, MArch, M.Sc. / SIA / REG A
 
General Description
This course provides a basic conceptual framework to understand and engage with urban phenomena and aims at establishing a working hypothesis for a contemporary praxis in urban design and planning.
It starts from the observation that cities are infrastructures for exchange that allow for a critical density of interactions (the exchange of symbols) and transactions (the exchange of goods), are fueled by social differentiation and division of work and thereby give rise to urban cultures and markets. As there is no apparent limit to the human desire for exchange and differentiation, urban systems are inherently prone to growth and expansion. Institutions and practices such as governmental bodies, monetary systems or religions support this expansion in many ways. Technologies such as transport and communication infrastructures of various sorts speed it up resulting in the volatile and fast paced planetary urbanism of today.
This starting point allows us to understand cities on many scales and from different vantage points. We can develop a general idea of urban hardware (streets, squares, buildings, infrastructure, etc.) and software (institutions, laws, media, narratives, etc.) and test it against the history of cities, their main typologies and genealogy. 
But to understand urban systems we also need to understand human beings, their cognition, their behavior and interactions, their ability and need to act in large groups, and we need to look at ecological systems and scaling laws of which cities are a special case.
Finally, we are able to discuss what cities are for, what they provide us with and how we should think about designing them. An understanding of the basic mechanisms of the urban allows us to contextualize trends, evaluate proposals and spot problems – small and large. We can look into and assess the changing role of a designer in the contemporary urban world and discuss tools and techniques available today for a holistic practice based on systemical thinking about the city.  
Throughout the course, we will refer to everyday phenomena and to personal experience, to intuition and project work to test whether our working hypothesis has any use in professional reality.


3. Urbanization in Developing Countries
Author/lecturer: Ronald Sean Wall
 
General Description
The course will be divided into two focal parts. Firstly, a panorama of urbanization processes and problems in developing countries, followed by a focus on the topic of urban inequality.

Generic Overview
Urbanisation and urban growth have accelerated in developing countries over the past few years. Although the benefits of planned efficient cities in the developed world is well understood, we urgently need to recognize that the majority of the world is undergoing unplanned urbanization that is particularly exacerbated by an unprecedented transition from rural to urban areas. This brings deep risks of economic upheaval, social instability, excessive urban concentration and dispersion, inadequate infrastructure, environmental calamities, booming informality, probable water crises and the likelihood of emergent diseases. The costs of these predicaments stem from the incomprehensibility of megacities, the mismatch between regional and urban development, institutional underdeveloped and insufficient human resources for urban planning and management. In turn, much of this has its roots in colonial and post-colonial forces, but also contemporary indigenous contexts. 
 
Therefore this part of the course offers a non-Western-centric view on unfamiliar contexts and topics, will broadly explore the causalities behind developing world urbanization, differences between urbanism and urbanization, outline major patterns of modernization and urban development in post-colonial countries and explain the historically grounded opposition between East and West along with the introduction of the notion of the Global South. Most importantly this part will illustrate that developing world urbanization relates to the changing geography of scarce resources, the increasing division between the haves and have-nots, and the application of spatio-political instruments to enforce this. 
 
Specific Focus
Around the world inequality is rampant, not only in the developing world, but in most parts of the developed world too. Over a period of 250 years it is seen that globally the accumulation of wealth is increasingly unequally distributed. It means that the world is not becoming flat as postulated by Thomas Friedman, but spikier. Geographically, only a handful of cities hold the majority of global wealth. In fact, New York, London, Paris and Tokyo control about 20% of global investments. Multinational corporations locate in these major financial hubs where they control production and market processes across the globe. 
 
The disproportionate distribution of capital is not a random event but is determined by social, cultural, economic, political and spatial characteristics of cities. Not only is this skewness seen internationally between cities, but the same patterns are mirrored within developed and developing cities. In emerging markets e.g. Peru, Russia and South Africa, inequality is flourishing. The rise of inequality perpetuates increased social unrest and conflict within and between cities, further fuelled by the IT revolution, which makes the majority increasingly aware of the magnitude of their misfortune. In this sense, confronting the spatial and function inequality of cities is one of the greatest challenges mankind faces. To tackle it will require a novel economic and spatial approach. 
 
The idea is to study and compare the inequality of Moscow and Johannesburg, both extremes in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Russia and South Africa have some of the highest inequality in the world (Credit Suisse 2014 wealth report). South Africa has a much higher inequality today than during the apartheid regime. The unequal distribution of capital is most evident in Moscow and Johannesburg, but for different social, cultural, economic and political reasons. More importantly these functional characteristics have crystallized into spatial inequality, making this study ideal for economics and urban planning students to explore together.
 
In the diagram it is seen that urban inequality is based on the distribution of wealth and wellbeing, and how this is mediated through technology (e.g. transport and IT). These main categories will form the organizational division of this part of the course.


4. Urbanization in Developing Countries (Part II. Russia)
Author/lecturer: Nadya Nilina
 
General description
Part Two of the course ‘Urbanization in Developing Countries’ will examine the evolution of city planning and the design of Russian cities over the last three hundred years, with a particular focus on Socialist urban concepts. It will complement the broader nature of Part One, providing detailed insights into the specific character of Russian urbanization.
 
This course is an attempt to position Russian urban practice within the larger context of global urban history, trace its origins to European culture, examine its connections to American urbanism, as well as identify and discuss concepts that can be considered vernacular and original.
 
Special attention will be paid to the physical, built form of Russian cities – their spatial organization and morphology. During debates and interviews with invited speakers, students will critically assess the connection between the politics, ideology, and propaganda, exploring how they affect fundamental qualities of the Russian urban environment.
 
Students will also research the migration and cross-fertilization of ideas between Russia and the West and examine the influence which Soviet centralized planning exerted over the vast territory of the USSR, Eastern Europe, Cuba, and some African countries after the Second World War.


5. Metropolitan Data
Author/lecturer: Philipp Kats, Ekaterina Serova
 
General description
In the past decades we saw multiple disciplines, for instance, sociology and linguistics changing significantly under the influence and with the help of fast developing computer sciences. Today, when technology finally conquered our big cities, it offers new possibilities and presents new challenges. It is now the turn of urban planning, management, and design to be rethought through new technologies. There is, indeed, a great potential for an urban technological revolution, as the whole institution of urban management and governance is based on data-driven decisions. Data classification and analysis benefit immensely from the advantages contemporary technology brings. Therefore, it is very important that various urban professionals understand fundamental technological concepts and learn how to deal with their potential limitations and bottlenecks on the daily basis.
This course provides basic knowledge on information technologies, techniques, and practicalities of contemporary urban informatics to students with no specific technical background, while helping to use informatics to solve complex city problems. It is a case-based course which requires only general analytical skills and the ability to think critically.
 
