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SUMMARY


05 2012

URBAN ORGANISM

CITY IN THE CONTEXT OF COUNTRY

Lilia Karachurina. Urbanization, Russian Style: Trends of the Last 20 Years

The article examines the state of what could be called the settlement system of Russia in the context of the history of Russian urbanization. Analysis shows that, in the situation of steady depopulation, the possibilities for a fresh spiral of growth of cities, which took place in Soviet times, have been exhausted. However, considering Russia's late urbanization, the "rural" character of many of its towns and the level of their saturation with infrastructure, low by the standards of developed countries, the potential for their qualitative development is still quite large. The country's depopulation and spatial contraction have not only laid bare the general insufficiency of towns for the vast expanse of Russia, but they have also sharply brought up the question of which is worse—the lack of a layer of great center cities capable of generating new standards of urban life and giving an impetus to the whole system or the gradual vanishing of small towns which form the fabric of the system of urban settlements.

Grigory Revzin. Urbanists, Unquiet Hearts

It may be stated that the transformation of Moscow, a once profoundly Soviet city, into a capitalist city has occurred. The author, however, points to the fact that capitalism in the city is "somehow not quite genuine." Building companies are seemingly private, yet the lion's share in them is actually owned by the city. The land on which buildings stand does not belong to their owners. The most profitable contracts are awarded to companies owned by members of the families of the city's officials. It is this "not-quite-capitalism" which is the main cause of the exceedingly grave problems faced by the city.

Alexander Vysokovsky. Management of the Spatial Development of Cities

The article deals with the mysterious "physics" of urban space and methods of managing spatial development making use of this "physics." Urban space is a value created as a result of various activities. Even though living in a city are various people having different attitudes towards it and towards themselves and other people, all of them together make up an urban community which has a right to urban space and to its use and development. This right, however, is alienated in favor of power elites and administration bodies which, unfortunately, are exercising it, as a rule, inefficiently and not for the citizens' good. The situation that has developed is largely determined by the absence in Russia of the profession of urbanist and the opposition offered by top-level managers and architects both to its establishment and to the achievement of a practical balance of interests of various groups.

Vasily Baburov. Smart Cities: Success Stories

Modern cities, which are in a state of global competition, pursue two fundamental goals: firstly, to achieve a maximally high quality of the living environment and, secondly, to ensure the stability of their development over as much time as possible. Berlin, Barcelona and Curitiba, demonstrating examples of a meaningful and effective urban development policy are of the greatest interest from this point of view.

Maxim Perov. Doctrine Offering Deliverance

Today urban development problems in Russia have become aggravated to the extreme. The author sees the way out of the situation, firstly, in restoring the role of the state as the main commissioner of basic infrastructural and urban development projects. Throughout the last few years, it has stayed away from this; as a result, Russian cities have either stopped developing or their development has acquired an ugly form. And, secondly, in deviating from purely market principles, which are affirmed in the legislation, for regulating the spatial development of cities, since the market is far from always capable of taking account of socio-cultural factors which often turn out to be more important to the urban community than material factors. The present-day legal acts, however, are conflicting with these points and have to be changed. To this end, a framework document containing general principles of the government's urban development policy, which the author proposes to name a National Urban Development Doctrine, should be developed in the first place.

Nadezhda  Zamyatina, Alexei Yashunsky. Interregional Educational Centers

Official data of the Federal State Statistics Service of Russia on migration "for the purpose of education" show that there are cities which are more attractive than others to students from other cities. In 2008-2010, college applicants (constituting the majority of those migrating "for the purpose of education") moved in steady flows to 11 regions of the country. Characteristically, the list of leading educational centers does not coincide with the list of major cities of the country. Thus, qualitative stratification is underway among the country's major cities. On the one hand, a number of cities specializing in postindustrial (educational) functions and, in effect, acting as the intellectual capitals of their macro-regions come to the fore. On the other hand, the educational significance of quite a few major cities is not great, and they are "downgraded" to the role of industrial centers. In analyzing student migration flows on a micro-level, use was made of data of the Internet-based social network VKontakte (for Tomsk and Novosibirsk Universities). It transpired that both in Tomsk and in Novosibirsk students from other cities account for a substantial share—about 80 percent—of those enrolled in physics-related departments. At humanitarian departments, the share of students from other cities is considerably smaller, ranging from 25 to 40 percent.

