Pechatniki’s Microsites

We are still posting the results of our Cooperative Urbanism workshops in Moscow. This is about the one in Pechatniki district, led by Israel's 72 Hour Urban Action. The workshop invited participants to locate 'microsites' and to offer "quick, temporary, but resonating solutions" for these spaces.


Microsites are small, disregarded or neglected spaces that lack commercial viability and are generally overlooked by authorities—very typical of spaces found within late-soviet architecture of micro-rayons, which have huge courtyards that were originally planned for people, but are never actually used by them. Since the late 90's, these spaces have been dominated and occupied by cars. The workshop combined urban interventions with video-based research and production. After exploring the district to analyze local needs, participants picked three sites to focus on. They then produced short videos to communicate their work.


Where's Rodi?



El Sotona



The Perestroikers



Our Thoughts

Working with such a typical yet difficult post-soviet legacy is challenging, but at the same time important. And it was great that this was taken up by the workshop. But the idea of quickly re-planning a space for 72 hours is quite unrealistic and sounds like a scoop.

Another issue we had was the demonstrated reliance on the idea that architecture plays the most important role in transforming a physical space, when sometimes it is more about ensuring freedom for interaction.

On the other hand, demonstrating quick changes like these 72 hour transformations that didn't require permission was useful (although in this case, we worked closely with a very progressive municipal deputy). Last June, a group of young urbanists from the group UrbanUrban proposed an idea for revitalizing a similar courtyard in Pechatniki; but because of bureaucracy, not a single proposed improvement was done.

We found that video was  a great way of documenting and conducting research (and interventions) in the area. The use of video and other media was actually a great tactic for temporarily recreating the space and as a way of advocating the idea of perceiving unused spaces as advantages. And from that perspective, the wind installation was the most successful intervention. The group worked with a super windy spot that was never used by locals; people tried to run through there to skip this spot as quickly as possible. But this new, attractive installation immediately changed this perception: and all of the people who passed by were excited and asked to make it permanent.