Editorial material

  • Elena Grigoryeva

    … If till blood the cloth has been worn, I will patch with the golden patches. That the good Lord will notice it more.

    Vladimir Vysotsky, The Cupolas

    © Ilya Shambat. Translation, (n.d.)

    Small towns with deep-rooted history, cozy and diverse, each with its own appearance – this image, like a lasting impression of childhood, makes you return again and again. Like a drop of water can mirror the sky, small towns reflect the nature and fate of the big country, millions of families, vast territories…

    Our focus on small towns and historic settlements was definitely stimulated by the 5-year federal competition “Comfortable Urban Environment”.  Two annual...

  • Elena Grigoryeva

    The Festival “Zodchestvo of Eastern Siberia” was founded at the turn of the millennium. The first Festival was held in 2001 at Irkutsk Sibexpocenter and caused a massive outcry among the architectural community in Siberia and throughout the country. Later the Festival “Zodchestvo of Eastern Siberia” became one of the most important annual architectural events in Russia. The first participants of the Festival were the architects from Eastern Siberia (such cities as Irkutsk, Angarsk, Bratsk, Chita and Krasnoyarsk, republics of Buryatia, Tyva, Khakassia, as well as Ust-Ordynsky and Aginsky national districts of Buryatia). Since 2007 architects from Western Siberia (Omsk and Barnaul) have...

  • The discussion touches upon the issues related to the change in the status of small towns and historic settlements. The results of the Federal Architectural Competition are discussed. Economic, town-planning and social solutions are proposed to increase the attractiveness of small towns in Eastern Siberia. The discussion explores the possibilities of realization of the winning projects and the necessity of architectural supervision during the realization of town-planning projects.

  • Elena Grigoryeva

    …Whether God’s retribution was spilt onto us…

    Vladimir Vysotsky, Hunting from Helicopters

    © Akbar Muhammad. Translation, 2016


    Siberia and the Far East are the main source of Russian wealth. It is small towns that bear the brunt of natural disasters, fires and floods. In Tulun, the dam failed under the pressure of the small river Iya; the flood returned a month later, and hundreds of households were submerged in water again. The Uda River submerged Nizhneudinsk. While Ust-Ilimsk was suffocated in smoke, the disaster was spreading globally. The soot clouds produced by Siberian fires have already reached California. Both fire and water are recompense...

  • Konstantin Lidin, Elena Grigoryeva

    ... In the blue sky, pierced with belltowers,

    Copper bell, copper bell,

    Will be joyful or will be sore.

    Russian cupolas are dressed in pure gold

    That the good Lord would notice them more.

    Vladimir Vysotsky, The Cupolas

    © Ilya Shambat. Translation, (n.d.)

     Small historic towns in the European part of Russia form a precious “genetic fund” of the national architecture and town planning. The disasters of our century teach us to treat the experience of previous generations more tolerantly. Our predecessors lived for hundreds and thousands of years, while keeping the balance between City and Nature, between the regularity of the...

  • Konstantin Lidin

    At first glance it would seem that small towns in Europe live in the reality that has nothing to do with the Russian reality. The Western Drift brings polarization along the east-west line and concentrates population in the central regions of the continent. The cities of Eastern and Southern Europe become deserted and desperately vie for outflowing inhabitants. Together with people, life flows out of the towns of the Baltic, Tanscaucasia and the Black Sea region, leaving behind nothing but sad nostalgia. On the contrary, Western Europe is overcrowded with newcomers. This wave of immigrants and tourists is going to “swallow” the traditional style of life. But if we look closer, the...

News items

  • В новостях представлена Бакинская декларация, принятая на 43 сессии Комитета всемирного наследия ЮНЕСКО, объявлены результаты архитектурного конкурса «Проект Loi 130», а также результаты архитектурного конкурса на проект Образовательно-инновационного центра в Триполи (Ливан).

Short articles


  • The article presents a new approach to the issue of agglomerations in the contemporary world and gives specific national characteristics of agglomerations. The process of town formation in Russia is analyzed. The article points out the procedural nature of agglomeration and different qualities of agglomeration and conurbation. It speaks about the correlation between the Soviet approach to the city and the village and the current processes in today’s Russia.

  • Preservation of tourist attractiveness of a small historic town in Russia concerns its cultural, social and economic aspects. The article outlines the most important challenges faced by small historic towns in Russia: preservation of local population, search for possibilities to create workplaces and prevent the outflow of employees to big cities; preservation and development of traditional “homestead” style of life; revitalization of organic production in suburban areas; development of agricultural and gastronomy tourism and recreation, as well as local initiatives that can promote and create internationally recognized handicraft industry.