 
6. Access to Knowledge and Data
Author/lecturer: Philipp Kats (Strelka Institute), Egor Kotov (HSU)
 
General description
Virtually all design today is research-based. From web-service design to a new public space layout, every contemporary project collects and analyses data, investigates contexts and tests design solutions with research. As a multidisciplinary holistic practice Urban Design works across the fields of Urban studies, Architectural Design, Urban planning, and Urban Design projects balancing between science and art require the research-based approach perhaps even more than any other discipline.
Type of the research, however, can vary from case to case, depending on the specific task, context, timeframe and objectives of the Project. How to choose the right methodology for a particular research? How to identify relevant experts and reliable sources effectively, even in the unfamiliar environment? How to access, obtain, structure, assess and store information in the most convenient and quick way? How to think critically and make conceptual conclusions based on proper data analysis? How to link the research with design and make the former enrich the latter?
This course helps student navigate the vast and, at times, murky sea of information – both online and off-line, ¬– indicating safe point of access and giving tips on research structuring. It is an invitation to discuss the research ethics, objectives, planning and management. Students will work with a range of research methodologies, including qualitative and quantative analyses, and will learn how to sequence research and design objectives to achieve best results.
At the end of the course, students will present a group research project on the defined subject.


7. From Storymaking to Strategic Communication
Author/lecturer: Daniele Bellieri, Stefano Mirti
 
General description
This course, bridging the first and the second year of the programme, provides students with an effective, up-to-date knowledge of the multiple ways and formats to communicate an urban design project. 
During the first year’s module, the course will focus on storytelling, investigating how urban designers can benefit from understanding various narrative techniques which have been revived and empowered by the emergence of digital media in the last decade. 
In the second year’s module, the course will tackle a series of issues more specifically connected to the world of media, investigating how the strategic communication of an urban design project must pass through a merger of registers and approaches formed in the fields of journalism, marketing, and media studies.
 
Multidisciplinarity 
This course is multidisciplinary by definition. Its purpose is to make various professionals understand the forma mentis of a storyteller. Architecture/urbanism, literature, art, and cinema will be the four main fields in which students will operate with Moscow serving as a territory of inspiration. 
 
Storymaking (First Year’s Module)
Duration: 1 year
Total hours: 114
Tutor: Stefano Mirti
 
General description
One of the many ways to frame a design project is to present it as a story. In fact, any project or research unfolds as a narrative, whose chapters - from the initial intuition to the final presentation or realisation - can be written either a priori or a posteriori. Furthermore, some of the 20th century’s most appreciated urban projects owe part of their enduring recognition to a well-articulated story – related either to a project’s concept, or to a specific reinterpretation of the past which inspired the  proposal.
 
The objective of this course is to introduce students to the various ways in which stories can improve both the research-based design process and the communication of a project. It will help students understand both the timeless, universal dimensions of storymaking (linguistic devices, suspense techniques, logic of the plot), and the evolving landscape of media which any contemporary narrator should know how to navigate.
 
In fact, the relevance of storymaking and the narrative drive of design have dramatically increased in the last decade, largely due to the emergence of a wide variety of digital media platforms. Digital revolution has ushered in new ways of communication of urban design, often challenging the habitual relationship between design professionals and the general public. 
 
Strategic Communication (Second Year’s Module)
Duration: 1 year (two blocks of three day each, in early November and mid December 2017) 
Total hours: 76 
Author/lecturer: Daniele Bellieri
 
General description
This module will investigate how journalism, marketing, and media studies frame the urban discourse, and how today’s designers can switch between these different registers when communicating the research-based design project.
At the end of this module, students will be required to actively test all of the storymaking and communication skills acquired during the Critical Thinking course, the Storymaking module, and the Research and Project simulators, including argumentation, build up of a story,  presentation, and public speaking. Students will be divided into groups and will participate in a competition, in which each group will be asked to analyse a design project realised by others, and to argue for it in front of an external jury. 


8. Legal Regulations of Urban Development 
Author/lecturer: Mikhail Yakubov (JLL)
 
General description
The course explains the role that legal regulations play in urban development and land use in contemporary cities. The course consists of two chapters. Chapter 1 is devoted to methodology and general principles of regulating of urban development and  explains fundamentals of the discipline, while Chapter 2 offers a practical overview of different national concepts of urban planning and legal regulations in both developed and developing countries.

We intentionally do not focus on Russia only, but rather consider the Russian situation one of many interesting examples that illustrates the transformation of the socialist top-down administrative system into a number of market-driven urban planning institutions. We begin with a  discussion on what and how shapes the land-use models and influences the approach to urban regulations in the course of history. Students will get to know how exactly the regulatory environment reflects political, economic, religious, cultural and other legacies in various countries.

After covering the fundamentals, we will concentrate on two major approaches to land-use regulations and planning: the «American» and the «European». We will collectively look at the strengths and weaknesses of each type and try to understand what are the main guiding principles one should be aware of in order to work effectively in each of these regulatory environments. Then we will analyse different types of  citizens’ involvement into planning and decision-making processes with the special attention given to developing markets with no consistent tradition of bottom-up initiatives (Russia, South Africa, China, etc.).

A special attention will be given to issues of real estate which is commonly understood as the principal worth for the majority of population. Since legal regulations of urban development have an immediate and direct impact on vital economic features of real estate (its value, capitalisation, liquidity, etc.)   we will also look at different aspects of the capitalisation of the real estate and investigate how formal rules and registration system (registry and protection of deeds, execution of agreements and contracts, etc.) affect the use of capital in this sphere.

At the end of the Chapter 1, we will discuss how the long term microeconomic trends affect real estate; how do criseses happen and how do they unfold (or are being dealt with) in different economies?. We conclude with an analyses of the series of large-scale and long-term projects (i.e. Canary Warf in London, La Defence in Paris) that survived radical fluctuations of the market and still managed to retain their value with a focus on special regulatory regimes applied in these instances. 
Chapter 2 explains the specific characteristics of regulatory frameworks in the following countries: 
– USA
– UK 
– Germany
– Eastern Europe (Poland)
– India 
– China
– The South African Republic 
– Russia
 
For each country, we will study the major planning principles and documents that regulate urban development on the national, regional, and local levels. As a result of this study, students will be able to put together a manual for how effectively identify the most important sources of information in a new context and how to start applying local regulatory rules quickly and accurately in any country they get to work in.

