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Cities of Future to be Designed at New HSE Lab

Vicente Guallart  and Rodion Eremeev in the building of the Laboratory for Prototyping the City of the FutureVicente Guallart and Rodion Eremeev in the building of the Laboratory for Prototyping the City of the Future

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.

Future is coming

Cities of the future are becoming our present. The application of modern technologies in urban construction, implementation of new power systems, efficient use of resources, and modernization of urban space are the reality that is faced by urbanists, technologists, engineers, architect, and transport planners every day. The task of the new HSE laboratory is to provide maximum opportunities for practice and create an environment for experiments. HSE will have a platform where students will be involved in designing upsides with professional developers. They will be able to analyze data and build models in order to create their own environment transformation projects, as well as to invent effective solutions for the problems caused by fast urbanization.

One of the main ‘perks’ of the lab is its equipment. It will be equipped with the most cutting-edge devices

According to Rodion Eremeev, project manager at the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, the problem of adjusting the city environment to the needs of modern urban residents is relevant for the whole world. The laboratory residents will be able to learn about the projects that are already being implemented, such as city-wide installation of air pollution or trash can fullness sensors, and tracking the transport flows in order to detect the most loaded or accident clusters.

‘The focus of our work will be the solution of various problems that will be faced by cities in the future. We’ll analyze the impact of new technologies on the city’s behavior; for example, how the life and movement vectors of pedestrians and drivers will change, for example, as driverless cars develop. Driverless cars can’t just simply enter the cities. For that, the cities would have to be reinvented, and new infrastructure will have to be created’, Rodion Eremeev emphasized, ‘The current studies and possible student projects will help us understand how cities will be changing. Practical tasks at the laboratory will mostly be related to sensors and big data. We’ll also probably be able to create some brand new city archetypes’.

Academic supervisor of the laboratory will be Vicente Guallart, former chief architect for the city of Barcelona and head of the new educational programme at the HSE Graduate School of Urbanism, ‘City and Technology’.

Tools and machines

One of the main ‘perks’ of the lab is its equipment. It will be equipped with the most cutting-edge devices, such as 3D printers, laser cutters/engravers, milling machines with digital readout, etc. ‘The students will have access to the machines and devices that haven’t been accessible before. They usually are located in closed organizations, which are often situated far from where they live and study. And now this equipment is not only available for studies and experiments, but is to be found in the very heart of Moscow’, Rodion Eremeev noted.

The walls of the place where the cities of the future will be created, store more than a century-long history of the building

All the machines will be in the main lab venue, and the most noisy and ‘dirty’ of them will be located in a special room. A small window in the wall will allow observing their operation. And everyone interested will be able to see all the projects and models of the lab; it is located on the first floor, with huge windows facing the street, and the residents are not going to hide behind any blinds.

History of the place

The laboratory will be located in the HSE’s main building on 20 Myasnitskaya Ulitsa, in a former lecture classroom. According to Nadezhda Khort, coordinator of the laboratory, a routine renovation unexpectedly ended up in reconstruction and restoration of the historic look of the room. It turned out that the walls of the place where the cities of the future will be created, store more than a century-long history of the building. 

Soviet newspapers found during renovation

When the workers started the renovation, they found a real cultural layer under the pink paint and dropped ceiling. ‘On some of the walls, we found glued Soviet newspapers of the early 1960s. We even were able to read some articles about the launch of the Molniya communications satellite’, Rodion Eremeev added, ‘On the other walls, we found a laying of bricks that were obviously hand-baked and included a manufacturer’s stamp. This means that the wall was created in pre-revolutionary Russia’. We covered the newspaper fragments and the brick wall with protective coat and left them open.

Vladimir Shukhov and Shukhov Lab

Despite the fact that the new HSE lab has an official name, it will most probably be recognized by its second name, which is already a brand name – Shukhov Lab, after Vladimir Shukhov, a renowned engineer, architect and inventor. This name was chosen not only because Shukhov made a huge contribution to the development of urban, engineering, transportation and utility technology. For about 30 years, he worked in the same room where the Shukhov Lab will now be located.

In 1880, Alexander Bari, a Russian engineer, entrepreneur and public figure, opened a company, which later became known both in Russia and abroad, in the building at 20 Myasnitskaya Ulitsa. The company employees, including Vladimir Shukhov, executed various contracts, from steelworks for stoves, to construction of bridges and buildings. One of the first Shukhov’s projects for the company on Myasnitskaya was a new steam boiler model.

Open Day

The future students, as well as everyone interested in the cities of the future and the artifacts of the past will be able to freely attend the restored venue on December 15, 2016, and see the Shukhov Lab with their own eyes. An Open Day of the international master’s programme ‘City and Technology’ will take place here. Most of the programme’s courses will take place at the lab.

Teachers and researchers at Shukhov Lab are professional engineers and architects. They will speak about the contents of the programme, will demonstrate the work of 3D printers, laser engravers and CNC machines, will tell the future students and the lab guests about their projects at the interface of urbanism and modern technology. Vicente Guallart, the programme academic supervisor, will make a presentation about the programme, and a lecture by Bruno Moser, head of Urban Design at Fosters + Partners architect practice, on ‘Past, present, possible: Technologies of the city’ will complete the Open Day. The language of the Open Day will be English.

More information on the Open Day programme is available on the webpage of the master’s programme ‘City and Technology’.

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