Markus Appenzeller, Vyacheslav Glazychev. Big City Means Big Problems: An Interview

The interview between the Dutch architect Markus Appenzeller and Professor Vyacheslav Glazychev, which took place at the cafe in the lounge of the Holiday Inn Sokolniki Hotel on March 2, 2012, focused on the problems of urban development of Moscow. The experts touched upon such questions as rental housing, road traffic and trade, and the prospects for the development of megalopolises. They also talked about whether old buildings should be declared untouchable, whether it is practicable to build an alternative metro system and whether one can ride a bicycle in Moscow.

Ilya Lezhava. Linear Cities

Analyzing the crisis of modern cities, the author of the article arrives at the conclusion that "radial" cities and agglomerations are giving up their positions. Natural life is being destroyed and road traffic is becoming more difficult. In the scientist's opinion, the future belongs to linear settlement systems. Since quite a number of extensive transport corridors (mainly railroad corridors) have been established in Russia, it is probably along them that people might settle. Not only motor roads but also modern convenient high-speed railroads should be built the way this is being done in France, Germany and China. These railroads should go along preselected routes, reorienting the spreading agglomerations towards themselves.

Elena Trubina. Major Events: Cities between the Challenges of Globalization and the Interests of the Population

The noted urban sociologist analyzes the impact of mega-events such as international competitions and exhibitions on the life of urban communities and the reasons for which cities so actively compete for the right to hold mega-events. The author comes to the conclusion that, contrary to the point of view forced by the authorities, mega-events entail substantial financial losses and debts, which place a heavy burden on the population. The elites, however, nearly always stand to gain in such a situation both financially and politically, which compels them to force such events on cities.

BOOKSHELF

Vladimir Paperny. Pedestrians Must Be Loved

There are two good reasons for drawing the attention of Russian readers to the book The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, published half a century ago: firstly, its first Russian translation has only just seen the light of day and, secondly, it is probably of even greater topical interest to Russia today than it was to the America of the mid-20th century. The city that we have inherited from our Soviet past is a direct opposite of everything for which Jacobs strove and to which the world has come thanks to her: mixed development projects, small city blocks, buildings of various periods, and a high population density. Jacobs also strove to return cities to pedestrians, whereas what we have is a directly opposite process: Moscow and other major Russian cities are rapidly turning into cities for automobiles.

CITIES OF RUSSIA

Vyacheslav Glazychev. Moscow Stratagem

The author, who is directly involved in working out a strategy for the development of Moscow, reflects on the intellectual gap between the realistic possibilities for Moscow to rank among the top ten megalopolises of the world and the habits of the city authorities, who are used to dividing the overall task among separate departments in a way making it impossible to restore the whole thing.

Alexander Lozhkin. In Searches for a Comfortable City

The author analyzes the experience of the city of Perm in preparing urban development documentation after 2007 and believes that it opens up prospects for overcoming the Soviet heritage in urban development. The urban development model for the city of Perm provides for dividing the planning into a long-term strategic level, a medium-term level, and a short-term level. The main strategic document, a master plan, is a vision of the future transformed city and a set of strategies through which that future can be achieved. What is important is that the master plan is not a project that must be implemented as it is but, rather, a forecast of desirable turn of events that will be adjusted in the course of time. So far, however, it cannot be stated that the strategic master plan has actually become an agreement among various city communities in view of the lack of mechanisms of practical self-government and instruments for interaction among the city's residents and urban planners, architects, developers and experts.

Elena    Grigorieva,    Mark Meyerovich. Architectural Gene Pool of Irkutsk

The authors tell about the implementation of a project for regeneration of historic city block No. 130. The project opposes the policy, which has become widespread in the last few years, of relocating antique wooden structures to reservations referred to as "cultural and historical reserve areas." The reconstruction has been performed with preservation of the main parameters of the historic wooden built-up environment and its spatial organization. The shopping and leisure spaces essential for attracting investments have been moved underground.

Stefan Troebst. Forbidden City

The Greek city of Salonika, which at one time, just as many cities in Eastern Europe, boasted wide ethnic diversity, has in fact become mono-ethnic. The city has lost many of its ethnic communities as a consequence of wars and deportations. In addition, the mass influx into the city of Greek peasants, who abandoned their villages during the civil war and later on, when the process of urbanization got underway, has also played its part.