In addition to lectures and collective discusssions, students will participate in the seminars structured around the practical group assignment. Working in groups of three, students will analyse existing rules and regulations which provide the guidelines for the development of the large territory adjacent to the Sheremetievo Airport in Moscow and will try formulate a concept vision for this piece of land.

This assignment comprised of the site analysis, market analysis and international benchmarking of various concepts for an aerotropolis will allow for individual investigations and a collective brainstorming session on potential development strategies. A the end of the seminar, each group will have 20 minutes to present their ideas as well as the proposal for possible changes in legal regulations (should any be needed for implementation of the concept) to the jury of site developers and municipal officials. .
A complementary field-trip to the areas of Moscow large-scale development will help understand how recent urban planning and regulatory initiatives have affected the city environment (Moscow City, pedestrian zones, Avia-Park mall, etc.)   
 
9. The City: Economics, Sociology, Politics
 
General description
This course is a critical introduction to how Economics, Sociology and Politicial Studies understand and investigate the urban environment. The course is interdisciplinary and consists of the three interrelated blocks, each dedicated to a particular disciplinary inquiry into the issues of cities. All blocks introduce basic definitions and operational terms of their respective disciplines and provide an overview of the field along with the guidelines and bibiography for further individual studies.

The course is instrumental for professionals planning to practice research-based urban design. A practical assignement and a series of field-trips are included in every block to help understand practical implications of the more theoretical knowledge provided during lectures. The course also  shows the specificity of the Russian socio-economic and political development and thereby prepares the students for their work in Russia (and, by extrapolation, in other developing countries).

Each block is concluded by a seminar co-curated by the tutors of all blocks to expose the strong ties between the fields of Economics, Sociology and Political Studies and help discuss the same issues from various perspectives of these disciplines. 
 
Block “Economics”
Duration: 3 months (first year)
Tutor: Elena Korotkova (Skolkovo)
Total hours: 48

General description
Since 1990s urban development in Russia is not anymore administratively regulated by the state only. Citizens are the new participants of urban development process in addition to municipal authorities, business and industries (whose interests were pivotal during the Soviet times). Now all parties have to interact striving to achieve their own, at times rather different goals.

The course starts with the place that urban economics occupies in the universe of urban studies. Then we will discuss basic questions of microeconomics, as they are more easy to understand for students with different backgrounds. We won’t talk about philosophy, main theories and history of economics in the beginning leaving these questions for the last lectures – when they will be more graspable for all the students in the group.

Microeconomics is the study of goal-oriented human behavior in environments characterized by a relative scarcity of resources or delimited by alternative exclusive courses of action. We will devote the first lectures to understand how people make (or should make) individual decisions that involve consumption and production tradeoffs in the city.
We will then apply these insights to study the logics and behavior of firms in competitive urban markets where millions of agents are making such decisions independently in a decentralized way.

In fact, markets do not always function in a truly decentralized fashion: we will devote some time to study monopolistic and oligopolistic markets, “market failures” and public regulation needed in the city within these kinds of markets.

Conflicts of interest arising in situations in which different parties have different information and different plans are at the core of many issues in urban policy. After discussion of the common economic situation in Russia and spatial aspects of this situation we will devote some time to municipal finances, balances between public and private interests (and role of the city administration in these unstable equilibriums), as well as to urban governance and policies affecting city economics.

Armed with the ideas of three-dimensional urban economic development, we will devote the last discussion to the basic ideas of economics, role of the state in it, different modern economical theories.. 
 
Block “Sociology”
Tutor: Victor Vakhshtayn (MSSES, RANEPA, UoM)
Duration: 3 weeks (first year)
Total hours: 40

General description
Epistemologically speaking, urban social life does not exist in nature as rocks, trees and bodies. What we call “city”, “community”, “place” and “politics” depend on our theoretical language with its own categories, distinctions, concepts and metaphors. Sociological theory is just one of many conceptual languages (quite heterogeneous and inconsistent one) allowing researchers to see urban life as specific social phenomenon. General aim of this course block is to give students a general understanding of sociological language: how different conceptualizations picture the city, what analytical tools they provide, how to use these tools in order to grasp and explain urban life. 
With regard to this core aim some special tasks are to be formulated:
To introduce fundamental concepts in sociological theory and their application to urban life;
To promote a reflection on contemporary theoretical problems and empirical finding in urban sociology;
To acquaint students with methodological basics in empirical urban research;
To develop the ability to describe and analyze observable (in sociological optics) urban phenomena.
 
Block “Politics”
Tutor: Kirill Martynov (HSE)
Duration: 3 months (second year)
Total hours: 40
 
General description
Historically the city was a place of power and politics. In the current situation it is also the place where different interests face each other – those of pedestrians and motorists, rich and poor, developers and residents of the district, locals and migrants, officials and activists. The contemporary political science studies the city as a source of political power and also as a public sphere, where different forms of conflicts emerge - on a global, national and local scales. The objectives of the course is to give students an understanding of the political processes in modern cities, to acquaint them with the analysis tools that are used in the political science, as well as to talk about the political system of Russia and its specifics.

The course begins with an overview of the basic concepts of contemporary political science (power, democracy, participation, political process). The second part discusses the city as an arena of political confrontation. The third part is devoted to municipal politics and local governing. The fourth part is about the specifics of the Russian political system and the role of urban communities in it. Students should understand what political aspects of urban life they must take into account during their work, and how one can fruitfully cooperate with local communities and authorities.
 
 
10. Curatorial Practices in Urban Projects
Tutor/author: Anna Trapkova
 
Guest speakers: Marina Loshak (director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts), Anton Belov (director of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art), Olga Shishko (director of the MediaArtLab), Alisa Prudnikova (Director of the Ural Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts, NCCA, Ekaterinburg)
 
This course is supported by the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow 
 
General description
Over last few decades the concept of curatorship has become central to contemporary art. It played a formative role in the approach of almost all cultural institutions after the Second World War, becoming one of fundamental signifiers of the transition to a post-Modern way of practicing art. Curators became key players in the new cultural industries, rivaling artists in their professional significance and challenging the traditional perception of authorship. By the end of the twentieth century, curators had helped to radically change both artistic institutions and their audiences, introducing conceptual meta-narratives and different approaches to how art is demonstrated publicly.
 
Today, curatorial practices transcend the confines of gallery and museum spaces, bleeding into urban and natural environments. No longer a prerogative of the art world, they inform and inspire design activities of all sorts, propagating a holistic way of thinking about objects and actions in space and time. 
 
