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First Minsk Architectural Forum

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It was a lot of fun and useful for me particularly to take part as a tutor in the Minsk Architectural Forum held by the Belarussian Students’ Association of Architects from January, 30 till February, 5th in several premises, including the Memorial Museum of Azgur, office of the Belarussian Union of Designers and Belarusian Union of Architects.

Forum included a dense series of workshops and lectures united by the common theme: “Minsk Center Perspectives”. 6 groups of students guided by the a bit older and experienced tutors worked out quite fresh ideas of making the Minsk City and it’s center more lively. Some of them concentrated on the creative environment of the city core, other – on revitalization of abandoned central industrial zones and urban furniture.

A group of Mikhail Stepura and me, on the contrary focused on the decentralization aspects of the Minsk City development. In our opinion Minsk nowadays and it’s center particularly is a product of exaggerated attention to the city’s ‘Façade’ and neglecting it’s most inhabited ‘Bedrooms’ – neighborhoods. The spirit of the city isn’t proceeded exclusively from it’s center, and the majority of citizens spend their lives in such city’s ‘bedrooms’, postponing their socializing needs till weekends and holidays in the city center.

We took one of the new urbanism prominent concept: “the Urban Village”. The idea – to shape pedestrian and bike connections within the neighborhood, to amplify and enrich local centers with public places and functions and character signs, all that will help to build a community and create a spirit of a neighborhood by providing it’s habitants with places to socialize everyday. Within the concept we tried to glance to the future of the some typical Minsk’ neighborhoods: existing Uruch’e, Shabany and currently in development – Kamennaya Gorka and High-Tech Park.

The workshop output was a bit more theoretical and philosophic. People need help in including gradually more and more space in their circle of concern: from the apartments to a house and a courtyard to entire neighborhood and a key for that – cultivating inclusiveness and social activities on all levels.

As for the Forum as a whole – it is definitely a significant example of the student’s great need and determination in socializing, self-actualization and active participation in solving serious urban problems, which is frankly far from being common to all the students in Belarus. My deep respect to organizers.

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