Over the past 20 years the Soviet, collective city has been supplanted by the “capitalist” one, with different spatial requirements, a different logic and different values. However, the inertia of the former socialist city is still active, which leads to diverse systemic aberrations, producing mutant structures and rendering any holistic innovative planning slow and arduous.
For six months, the team of the “Another place: Towards the New Patterns of Cohabitation” studio was busy researching into complicated processes which are going on today in post-Soviet cities and in randomly urbanized suburban areas surrounding them.
Studio work resulted into seven student projects and a trip to South Africa, a place where strangely similar, though much more aggressive, processes have been taking place. We started with the analysis of several legal systems that, with various success, regulate life in the city and its suburbs today: governance, urban planning, health care, land ownership, transport, penitentiary system, environmental protection, and cultural heritage. In each case, we attempted to document the complex transformations that official structures undergo and the informal processes that compensate today for the weaknesses and inadequacies of the laws, regulations and norms issued by the state. It is at the intersection and the informal that we managed to find some new algorithms — the emerging patterns that, as we see it, having fully developed in the future, will exert a substantial influence on the life of Moscow Region.
Our conclusions were of necessity tentative, though we never abandoned our comprehensive approach and visionary valour — the prerequisites of today’s conceptual design for cities. Finding the correct balance between thorough analysis of this very complex (sub)urban reality and daring projects proved a formidable task for the students who have never undertaken a job of this kind before. In some cases, the emphasis was rather put on the research process with resultant project boiled down to a brief and sketchy plan of future actions. In others, students took the risk to formulate relatively clear-cut strategies for substantial change of private and public space.