Project Group 8
See the video whre Nadezda Snigireva (partner of Project Group 8) comments on community participation in design and planning. Nadezda describes the new practice of urban development – participatory design and planning – and comments on own architectural projects for the improvement of urban areas have designated and adopted the principles of interaction between residents, government officials, the business community, architects and designers. The significance of this approach as a step-up the level of trust between the government and society, thereby developing responsible citizens to conserve public property as well as promoting interest in the improvement of the cities by its residents.
Participation design in Russia: From an activism to a strategic approach.
One of the key issues related to the implementation of the participation design practice in Russia is how to make it a systematic approach for city planning, development and management, and change the paradigm from a directive to an interactive approach and collaborative process of decision-making.The quality of environment is the issue on the agenda in Russia nowadays. Often it’s the citizen’s incomprehension of decision-making processes that results in poor quality of the environment. People don’t take responsibility as the concept of private property was forgotten during the soviet times. In a post-industrial city the situation changes, and new mechanisms, such as participatory design need to occur.Trying to change the process, Project Group 8 started from activism in making public spaces and now went to global strategies development in order to establish the regulatory mechanisms. We also published the first book on democratic design issues (Henry Sanoff’s first translation into Russian) and initiated the establishment of a Russian Participation Design Network.
Russian Participation Design Network: The beginning of a movement.
The concept of the participatory design is becoming more and more popular in Russia nowadays. Different practitioners and theoreticians point the importance of including different stakeholders in decision-making process while changing the environment design. Various activists practice it as well as professionals, which also have different backgrounds in architecture, social sciences, economics and marketing, art and culture. Among practitioners also are municipalities and institutions in cities’ administrations. Developers gradually start to see the potential of inclusion. Various universities all around Russia argue about methods and terminology. There are already several cases to start analyzing methods being used, but yet no organization, network or a movement which would unite all of them or provide an opportunity to share the practices and even talk to each other.
In September 2015 a significant step was done towards forming such a network in Russia – Social Innovations symposium in Vologda gathered practitioners together to share the experiences and methods being used. Henry Sanoff and Konstantin Kiyanenko were supervising the process. Now the network is still forming and have a potential to become a substantial movement.
Democratic Design in Russia: Heads or Tails. Case studies of Vologda.
As a developing and relatively new country Russia is nowadays trying to adopt various foreign concepts showed success and been practiced all around the world for decades. One of these is the concept of democratic design. Since the Russian mentality seems to get everything top-down instead of taking the initiative and associating themselves with the decisions made, local city administrations become the force trying to implement the community participation concept into their operations. Current situation in Vologda is so that city administration declares the need of changing the design processes through participation, but citizens don’t want to participate and local businesses do not see the need of it, even though developers slowly realize ineffectiveness of current approaches which are not taking people into account resulting in protests and unsold properties. As for people, their participation is initiated by third sides which are city administration or local activists. There’s no effective methodology yet developed, and democratic design looks like «Heads and Tails» game — no one knows what outcomes each project will have, how people will react, could the effective results be used for different projects. The process itself is not formulated yet even though there’s a huge ongoing discussion. The reason might be that the wrong techniques are being used or that different parties involvement should be reconsidered. In our work we try to change the traditional design situation acting as a third party in a role of «architecture consultant» putting different stakeholders (citizens, local administration, businesses, other parties) together in an open process of making common decisions together. We are formulating our own approaches and participation mechanisms, taking into account cultural and historical features and mentality.