BOOKSHELF

Natalia Kolyagina. On the Road towards the Public Automobile (Moshe Safdie. The City after the Automobile: An Architect's Vision. Westview Press, 1998. (1st ed.: Basic Books, 1997))

This article is a review of the book The City after the Automobile: An Architect's Vision by Moshe Safdie. It analyzes the style of Safdie's works, which is distinguished by a striving to inscribe a building into the environment and maximally closely to tie it in with nature (hence the use of glass ceilings and natural ventilation). Safdie contemplates the everyday life needs of the contemporary city resident and the way to supply them through architectural techniques. The culminating point of the book lies in its futurological part in which the author proposes the idea of public automobiles that would make it possible to reduce the load not only on traffic-clogged city thoroughfares but also on vast areas occupied by parked vehicles.

HOUSING

Alexander Krivov. Russia's Cities, Urban Development and Settlement System

Russia is experiencing a catastrophic lack of housing. The problem is further aggravated by the fact that a substantial share of Soviet-period mass-produced buildings are subject to demolition. However, in order for new houses to be built, land plots with full engineering and legal preparation are needed, and they are probably the main item lacking today. Allocation of land plots is a powerful instrument through which the state can set the priorities of economic, social and spatial development. The author advocates the development as soon as possible of a national settlement system complying with these priorities and lists the principles on which it should be built. There is no doubt that with the appearance of such a document builders, developers and financiers will acquire clear reference points, which will spur up their activity.

Elena Shomina. Pipes and Square Meters: To Own or to Rent?

In this article, the author analyzes the proportion of rental and ownership in the housing sphere. Twenty years ago, the efforts of the government were aimed at transforming all the Russians into owners of housing property. Today, however, in Russia there is a trend towards distributing the main share of housing through market mechanisms, the way this is done in most countries of the world. The article touches upon such issues as social housing, private rental, rent and taxes, and also housing culture.

Tatiana Nefedova. City Dwellers and Dachas

Dachas (summer homes) have a long history in Russia. Not only do they have recreational importance but they remain a major source of supplying townspeople with agricultural produce. In the last few decades, the mobility of city dwellers in Russia has increased thanks to the car buying boom. The phenomenon of remote summer homes in quiet, secluded spots instead of those located in the vicinity of cities or in addition to them is becoming ever more common among the residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Summer homes are more widespread in Russia than in other countries. More than three-fourths of city dwellers have a second residence in suburban or remote areas. The current Russian economic model of "agricultural contraction," in particular, in the non-black earth region, is accompanied by an expansion of the postindustrial type of rural development owing to summer suburbanization.

The article describes the potential of suburbanization in Russia and its specific type of dachas, as well as the interaction of local population, local authorities and dacha owners. Some examples are provided of summer homes located in the vicinity of cities and at a medium and large distance (as far as 600 km from Moscow).

NATIONALITIES PROBLEMS

Olga Vendina. Migrants in Russian Cities

The growth in the ethno-cultural diversity and the related change in the ethnic composition of the population are increasingly named among the most acute problems of urban development. The article, based on an analysis of the situation in Moscow and some other megalopolises, raises the question of the need for meaningful revision and correct use of the basic concepts describing the migration situation and determining the ethno-cultural policy such as migration, ethnic minorities and diasporas.

Rustem Vakhitov. Moscow for the Muscovites

In the article, the author tries to prove that the slogan "Moscow for the Muscovites," which is sometimes heard in the capital of Russia, is social status-based rather than nationalist. Basing himself on studies by Simon Kordonsky, he analyzes the situation and arrives at the conclusion that the Muscovites are not just residents of the city of Moscow but, in fact, a social estate group endowed with numerous rights and privileges, including the right to permanent legal residence in Moscow, the right to obtain housing in the city, the right to medical services, the right to kindergartens and schools for their children, etc. The Muscovites as a social estate group, whose political interests were promoted by Yuri Luzhkov and his team starting in 1991, have succeeded in achieving what the Russian nobility achieved in the reign of Catherine the Great: preservation, and even expansion, of all the hereditary privileges bestowed upon them by the state and liberation from obligatory service to the state.