Contemporary Architects and Urban Designers explore territories beyond their professional frontiers and, in some instances, come to be meta-narrators, operating not only within the physical built environment but also at the intersection of the social, the cultural, the economic, and the political – similar to how curators do. In the same way as an art curator, Urban Designers operating today combine specific professional skill-sets with the qualities of a researcher, a visionary, a producer, an administrator, a communicator, an artist, and even an entrepreneur.
 
Explicit similarities, as well as stark differences, between contemporary curatorial and design practices allow for a productive discussion about professionalism and ‘amateurship’, individual and collective authorship, strategic planning and spontaneity, technological achievements and set backs, state and private ownership, and many other contemporaneously relevant issues.
 
At the same time, cultural policies and initiatives shape the urban environment to a similar degree as urban planning rules and regulations do. Projects that are not directly related to Architecture and Design—festivals, performances, food markets, public events, and media interventions—have an increasing influence on how cities perform. Understanding the logic of cultural programming and the role of institutions and the people responsible for it helps to imagine and construct new and productive cityscapes.   
 
This course will provide basic knowledge and experience in contemporary curatorial practices, oscillating between theoretical discussions and practical group assignments. It will include a series of intensive field-trips to museums, galleries, and festivals, introducing students to a wide range of experts of the field from curators and cultural functioneers, to artists and art critics. 
 
The course forms a foundation for the last module of the programme, the Student Exhibition Project.
 
11. Cityscapes Through the Prism of Cultural Studies
Author/lecturer: Jan Levchenko

General description
This course will examine the basic terms and concepts related to Cultural Studies, as they are being practiced in Russia and select Western countries, the key figures of the discipline, and a concise collection of fundamental texts. It will demonstrate the ways in which culture has been defined in the past, as well as how these definitions are being used and re-thought within the current cultural discourse. In addition, it will also offer insight into how culture is analyzed and explained by cultural theory as well as how it is being produced, promoted, and consumed in various contexts.
 
This course will give special attention to the city as the subject of cultural analysis. With lectures, seminars and field-trips it will introduce the students to the major urban issues as seen through the lenses of Cultural Studies. It will also explain the main methodologies currently available for the research of contemporary cityscapes.
 
The city of Moscow will serve as a territory for this course's investigations. Students will explore the centre and the periphery of the megapolis and, through a series of interviews, discussions, and research assignments, try to understand the specificity of its urban culture and the logic of its multiple cultural processes.
 
12. Urban Histories
Author/lecturer: Cor Wagenaar
 
General description
This course will guide students through the history of urbanism, explaining how—in various moments across history—ambitions to improve the living environment and solve the most acute problems of human settlement have helped to formulate effective socio-spatial concepts for the city.
 
Urbanism, in this instance, is understood both as an urban planning activity—with the core objective to enhance the city’s performance in areas such as public health, economic efficiency, social balance, and sustainability—as well as a design practice that deals with spatial organization and built matter (the city’s hardware) while, at the same time, projecting the society of tomorrow and formulating social, political, and philosophical concepts.
 
The aim of this course is to inform students about urbanism at different scales: from micro spaces of everyday life to macro urban developments, shaped by economic and political forces. It will also look beyond professional activities and into grass-routes projects and initiatives instigated by urban dwellers and city communities. 
 
This course is neither chronologically structured, nor organized around key moments in urban history. Rather, it presents a range of fundamentally important urban issues and themes, problematizing them both within a historical perspective and through contemporary examples. In essence, the course is based on the premise that history tells us more about the present and the future than it does about the past. Urban Histories is therefore not about moments frozen in time, but about changes and their agents.
 
 
13. The Next Agenda for Contemporary Architecture
Author/lecturer: Kiril Asse
 
General description
This course is designed to introduce students to the contemporary architectural discourse. It will examine various aspects of the profession, from the more technical and technology-related issues to complex problems of design practice and the phenomenology of space.
 
Starting with the basics, lectures and seminars will explore the issues that have been of a formative importance throughout the history of architecture, and still remain so today (such as the geometry of space, the historical contextualisation of buildings, the symbolic meaning of forms, the idea of scale, etc.). It will also seek to analyse the interrelation between physical and metaphysical space, tracing nuanced changes in how they are presently being understood, and how they interact and overlap with one another.
 
Finally, the course will address the role of an architect in contemporary society, demonstrating the ambitions and objectives of the profession today – both in Russia and the rest of the world. Architecture will be considered both as a product of a designer’s will and as a potent form of media which can be employed and exploited by political and economic forces. Special attention will be paid to how different users experience architecture, and how this experience is formatted by their knowledge, background, and personal characteristics. Students from different professional fields will be encouraged to form or review their understanding of the current architectural agenda.

 

1. Critical Thinking

Duration: 8,5 days at the beginning of the first semester (first year)

Type: introductory

Total hours: 95 hours

Author/lecturer: Nick Axel

Invited speakers: Urban Fauna Lab, METASITU

Scientific Advisors: Benoît Castelnérac (Department of Philosophy and Applied Ethics, University of  Sherbrooke),  Mathieu Marion (Professor, Department of Philosophy, Université du Québec  à Montréal)

 

 

General Description

 

This founding course is intended to promote a methodological approach to critical thinking,

mirroring the teacher’s multidisciplinary research and his commitment in fields such as critical

theory, architecture, and pedagogy. Critical thinking is here presented as an awareness of one’s

own actions, the contexts they take place within and the implications of their technical and

mediated performance.

 

Throughout the course, students will be challenged to bear witness to the contingency of their

own opinions and beliefs through a careful analysis of the means by which they are supported

and articulated. Students will confront and go beyond the limits of their inherited ways of seeing,

thinking, discussing and working, and come to consider these actions themselves as

performative and political design decisions. Critical thinking is therefore treated as a feat of

dexterity, of being able to step outside of one’s own position so as to be able to inhabit and act

within it more strategically.

 

Through a series of lectures, seminars, practicebased and reflexive activities, students will

learn to move from distance to proximity, from subjectivity to objectivity, from identification to

disagreement, and back again. Students will ultimately learn to develop wellreasoned

and incisive arguments; to analyze their truth value (or conversely, their lack thereof). A debate will

catalyze the learning process and transfer of practical knowledge. To ground this way of seeing,

thinking, and acting as an urban practice, a series of fieldwork sessions will focus on exploration, documentation, analysis and representation.

