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Renovation: What Moscow Can Learn From Paris

The HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism has made a documentary on renovation in Paris. In it, government officials, architects and residents of the Paris suburbs discuss social and urban projects changing the city. The film was shown on December 21 at Shukhov Lab.

The film, titled Maison d'être, was shot as part of the summer school Les Ateliers d’Eté, organized by the HSE Graduate School of Urbanism and the French association D’est. The filmmakers spent two weeks investigating communities in the outskirts of Paris, such as Montreuil, Nanterre, Saint-Denis, and Clichy-sous-Bois. Many of these areas went into decline after the end of the industrial boom at the second half of the 20th century, have seen rising immigrant populations and taken on a reputation of ‘problem areas’. The French government has launched several programmes to renew the infrastructure of areas like this in the country’s biggest cities, and some of them have already delivered positive change.

‘We wanted to see how national urban programmes are transformed into an environment that people can call home, where they feel safe and which they don’t want to leave’, said Marina Sapunova, one of the filmmakers and expert at the HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism. Representatives of French national agencies and local residents spoke about these transformations in the film.

The Paris experience could prove to be highly relevant to Moscow, where a new renovation programme will cover 10% of the city. ‘We should look at the experience of other cities and countries’, said Alexei Novikov, Dean of the HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, ‘We thought that Paris might be particularly interesting in this regard. Not only because it is similar to Moscow in terms of its layout, but also because it was an example of renovation in the 19th century’.

The film includes a lot of discussion for a particular reason. ‘Discussions and debates are essential for French urban policy, since by talking people can discuss things as they are, negotiate, and make plans regarding the future transformation of the city’, explained Marina Sapunova.

The film will be part of the new online educational platform, which the Graduate School of Urbanism is  launching as part of the Erasmus+ programme. Materials not used in this project will be used in other projects. The film closes by taking the viewer from a French community to the Moscow district of Severnoye Chertanovo, and the filmmakers behind Maison d'être will follow-up with a documentary study of Moscow districts.


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