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Regular version of the site

Project Seminar

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
1 year, 1, 2 semester


Вагенаар Корнелис

Smirnova, Anastasia

Course Syllabus


This course was initiated in the times when our understanding of how and what conceptual designers should do to create sustainable and healthy urban environments is being affected by the global pandemic. The course offers various professional points of view on the contemporary Healthy Cities concept and introduces the students to some of architectural and urban strategies that aim to promote public health. It also lays the groundwork for a debate on how the pandemic may impact mainstream discourses, exploring the opportunities for systemic change. Will the momentum help to accelerate innovation in architecture and urbanism? Will this crisis convince policymakers and the public authorities to use all available resources, including architectural and urban planning, to promote public health? What kind of professional team is needed to respond adequately to these multifaceted challenges? What kind of urban structures should be designed to address the main public health hazards and help to avert future pandemics of various kinds? This course invites the students – researchers and practitioners alike - to imagine an alternative to the ubiquitous socialist mass-produced prefabricated living quarter (microraryon) and set up a brief for the next model of adaptable estates that can offer physical, mental, and social well-being during future crises and beyond.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Provide the students with a conceptual framework to understand and further explore the topic of Urban Health
  • Enable the student to expand on this framework, venture into adjacent fields of knowledge and ask independent questions
  • Explain the difference between various approaches to the topic and help to form own opinions
  • Increase the awareness of the fundamental role the issue of health plays in the city development and formulate own professional stance towards the issue
  • Understand what kind of the new professionals are and will be in demand for the projects focused on Urban Health and what kind of coalitions could work effectively to create holistic designs
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Students will learn about doing research in multidisciplinary team
  • Students will be able to understand various professional languages, take into account different professional positions, and use specific expertise of others to start developing their own holistic design concepts in the field of Urban Health
  • Students will learn about the defining role of the research-based Brief in contemporary design practice and will understand the process of its construction better
  • Students will start building the tool boxes of concepts and approaches for personal practical work in the field of Urban Health
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • 1.1. Introduction to the Course
    The Unit is led by Anastassia Smirnova (SVESMI). This kick-off session will allow students to introduce themselves with short individual presentations and discuss the goals and the structure of the course in an open debate with the curators.
  • 1.2. Disease and the City
    The Unit is led by professor Cornelis Wagenaar (University of Groningen, NL). Lecture. A historical overview of how urban structures have been shaped by medical needs and how the humanity’s fight against diseases affected the production of space in various times. Homework. General Reading (Course Bibliography). Seminar. Disease and the City Today: How to think about Urban Health after 2020?
  • 1.3. Healthy City as a Concept and Practical Design Objective
    The Unit is led by Alvaro Valera Sosa (Technische Universität Berlin, Germany). An inquiry into the very idea of the Healthy City and how design could affect Urban and Planetary health, with a specific focus on the overlap between the field of medical research and spatial studies.
  • 1.4. Architecture of Health Today: Challenges and Discoveries
    The Unit is led by professor Thomas W. Guthknecht (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zürich, Zwitserland). This unit will look at the contemporary architecture of hospitals and other medical facilities, critically reflecting upon habitual patterns of architectural production and offering an insight into the most advanced recent projects, which search for innovative frameworks.
  • 1.5. Public Health Systems and Epidemics
    The Unit is led by professor Sijmen A. (Menno) Reijneveld (University of Groningen, NL). A conversation about various approaches to Public Health in different countries will help to understand both political and social foundations of strategic polices that aim to prevent and/or avert epidemics in contemporary world. A special attention is paid to the very definition of epidemics today and introduction of the epidemiology as scientific, systemic, and data-driven studies.
  • 1.6. Economics of Health
    The Unit is led by professor Reinhard Busse (Technische Universität Berlin, Germany). An introduction to the field of health-related economics will provide instrumental insights into how healthcare is being managed and financed today both by public and private bodies, with a special focus on economic challenges of fighting large-scale epidemics in the 21st century.
  • 1.7. Special Annex. Moscow Urban Forum Agenda
    The Unit is led by Grigory Maltsev (Urban Forum). This discussion about specific Russian situation with Urban Health and the 2019 Moscow Urban Forum conference prompts to think about the next adaptable patterns of habitation that could become an alternative to the prevailing spatial structures of the Russian capital.
  • 2.1. Pandemic Estate. Brief for an Adaptable Urban Cluster
    Within the framework of this workshop, the team of students is invited to curate an imaginary international urban planning competition for the new type of urban district (an estate) in the Moscow region and to create a unique research-based brief for it in a form of an illustrated online document. The objective of this exercise is not the design itself, but the definition of the goals of the design of new flexible urban typology that could reassert and manage itself, depending on the specific epidemiological situation. Subsequently, this Brief could be used as an assignment for collective and individual projects within the master’s program.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking active participation in seminars (Block 1)
  • non-blocking quality of research and data collection (Block 2)
  • non-blocking forward conceptual thinking based on research (Block 2)
  • non-blocking course attendance (Block 1)
  • non-blocking quality of ideation (Block 2)
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 semester)
    0.25 * active participation in seminars (Block 1) + 0.25 * course attendance (Block 1) + 0.15 * forward conceptual thinking based on research (Block 2) + 0.15 * quality of ideation (Block 2) + 0.2 * quality of research and data collection (Block 2)


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Andrew L. Dannenberg, Howard Frumkin, & Richard J. Jackson. (2011). Making Healthy Places : Designing and Building for Health, Well-being, and Sustainability. Island Press.
  • Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Yogan Pillay, & Timothy H. Holtz. (2016). Textbook of Global Health: Vol. Fourth edition. Oxford University Press.
  • Evelyne de Leeuw, & Jean Simos. (2017). Healthy Cities : The Theory, Policy, and Practice of Value-Based Urban Planning. Springer.
  • Howard Frumkin, Lawrence Frank, & Richard J. Jackson. (2004). Urban Sprawl and Public Health : Designing, Planning, and Building for Healthy Communities. Island Press.
  • Sarkar, C., Gallacher, J., & Webster, C. (2014). Healthy Cities. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Jackson, R. J. (2003). The Impact of the Built Environment on Health: An Emerging Field.