 

The course will not only equip its students with a set of methodological, analytic and practical

tools, but also with the skill and ability to reflect upon the shortcomings of those. The techniques

and foremost the methods put forward during this course will fundamentally inspire the students’

following activities and studies both theoretical and practical throughout the entire MA

 

 

2. Spatial Planning, Analysis and Urban Design

Duration: 1 semester (first year)

Total hours: 114 hours - 45 hours (tutored), 69 hours (individual work)

Author/lecturer: Markus Schaefer, MArch, M.Sc. / SIA / REG A

Invited speakers (via skype):

Stephen Graham (www.ncl.ac.uk/apl/staff/profile/stevegraham.htm)

Parag Khanna (www.paragkhanna.com)

Kim Stanley Robinson (www.kimstanleyrobinson.info)

 

General Description

This course provides a basic conceptual framework to understand and engage with urban phenomena and aims at establishing a working hypothesis for a contemporary praxis in urban design and planning.

It starts from the observation that cities are infrastructures for exchange that allow for a critical density of interactions (the exchange of symbols) and transactions (the exchange of goods), are fueled by social differentiation and division of work and thereby give rise to urban cultures and markets. As there is no apparent limit to the human desire for exchange and differentiation, urban systems are inherently prone to growth and expansion. Institutions and practices such as governmental bodies, monetary systems or religions support this expansion in many ways. Technologies such as transport and communication infrastructures of various sorts speed it up resulting in the volatile and fast paced planetary urbanism of today.

This starting point allows us to understand cities on many scales and from different vantage points. We can develop a general idea of urban hardware (streets, squares, buildings, infrastructure, etc.) and software (institutions, laws, media, narratives, etc.) and test it against the history of cities, their main typologies and genealogy.

But to understand urban systems we also need to understand human beings, their cognition, their behavior and interactions, their ability and need to act in large groups, and we need to look at ecological systems and scaling laws of which cities are a special case.

Finally, we are able to discuss what cities are for, what they provide us with and how we should think about designing them. An understanding of the basic mechanisms of the urban allows us to contextualize trends, evaluate proposals and spot problems – small and large. We can look into and assess the changing role of a designer in the contemporary urban world and discuss tools and techniques available today for a holistic practice based on systemical thinking about the city. 

Throughout the course, we will refer to everyday phenomena and to personal experience, to intuition and project work to test whether our working hypothesis has any use in professional reality.

 

3. Urbanization in Developing Countries

Duration: 3 months (second year)

Type: Non mandatory

Total hours: approx 88

Author/lecturer: Ronald Sean Wall

Invited speakers: Imraan Valodia (Levy Economics Institute), Luca D’Acci (HIS)

 

General Description

The course will be divided into two focal parts. Firstly, a panorama of urbanization processes and problems in developing countries, followed by a focus on the topic of urban inequality.

Generic Overview:

Urbanisation and urban growth have accelerated in developing countries over the past few years. Although the benefits of planned efficient cities in the developed world is well understood, we urgently need to recognize that the majority of the world is undergoing unplanned urbanization that is particularly exacerbated by an unprecedented transition from rural to urban areas. This brings deep risks of economic upheaval, social instability, excessive urban concentration and dispersion, inadequate infrastructure, environmental calamities, booming informality, probable water crises and the likelihood of emergent diseases. The costs of these predicaments stem from the incomprehensibility of megacities, the mismatch between regional and urban development, institutional underdeveloped and insufficient human resources for urban planning and management. In turn, much of this has its roots in colonial and post-colonial forces, but also contemporary indigenous contexts.

 

Therefore this part of the course offers a non-Western-centric view on unfamiliar contexts and topics, will broadly explore the causalities behind developing world urbanization, differences between urbanism and urbanization, outline major patterns of modernization and urban development in post-colonial countries and explain the historically grounded opposition between East and West along with the introduction of the notion of the Global South. Most importantly this part will illustrate that developing world urbanization relates to the changing geography of scarce resources, the increasing division between the haves and have-nots, and the application of spatio-political instruments to enforce this.

 

Specific Focus:

Around the world inequality is rampant, not only in the developing world, but in most parts of the developed world too. Over a period of 250 years it is seen that globally the accumulation of wealth is increasingly unequally distributed. It means that the world is not becoming flat as postulated by Thomas Friedman, but spikier. Geographically, only a handful of cities hold the majority of global wealth. In fact, New York, London, Paris and Tokyo control about 20% of global investments. Multinational corporations locate in these major financial hubs where they control production and market processes across the globe.

 

The disproportionate distribution of capital is not a random event but is determined by social, cultural, economic, political and spatial characteristics of cities. Not only is this skewness seen internationally between cities, but the same patterns are mirrored within developed and developing cities. In emerging markets e.g. Peru, Russia and South Africa, inequality is flourishing. The rise of inequality perpetuates increased social unrest and conflict within and between cities, further fuelled by the IT revolution, which makes the majority increasingly aware of the magnitude of their misfortune. In this sense, confronting the spatial and function inequality of cities is one of the greatest challenges mankind faces. To tackle it will require a novel economic and spatial approach.

 

The idea is to study and compare the inequality of Moscow and Johannesburg, both extremes in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Russia and South Africa have some of the highest inequality in the world (Credit Suisse 2014 wealth report). South Africa has a much higher inequality today than during the apartheid regime. The unequal distribution of capital is most evident in Moscow and Johannesburg, but for different social, cultural, economic and political reasons. More importantly these functional characteristics have crystallized into spatial inequality, making this study ideal for economics and urban planning students to explore together.

 

In the diagram it is seen that urban inequality is based on the distribution of wealth and wellbeing, and how this is mediated through technology (e.g. transport and IT). These main categories will form the organizational division of this part of the course.

4. Metropolitan Data

Duration: Second semester (First year)

Type: non mandatory

Total hours: 76 hours

Author/lecturer: Philipp Kats, Ekaterina Serova

Invited speakers: TBC

 

General description

In the past decades we saw multiple disciplines, for instance, sociology and linguistics changing significantly under the influence and with the help of fast developing computer sciences. Today, when technology finally conquered our big cities, it offers new possibilities and presents new challenges. It is now the turn of urban planning, management, and design to be rethought through new technologies. There is, indeed, a great potential for an urban technological revolution, as the whole institution of urban management and governance is based on data-driven decisions. Data classification and analysis benefit immensely from the advantages contemporary technology brings. Therefore, it is very important that various urban professionals understand fundamental technological concepts and learn how to deal with their potential limitations and bottlenecks on the daily basis.

This course provides basic knowledge on information technologies, techniques, and practicalities of contemporary urban informatics to students with no specific technical background, while helping to use informatics to solve complex city problems. It is a case-based course which requires only general analytical skills and the ability to think critically.

