'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.
HSE Graduate School of Urbanism has announced the results of the first international contest for students and young professionals ‘Cities For a Flying World’. The contest took place from May 29 to November 7, 2017 and was a part of the admission campaign for the new Master’s programme of the HSE Graduate School of Urbanism ‘Prototyping Future Cities’.
On November 27, Sonia Guelton, who teaches Real Estate Economics, Public Finance, and Development Economics at University Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC), will arrive at HSE to deliver several lectures over the course of a week at the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism. Her lectures will cover housing market tensions in the EU, density in housing markets, and the role of public policy in addressing these issues. Ahead of her visit, she spoke with the HSE News Service in depth about her lectures, her research interests, and the lessons she has learned over the course of her career.
On July 17-28 an intensive course titled ‘In-transition lab: Structure as an Urban Catalyst’ by the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism (Moscow) and the Architectural Association School of Architecture (London) was held at Moscow’s Shukhov lab.
The HSE School of Cultural Studies has designed a museum dedicated to the Soviet-era apartment complexes called Khrushchyovka buildings. The plans of the museum were presented at a meeting held by the Russian Ministry of Culture in Tsarskoye Selo. Under the guidance of cultural studies Associate Professor Irina Gluschenko, undergraduate and post-graduate students began working on the project long before the topic of citywide building renovation became part of public discussion in Moscow.
Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism at HSE is regularly holding events and activities open to the general public. Deputy Dean Vera Leonova told The HSE Look about the goals of such open projects, benefits of collaborations and future plans of the school.
The new academic journal is entitled ‘Urban Studies and Practices’. The first issue came out this September. Now a call for papers for special issue on Migrants and the City has been announced. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2017.
Shukhov Lab, a Laboratory for Experimental Urban Design, has opened at HSE. Participants in a roundtable discussion dedicated to the laboratory’s opening agreed that to create the cities of the future, the present must be analyzed without adjusting to the forecasts.
The HSE Graduate School of Urbanism opens a Laboratory for Experimental Urban Design. At first, it will organize lectures and meetings with experts in urbanism, and in the new academic year, the laboratory will become an educational and research platform. But you can already meet it now – the Open Day will take place on December 15, 2016.
This summer five students from the HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism participated in the second summer school Les Ateliers d’Eté, organized by the French-Russian platform D’est and the Graduate School of Urbanism in Paris and Limoges.
Rotterdam, Moscow, Venice. Graduate School of Urbanism at the World’s Largest Architecture Exhibitions
In April and May, the Graduate School of Urbanism (GSU) took part in three of the largest architecture biennales, held in Rotterdam, Moscow, and Venice. The exhibitions presented the results of independent research carried out by the School, student projects, and the results of an international student workshop organized by GSU.