Blair Ruble. ­

Through the example of the U Street block in Washington, D.C., the noted American urbanist shows that urban "contact zones" in which people disunited by racial, ethnic, confessional and class conflicts are living side by side, serve as generators of new adaptive strategies. The inexhaustible source of viability and flexibility of these communities lies in the need for survival in the conditions of "delib­erate social complexity." It is precisely this experi­ence that enables such communities effectively to adapt to the aftermaths of natural calamities and social conflicts.

IN TERMS OF HISTORY

Karl Schlegel. Return of European Cities

The cities of Central and Eastern Europe are reviving after the disaster they suffered in the 20th century during an attempt to rid them of everything which did not fit in with the preset model of a uniform and hermetic world. Nationalism proceeded from the idea of a city as an ethnically homogeneous formation and communism, from that of a socially homogeneous formation. The result in both cases was degradation of the urban environment. Today it may be stated that this environment has been largely restored. Closed cities have become open high-speed areas. The construction boom has led to a transformation of urban space. Prosperous and disadvantaged city areas are now more clearly delineated and public space no longer serves solely for representing the authorities but in a much greater degree conforms to the interests of businesses and private individuals.

Alexander Rubtsov. Spontaneous Architecture before and after Postmodernism

Postmodernism substitutes the introduction of artificial disorder in the environment for natural historical buildups and natural city formation. Such disorder, however, always appears non-genuine, for it is impossible to plan a fanciful urban space such as that of, for example, Moscow's Zamoskvorechye district. In the author's opinion, the overcoming of postmodernism in architecture will make it possible to restore the spontaneity of the urban environment, without which the city seems to be dead.

Boris Mironov. Town Out of Village: Four Hundred Years of Russian Urbanization

Over a period of four hundred years, from the 17th to the 20th century, the Russian town went through dramatic changes. Until the 18th century, it merged with the countryside to form a single social, economic and cultural space. The differences between the economic, social and domestic life of the urban and rural population were insignificant, and their culture and mentality were, in principle, common. Triggered by the Petrine reforms, modernization of Russian society got underway. It affected all the aspects of life, particularly so urban material culture, and gave an impetus to the natural process of differentiation between town and country, which reached its height by the middle of the 19th century. Thanks to the Great Reforms of the 1860s, prerequisites were formed for their gradual unification into a single economic and cultural space, which this time was based on the integration of economically specialized urban and rural dwellers mutually needing each other rather than on similarity the way it had been before the 18th century. In Soviet times, this process continued but was not completed. For a long time, the town unmercifully exploited the countryside, squeezing it dry, and finally depleted it. Today's countryside is hardly capable of coming back to life without help from city dwellers, yet the progress of the whole society largely depends on its revival.

CONTINUING THE TALK

Leonid Blyakher. «Regional Barons» and the Transformation of the Administrative Market

The article examines the structure and mechanism of action of the administrative markets that developed in Russia in the 1990s. It is shown that the administrative market acted as an effective and relatively "inexpensive" method of regulating social and economic relations in post-Soviet society. The regional authorities, personified in the figure of the governor, are regarded as the leading "power operator" of the market (entity producing "order" and creating the rules of the game). In the 2000s, the desire to restructure the administrative market led to a reduction in its efficiency, a steep rise in the cost of the services for producing order and, eventually, to its destruction. So far, however, no substitute has been found for it.

Alexander Rubtsov. Nonstandard: The Shining and Ditching of One Institutional Reform

The technical regulation system (TR) inherited by contemporary Russia from the USSR is capable of killing the Russian economy in the conditions of global competition. The author analyzes the preparation for and implementation of a reform involving the introduction of unified and exhaustive technical regulations, which have the force of federal law, and shows how the reform was slowed down and then eviscerated as a result of bureaucratic intrigues.

INVITATION TO A TALK

Georgy Lyubarsky. Gutenberg's New Garb

A scrutiny of entries concerning school education made in the blogs, a contemporary global meeting place for exchanging views where people share their problems, makes it possible to see how these problems appear to people. What attracts their attention, what they fail to see, what legends they tell to one another, what they hope for, and what particularly disturbs them. One can see what is happening to their reading and writing style, how their idea of classical literature is changing, and what they are saying about contemporary school students. A new illiteracy and new reading habits are emerging and the world of culture is changing— at least, in people's minds.

THE LAND OF OZ

Yuri Gavrilov. Hearth and Home

The author describes in detail the everyday life of postwar Moscow, looking at it through the eyes of a kid who spent his childhood in the side streets between Sretenka and Trubnaya Streets.