Support and Promotion of Modern Architecture - New Research from Moskomarkhitektura

21 December 2021

Moskomarkhitektura continues to study the issues of support and promotion of modern architecture, which began in 2018 as part of the work «Support for architectural activities: international experience and opportunities for its application in Russian practice».

The 2021 study deals with the activities of the state, public institutions, as well as the efforts of the architectural environment itself in promoting an understanding of the importance of the profession and its product. The ecosystem of the brand of modern architecture is considered by the authors within the topics of state architectural policy, channels for promoting modern architecture, as well as participatory design. At the same time, the processes of improving the quality of the urban environment, the level of competence of specialists and public interest in these factors are considered interdependent.

The 170-page document of six chapters allows the reader to learn about the variety of the relevant tools, as well as the specifics of their use in different parts of the world and examples of good practices. The focus on highlighting specific cases, which are complemented by comments from Russian and international experts, makes the work interesting both for those who already work in this segment and for architects who want to get support or start promoting their own brand.

Just under two-thirds of the study describes foreign practice. The narration begins with a story about a document that does not yet exist in Russia — «the country’s architectural policy.» It contains the principles, goals and forms of activity that serve as a guide for authorities in the development of the urban environment. The experience of the Netherlands, one of the first EU countries who wrote and adopted architectural policy (1991), Denmark, France and Great Britain is considered. It becomes clear how the existence of such a document turns out to be the basis for the functioning of institutions of support and promotion, including non-state ones, such as all kinds of funds, agencies, contests and ratings. That is, the architectural policy generates a request for their activities. It also lays the foundation for work with the younger generation of specialists, as well as with students.

For example, in Denmark and Norway, a system called a wild card strategy is used to involve beginner architects in closed competitions, when beginners who have not had time to become well-known architectural bureaus are invited to participate in closed competitions and working groups.

Through research, you can learn about existing grant systems, scholarships and other types of project and research subsidies. Special attention is paid to the topic of ideological and financial support for the export of the country’s architectural product abroad. Attention is drawn to the participation in the implementation of architectural policy not only of the ministries responsible for territorial development and construction, but, for example, the Ministry of Culture.

That is, architecture is interpreted as a complex phenomenon at the intersection of art, business and the implementation of government strategies. A large overview of the channels for representing architecture and informing about the work of specialists is presented: awards, exhibitions, festivals, traditional mass media and new media. The authors analyze the most notable resources and formats of sites as the main places of dialogue and representation of participants in the architectural market, and all this taking into account the peculiarities of the topic, in which any demonstration of a completed object, other than an excursion, is its interpretation, since it itself is chained to the construction site.

A special section of the study is dedicated to the possibilities of the PR institute in this area. Strategies for brand formation in this market are listed, with an assessment of their effectiveness and identification of pitfalls. The study highlights the problem of the attitude of architects themselves to advertising, as an occupation that does not correspond to the artistic nature of the profession. This sets architecture apart from other creative industries. Citing various examples, the authors call for a revision of traditional ways of communication.

Three chapters on the Russian situation demonstrate its otherness. On the one hand, the authors list many tools for support and promotion similar to foreign ones, on the other, they are noticeably less diverse and fragmented, and there is no generalizing core that brings the topic to the global agenda at the state level.

«The significance of the profession in society at the present time is not really high» — the authors write, summing up the expert comments in the section on the Law on Architectural Activity. However, mentioning the start dates of many foreign institutions helps to understand how important time and cumulative effect play here. In the Netherlands for example, a surge in the development of interest in architecture was preceded by an economic crisis, due to which specialists began to spend more time on public, rather than commercial activities.

In this sense, the description of Russian practices allows one to see the existing picture in its entirety, including the empty niches that have to be filled. And the program for the development of creative clusters mentioned in the study, supported by the President of the Russian Federation, gives rise to the development of activities in the direction of supporting and promoting modern architecture in Russia.

In the research there are also chapters analyzing the attitude of citizens to new objects of architecture and construction as one of the factors that must be taken into account when building an information policy, as well as socio-cultural trends affecting the promotion of architecture in the media space. The work ends with recommendations for the development of specifically Moscow tools for support and promotion.

Among them are the creation of a platform for interuniversity interaction, and the annual publication of the best projects, and the founding of a single web platform for participatory practices. In total there are 19 items, the implementation of which will result in the formation of a brand of modern Moscow architecture.

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