 

 

5. Access to Knowledge and Data

Duration: First semester (First Year)

Type: Mandatory

Total hours: 76 hours

Author/lecturer: Philipp Kats (Strelka Institute), Egor Kotov (HSU)

Invited speakers: Elena Korotkova (Skolkovo), Polina Kolozaridi (HSE)

 

General description

Virtually all design today is research-based. From web-service design to a new public space layout, every contemporary project collects and analyses data, investigates contexts and tests design solutions with research. As a multidisciplinary holistic practice Urban Design works across the fields of Urban studies, Architectural Design, Urban planning, and Urban Design projects balancing between science and art require the research-based approach perhaps even more than any other discipline.

Type of the research, however, can vary from case to case, depending on the specific task, context, timeframe and objectives of the Project. How to choose the right methodology for a particular research? How to identify relevant experts and reliable sources effectively, even in the unfamiliar environment? How to access, obtain, structure, assess and store information in the most convenient and quick way? How to think critically and make conceptual conclusions based on proper data analysis? How to link the research with design and make the former enrich the latter?

This course helps student navigate the vast and, at times, murky sea of information – both online and off-line, ­– indicating safe point of access and giving tips on research structuring. It is an invitation to discuss the research ethics, objectives, planning and management. Students will work with a range of research methodologies, including qualitative and quantative analyses, and will learn how to sequence research and design objectives to achieve best results.

At the end of the course, students will present a group research project on the defined subject.

 

6. From Storymaking to Strategic Communication

Duration: 2 years

Type: mandatory

Total hours: 190

Author/lecturer: Daniele Bellieri, Stefano Mirti

Invited speakers: Patrick Revell (The Guardian), Misha Smetana (Afisha), others (TBC)

 

General description

This course, bridging the first and the second year of the programme, provides students with an effective, up-to-date knowledge of the multiple ways and formats to communicate an urban design project.

During the first year’s module, the course will focus on storytelling, investigating how urban designers can benefit from understanding various narrative techniques which have been revived and empowered by the emergence of digital media in the last decade.

In the second year’s module, the course will tackle a series of issues more specifically connected to the world of media, investigating how the strategic communication of an urban design project must pass through a merger of registers and approaches formed in the fields of journalism, marketing, and media studies.


Multidisciplinarity

This course is multidisciplinary by definition. Its purpose is to make various professionals understand the forma mentis of a storyteller. Architecture/urbanism, literature, art, and cinema will be the four main fields in which students will operate with Moscow serving as a territory of inspiration.



Storymaking (First Year’s Module)

Duration: 1 year

Total hours: 114

Tutor: Stefano Mirti

 

General description

One of the many ways to frame a design project is to present it as a story. In fact, any project or research unfolds as a narrative, whose chapters - from the initial intuition to the final presentation or realisation - can be written either a priori or a posteriori. Furthermore, some of the 20th century’s most appreciated urban projects owe part of their enduring recognition to a well-articulated story – related either to a project’s concept, or to a specific reinterpretation of the past which inspired the  proposal.

 

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the various ways in which stories can improve both the research-based design process and the communication of a project. It will help students understand both the timeless, universal dimensions of storymaking (linguistic devices, suspense techniques, logic of the plot), and the evolving landscape of media which any contemporary narrator should know how to navigate.

 

In fact, the relevance of storymaking and the narrative drive of design have dramatically increased in the last decade, largely due to the emergence of a wide variety of digital media platforms. Digital revolution has ushered in new ways of communication of urban design, often challenging the habitual relationship between design professionals and the general public.

 

Strategic Communication (Second Year’s Module)

Duration: 1 year (two blocks of three day each, in early November and mid December 2017)

Total hours: 76

Author/lecturer: Daniele Bellieri

 

General description

This module will investigate how journalism, marketing, and media studies frame the urban discourse, and how today’s designers can switch between these different registers when communicating the research-based design project.

At the end of this module, students will be required to actively test all of the storymaking and communication skills acquired during the Critical Thinking course, the Storymaking module, and the Research and Project simulators, including argumentation, build up of a story,  presentation, and public speaking. Students will be divided into groups and will participate in a competition, in which each group will be asked to analyse a design project realised by others, and to argue for it in front of an external jury.

 

7. Legal Regulations of Urban Development

Duration: First semester (first year)

Type: Mandatory

Total hours: 16 lectures + 22 seminars

Author/lecturer: Mikhail Yakubov (JLL)

 

General description

The course explains the role that legal regulations play in urban development and land use in contemporary cities. The course consists of two chapters. Chapter 1 is devoted to methodology and general principles of regulating of urban development and  explains fundamentals of the discipline, while Chapter 2 offers a practical overview of different national concepts of urban planning and legal regulations in both developed and developing countries.

We intentionally do not focus on Russia only, but rather consider the Russian situation one of many interesting examples that illustrates the transformation of the socialist top-down administrative system into a number of market-driven urban planning institutions. We begin with a  discussion on what and how shapes the land-use models and influences the approach to urban regulations in the course of history. Students will get to know how exactly the regulatory environment reflects political, economic, religious, cultural and other legacies in various countries .

After covering the fundamentals, we will concentrate on two major approaches to land-use regulations and planning: the «American» and the «European». We will collectively look at the strengths and weaknesses of each type and try to understand what are the main guiding principles one should be aware of in order to work effectively in each of these regulatory environments. Then we will analyse different types of  citizens’ involvement into planning and decision-making processes with the special attention given to developing markets with no consistent tradition of bottom-up initiatives (Russia, South Africa, China, etc.).

A special attention will be given to issues of real estate which is commonly understood as the principal worth for the majority of population. Since legal regulations of urban development have an immediate and direct impact on vital economic features of real estate (its value, capitalisation, liquidity, etc.)   we will also look at different aspects of the capitalisation of the real estate and investigate how formal rules and registration system (registry and protection of deeds, execution of agreements and contracts, etc.) affect the use of capital in this sphere.

At the end of the Chapter 1, we will discuss how the long term microeconomic trends affect real estate; how do criseses happen and how do they unfold (or are being dealt with) in different economies?. We conclude with an analyses of the series of large-scale and long-term projects (i.e. Canary Warf in London, La Defence in Paris) that survived radical fluctuations of the market and still managed to retain their value with a focus on special regulatory regimes applied in these instances.

Chapter 2 explains the specific characteristics of regulatory frameworks in the following countries:

                 USA

                 UK

                 Germany

                 Eastern Europe (Poland)

                 India

                 China

                 The South African Republic

                 Russia.

                  

For each country, we will study the major planning principles and documents that regulate urban development on the national, regional, and local levels. As a result of this study, students will be able to put together a manual for how effectively identify the most important sources of information in a new context and how to start applying local regulatory rules quickly and accurately in any country they get to work in. 

