Research by HSE Staff and Students Bringing Moscow Together
Students at the HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism and the HSE School of Sociology took part in an urbanism conference entitled ‘Images of Moscow’. They joined experts to discuss how to build local brands, create new points of interest in various parts of the capital, and how to attract more tourists.
The key topics included transformation of studies of local regions, urban districts and communities, new forms of excursions, and how to increase engagement of cultural institutions with the community. These aspects form the basis of ‘Moscow studies 2.0’, which, according to Ivan Mitin, Associate Professor at theVysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, contribute to the image of areas in the city, which will change the people’s attitudes to their houses, neighbourhoods, and the city itself. Projects by cultural institutions should pursue the same goal. Their administration acknowledges that, in order to implement the projects, they the lack research and theoretical expertise. This is where HSE comes in.
Kirill Puzanov, Associate Professor at the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, spoke about ‘vernacular regions’ as an everyday means of spatially structuring the environment. His presentation included a lot of examples from the U.S., as well as results of a study in the Basmanny district in Moscow. The communities of local residents and students see Baumanskaya Ulitsa as an axis that divides the inhabited parts of this united, yet diversified, district.
Vernacular districts are an essential part of spatial identity. Anna Strelnikova, Associate Professor at the HSE School of Sociology, and Yana Bagina, a master’s student, shared the results of their survey of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ inhabitants of the capital’s residential areas which were initially built for industrial workers. The survey was carried out in 2017-2018 in the Tushino district. For residents of various parts of Tushino, subjective borders vary depending on their professional background. However, not all of them appreciate the official division of this former city into three municipal districts, and at the same time, tend to single out their part of the district. Lyudmila Romanova, master’s student at the Graduate School of Urbanism, also studied Tushino. She presented some specific prototypes of urban development solutions, which would unlock the potential of Tushino’s natural parks where recreation has until now been evolving organically.
Sofia Pershina, alumna of the Graduate School of Urbanism, demonstrated how creative industries impact the district image using the example of the Moscow Arts Quarter. The locals clearly divide the space into two areas with different images: the ‘old Moscow’ (‘residential’), and the area ‘near the railway station’ (‘noisy’). Residents admit that they are spatially isolated, but maintain that it’s not always necessary to integrate into the urban environment. Many of them mention that the Arts Quarter has its own unique atmosphere, lifestyle and pace.
Staff of the cultural institutions located in the area expressed their interest in the guide, which is currently being put together by the HSE student using the results of her research
Maria Skachkova, master’s student at the Graduate School of Urbanism, examined the Kitai Gorod district as an intertext and attempted to uncover urban texts which have until now remained unavailable to ordinary city residents. Staff of the cultural institutions located in the area expressed their interest in the guide, which is currently being put together by Maria using the results of her research.
Nadezhda Lebedeva, an HSE graduate who is currently working at the Nekrasov Library, presented her study of physical, mental and social spaces of the Skolkovo innovation centre. This space has no history of evolution and development, which means no foundation for local identity. Creating such foundations is an important task for Skolkovo authorities in order to create a real urban environment at their centre.
Maria Kveladze and Suraya Shilikova shared the results of their research in which they used content analysis of a landmark space – Moscow Izmailovo. An important conclusion was the lack of communication between the museum on Izmailovo Island, the modern complex ‘Izmailovo Kremlin’, and Izmailovo Park. Despite being very close to one another, they don’t interact and attract different groups of people. The student recommendations include establishing better communication, as well as creating a design code for the Kremlin, developing navigation on the island, and presenting the historical identity of the local area in the park.