«Greater Moscow» in MONU magazine

An essay of Strelka graduate Anton Ivanov has been published in the latest issue of the urbanism magazine MONU. The author discusses the neighbourly relations of the centre with its periphery, the new urbanism of Moscow, and the difficulties involved in developing larger territories. My essay is dedicated to Moscow and its immediate surroundings – the densely populated extension of the megalopolis. I believe this territory to be particularly closely connected to the city and that is why the term «Greater Moscow» is relevant in this context.

The conventional concepts of Soviet urban planning no longer suit «Greater Moscow». At the same time, one is equally unable to describe this phenomenon with definitions imported from Western urbanism. Today’s territorial development follows a trajectory of mutually exclusive opposites. Paradox is becoming an accepted part of life.

The adjacency of centre and periphery, the relationship between planned urbanism and luxury communities, the interaction between investment appetite and ideological starvation, and the juxtaposition of monotony with creativity – these describe the existing situation far more eloquently than the official rhetoric of the Greater Moscow Competition or the Skolkovo Project.

I understand the new Moscow urbanism as something more akin to a mass TV production, something like a sitcom, rather than the product of one-off triumphant performances. «Greater Moscow» has its regular heroes, but the plot of each episode is unpredictably diverse. This is the reason why I decided to structure the essay around certain «episodes»: «Borders», «Transit», «Account», «Turbulence», «Cannibalism», «Localism» and «Ring». Thus, we have a full series of «Greater Moscow». In this way, all the phenomena I have gathered together help to reveal some new and surprising sides of «greater urbanism» in Russia. Nowadays, many cities, particularly the world megalopolises, are facing the same problems. Larger territories are developing around the «historical», so called «big» cities that came into being in the twentieth century. They do not lend themselves to description within formal terminology, but are best classified as something existing in a dynamic reality, something boundless and locked in a constant process of transformation.

The latest issue of Rotterdam-based MONU magazine is dedicated to the theme of «Greater Urbanism». The magazine has been in existence since 2004. Bernd Upmeyer and Beatriz Ramo are its editors, along with the architecture, research and design bureau BOARD.