In addition to lectures and collective discusssions, students will participate in the seminars structured around the practical group assignment. Working in groups of three, students will analyse existing rules and regulations which provide the guidelines for the development of the large territory adjacent to the Sheremetievo Airport in Moscow and will try formulate a concept vision for this piece of land.

This assignment comprised of the site analysis, market analysis and international benchmarking of various concepts for an aerotropolis will allow for individual investigations and a collective brainstorming session on potential development strategies. A the end of the seminar, each group will have 20 minutes to present their ideas as well as the proposal for possible changes in legal regulations (should any be needed for implementation of the concept) to the jury of site developers and municipal officials. .

A complementary field-trip to the areas of Moscow large-scale development will help understand how recent urban planning and regulatory initiatives have affected the city environment (Moscow City, pedestrian zones, Avia-Park mall, etc.)  

 

The City: Economics, Sociology, Politics

Hours: 126

Duration: 2 years

General description

This course is a critical introduction to how Economics, Sociology and Politicial Studies understand and investigate the urban environment. The course is interdisciplinary and consists of the three interrelated blocks, each dedicated to a particular disciplinary inquiry into the issues of cities. All blocks introduce basic definitions and operational terms of their respective disciplines and provide an overview of the field along with the guidelines and bibiography for further individual studies.

The course is instrumental for professionals planning to practice research-based urban design. A practical assignement and a series of field-trips are included in every block to help understand practical implications of the more theoretical knowledge provided during lectures. The course also  shows the specificity of the Russian socio-economic and political development and thereby prepares the students for their work in Russia (and, by extrapolation, in other developing countries).

Each block is concluded by a seminar co-curated by the tutors of all blocks to expose the strong ties between the fields of Economics, Sociology and Political Studies and help discuss the same issues from various perspectives of these disciplines.

 

Block “Economics”

Duration: 3 months (first year)

Tutor: Elena Korotkova (Skolkovo)

Total hours: 48

General description

Since 1990s urban development in Russia is not anymore administratively regulated by the state only. Citizens are the new participants of urban development process in addition to municipal authorities, business and industries (whose interests were pivotal during the Soviet times). Now all parties have to interact striving to achieve their own, at times rather different goals.

The course starts with the place that urban economics occupies in the universe of urban studies. Then we will discuss basic questions of microeconomics, as they are more easy to understand for students with different backgrounds. We won’t talk about philosophy, main theories and history of economics in the beginning leaving these questions for the last lectures – when they will be more graspable for all the students in the group.

Microeconomics is the study of goal-oriented human behavior in environments characterized by a relative scarcity of resources or delimited by alternative exclusive courses of action. We will devote the first lectures to understand how people make (or should make) individual decisions that involve consumption and production tradeoffs in the city.

We will then apply these insights to study the logics and behavior of firms in competitive urban markets where millions of agents are making such decisions independently in a decentralized way.

In fact, markets do not always function in a truly decentralized fashion: we will devote some time to study monopolistic and oligopolistic markets, “market failures” and public regulation needed in the city within these kinds of markets.

Conflicts of interest arising in situations in which different parties have different information and different plans are at the core of many issues in urban policy. After discussion of the common economic situation in Russia and spatial aspects of this situation we will devote some time to municipal finances, balances between public and private interests (and role of the city administration in these unstable equilibriums), as well as to urban governance and policies affecting city economics.

Armed with the ideas of three-dimensional urban economic development, we will devote the last discussion to the basic ideas of economics, role of the state in it, different modern economical theories..

 

Block “Sociology”

Tutor: Victor Vakhshtayn (MSSES, RANEPA, UoM)

Duration: 3 weeks (first year)

Total hours: 40

General description

Epistemologically speaking, urban social life does not exist in nature as rocks, trees and bodies. What we call “city”, “community”, “place” and “politics” depend on our theoretical language with its own categories, distinctions, concepts and metaphors. Sociological theory is just one of many conceptual languages (quite heterogeneous and inconsistent one) allowing researchers to see urban life as specific social phenomenon. General aim of this course block is to give students a general understanding of sociological language: how different conceptualizations picture the city, what analytical tools they provide, how to use these tools in order to grasp and explain urban life.

With regard to this core aim some special tasks are to be formulated:

§  To introduce fundamental concepts in sociological theory and their application to urban life;

§  To promote a reflection on contemporary theoretical problems and empirical finding in urban sociology;

§  To acquaint students with methodological basics in empirical urban research;

§  To develop the ability to describe and analyze observable (in sociological optics) urban phenomena.

 

Block “Politics”

Tutor: Kirill Martynov (HSE)

Duration: 3 months (second year)

Total hours: 40

 

General description

Historically the city was a place of power and politics. In the current situation it is also the place where different interests face each other – those of pedestrians and motorists, rich and poor, developers and residents of the district, locals and migrants, officials and activists. The contemporary political science studies the city as a source of political power and also as a public sphere, where different forms of conflicts emerge - on a global, national and local scales. The objectives of the course is to give students an understanding of the political processes in modern cities, to acquaint them with the analysis tools that are used in the political science, as well as to talk about the political system of Russia and its specifics.

The course begins with an overview of the basic concepts of contemporary political science (power, democracy, participation, political process). The second part discusses the city as an arena of political confrontation. The third part is devoted to municipal politics and local governing. The fourth part is about the specifics of the Russian political system and the role of urban communities in it. Students should understand what political aspects of urban life they must take into account during their work, and how one can fruitfully cooperate with local communities and authorities.

 

 

9. Curatorial Practices in Urban Projects

 

Duration: Two Weeks (second year, second semester)

Type: Non Mandatory

Total hours: 50 hours

Tutor/author: Anna Trapkova

 

Guest speakers: Marina Loshak (director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts), Anton Belov (director of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art), Olga Shishko (director of the MediaArtLab), Alisa Prudnikova (Director of the Ural Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts, NCCA, Ekaterinburg)

 

This course is supported by the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow

 

 

General description

Over last few decades the concept of curatorship has become central to contemporary art. It played a formative role in the approach of almost all cultural institutions after the Second World War, becoming one of fundamental signifiers of the transition to a post-Modern way of practicing art. Curators became key players in the new cultural industries, rivaling artists in their professional significance and challenging the traditional perception of authorship. By the end of the twentieth century, curators had helped to radically change both artistic institutions and their audiences, introducing conceptual meta-narratives and different approaches to how art is demonstrated publicly.

 

Today, curatorial practices transcend the confines of gallery and museum spaces, bleeding into urban and natural environments. No longer a prerogative of the art world, they inform and inspire design activities of all sorts, propagating a holistic way of thinking about objects and actions in space and time.

 

Contemporary Architects and Urban Designers explore territories beyond their professional frontiers and, in some instances, come to be meta-narrators, operating not only within the physical built environment but also at the intersection of the social, the cultural, the economic, and the political – similar to how curators do. In the same way as an art curator, Urban Designers operating today combine specific professional skill-sets with the qualities of a researcher, a visionary, a producer, an administrator, a communicator, an artist, and even an entrepreneur.

 

Explicit similarities, as well as stark differences, between contemporary curatorial and design practices allow for a productive discussion about professionalism and ‘amateurship’, individual and collective authorship, strategic planning and spontaneity, technological achievements and set backs, state and private ownership, and many other contemporaneously relevant issues.

 

At the same time, cultural policies and initiatives shape the urban environment to a similar degree as urban planning rules and regulations do. Projects that are not directly related to Architecture and Design—festivals, performances, food markets, public events, and media interventions—have an increasing influence on how cities perform. Understanding the logic of cultural programming and the role of institutions and the people responsible for it helps to imagine and construct new and productive cityscapes.  

 

This course will provide basic knowledge and experience in contemporary curatorial practices, oscillating between theoretical discussions and practical group assignments. It will include a series of intensive field-trips to museums, galleries, and festivals, introducing students to a wide range of experts of the field from curators and cultural functioneers, to artists and art critics.

 

The course forms a foundation for the last module of the programme, the Student Exhibition Project.

 

 

10. Cityscapes Through the Prism of Cultural Studies

 

Type: Non Mandatory

Duration: three months (first year)

Total hours: 50

 

Author/lecturer: Jan Levchenko

Invited speakers: Vassily Zharkov (The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences), Julia Biedash (School of Cultural Studies of the Higher School of Economics)

 

 

General description

This course will examine the basic terms and concepts related to Cultural Studies, as they are being practiced in Russia and select Western countries, the key figures of the discipline, and a concise collection of fundamental texts. It will demonstrate the ways in which culture has been defined in the past, as well as how these definitions are being used and re-thought within the current cultural discourse. In addition, it will also offer insight into how culture is analyzed and explained by cultural theory as well as how it is being produced, promoted, and consumed in various contexts.

 

This course will give special attention to the city as the subject of cultural analysis. With lectures, seminars and field-trips it will introduce the students to the major urban issues as seen through the lenses of Cultural Studies. It will also explain the main methodologies currently available for the research of contemporary cityscapes.

 

The city of Moscow will serve as a territory for this course's investigations. Students will explore the centre and the periphery of the megapolis and, through a series of interviews, discussions, and research assignments, try to understand the specificity of its urban culture and the logic of its multiple cultural processes.

 

 

11. Urban Histories

Duration: Four months (first year)

Type: Mandatory

Total hours:

Author/lecturer: Cor Wagenaar

 

General description

Thiscourse will guidestudentsthroughthehistoryofurbanism, explaining how—in various moments across history—ambitions to improve the living environment and solve the most acute problems of human settlement have helped to formulate effective socio-spatial concepts for the city.

 

Urbanism, in this instance, is understood both as an urban planning activity—with the core objective to enhance the city’s performance in areas such as public health, economic efficiency, social balance, and sustainability—as well as a design practice that deals with spatial organization and built matter (the city’s hardware) while, at the same time, projecting the society of tomorrow and formulating social, political, and philosophical concepts.

 

Theaim of this course istoinform students about urbanism at different scales: from micro spaces of everyday life to macro urban developments, shaped by economic and political forces. It will also look beyond professional activities and into grass-routes projects and initiatives instigated by urban dwellers and city communities.

 

Thiscourseisneitherchronologicallystructured,nororganized aroundkey moments inurbanhistory. Rather, itpresentsarangeof fundamentallyimportant urban issues and themes, problematizingthemboth within a historical perspectiveandthroughcontemporaryexamples. In essence, the course is based on the premise that historytells us more aboutthepresent and the future than it does aboutthepast. Urban Histories is thereforenotabout momentsfrozenintime,butaboutchangesandtheiragents.

 

 

12. Urbanization in Developing Countries (Part II. Russia)

Patterns of (Under) Development

 

Duration: two weeks (second year)

Total hours: …

 

Author/lecturer: Nadya Nilina

Invited speakers: tbc

General description

Part Two of the course ‘Urbanization in Developing Countries’ will examine the evolution of city planning and the design of Russian cities over the last three hundred years, with a particular focus on Socialist urban concepts. It will complement the broader nature of Part One, providing detailed insights into the specific character of Russian urbanization.

 

This course is an attempt to position Russian urban practice within the larger context of global urban history, trace its origins to European culture, examine its connections to American urbanism, as well as identify and discuss concepts that can be considered vernacular and original.

 

Special attention will be paid to the physical, built form of Russian cities – their spatial organization and morphology. During debates and interviews with invited speakers, students will critically assess the connection between the politics, ideology, and propaganda, exploring how they affect fundamental qualities of the Russian urban environment.

 

Students will also research the migration and cross-fertilization of ideas between Russia and the West and examine the influence which Soviet centralized planning exerted over the vast territory of the USSR, Eastern Europe, Cuba, and some African countries after the Second World War .

 

 

13. The Next Agenda for Contemporary Architecture

 

Type: Non Mandatory

Duration: Three months (First Year)

Total hours: 190

Author/lecturer: Kiril Asse

Invited speakers: TBC

 

General description

This course is designed to introduce students to the contemporary architectural discourse. It will examine various aspects of the profession, from the more technical and technology-related issues to complex problems of design practice and the phenomenology of space.

 

Starting with the basics, lectures and seminars will explore the issues that have been of a formative importance throughout the history of architecture, and still remain so today (such as the geometry of space, the historical contextualisation of buildings, the symbolic meaning of forms, the idea of scale, etc.). It will also seek to analyse the interrelation between physical and metaphysical space, tracing nuanced changes in how they are presently being understood, and how they interact and overlap with one another.

 

Finally, the course will address the role of an architect in contemporary society, demonstrating the ambitions and objectives of the profession today – both in Russia and the rest of the world. Architecture will be considered both as a product of a designer’s will and as a potent form of media which can be employed and exploited by political and economic forces. Special attention will be paid to how different users experience architecture, and how this experience is formatted by their knowledge, background, and personal characteristics. Students from different professional fields will be encouraged to form or review their understanding of the current architectural agenda.