  • The number of Russian architects in relation to the country’s total population is far below the western countries and close to China and India. Most Russian cities lack their own architectural schools or communities, which makes it currently important to develop different types of the remote work with unique cultural contexts of small historic towns. The development of these types is hindered by the existing system of architectural education focused on analytical “left-brain” methods of thinking. The synthetic “right-brain” methods were actively developed in the pedagogical policies of the most creative periods in Russian architecture. It is proposed to develop and to use the methods...

  • Improvement in the urban environment depends on how effectively the environmental benefits of landscapes are used in the system of urban planning and development. The natural framework of the region can support the ecological balance within the environment-society system, while the natural framework of the city offers better hygienic qualities to the urban environment. To find solutions for the improvement of urban environment, a town planner needs to comprehend the boundaries of the natural framework and to know how to formulate town planning requirements in regard to the urban fabric. The case study of the Baikal region and the city of Irkutsk is used to explain the approach to...

  • Basing on his study of archival and literature sources, field observations and photofixation, the author explores architecture of the so-called small and historic settlements in Zabaikalye, the frontier earth fortification in Aksha, and Sretensk, which celebrated its 330th anniversary in 2019. The author studies the planning, compositional and stylistic peculiarities of architecture of the given settlements and analyses the most architecturally interesting structures and specific decorations of wooden houses.

  • Basing on his field observations, photofixation and study of archival and literature sources, the author explores the process of formation of historic settlements in the Chita region (now Zabaikalsky Krai). Nerchinsk stands out among other historic towns of Zabaikalye thanks to its history and plenty of historical and architectural monuments, being of interest for historico-architectural science. The author studies the planning and compositional peculiarities of the most significant structures and complexes of the given historical period.

  • “A Golden Thread”, a concept for development and improvement of Nerchinsk historical center, was worked out for participation in the All-Russian competition of the best projects for a comfortable urban environment “Small Towns and Historic Settlements”. The concept is a part of the project for complex reconstruction of the center “Golden Capital of Dauria”, as well as the project for strategic development of the city “Historical Nerchinsk”. The tourist route will connect central architectural landmarks and event venues. The landmarks included in the route were mostly chosen as growing points for the city’s economy and involvement of residents in development of spaces.

  • In the 17th century Onega fortress cities of Kargopol, Ust-Mosha and Turchasovo represented a single system of fortified points, connected historically, economically and geographically. Analysis of town planning and its relationship to the landscape allows us to conclude that these cities were built according to a unified model and had similar planning characteristics. The space planning of the Onega cities shows organic connection between the regular and the natural-landscape aspects, which is a distinguishing feature of ancient Russian town planning. Also the construction of the walls of the first two stages of Kargopol fortress and the walls of Ust-Mosha and Turchasovo fortresses is...

  • Kostroma is almost nine centuries old. It has had an eventful history. There are a lot of architectural monuments in the city, but what was lost in the 20th century is irreparable, despite the reconstruction of several architectural masterpieces. The city still maintains its identity. It is of current importance to create “historico-cultural islands”, which ensure preservation of the structural integrity of streets, squares and the historical part of the city in general.

  • One of the solutions to the problem of migration from small towns and historical settlements is to organize public spaces required by different addressees. Public spaces are interpreted as a typological unit of the architectural environment, where natural, historical and social characteristics of certain settlements have a synthetic relationship. The article studies waterfronts, streets, squares and parks of small towns designed for a certain citizen or guest of the city. The article analyses foreign and national design experience, including the projects worked out for the competition “Small Towns and Historic Settlements”.

  • In the history of Moscow classicism there were many unsuccessful attempts to create regular squares. In the modern historical center of Moscow there are a lot of squares, which are actually intersections or carfaxes. The article analyzes the architectural policies from Catherine II to Alexander I. The study of the discovered archival documents makes it possible to compare them with the experience of Western European urban planning of the age of Enlightenment.

  • The article describes different international examples of how new public buildings were inserted into a historic urban environment. It highlights social and professional challenges in the context of high complexity of modern building technologies used for theatres and museums. The article is focused on design and construction practices in big Russian cities.

  • The article is devoted to the wooden architecture of Ryazan, which is an integral part of the historical and cultural heritage not only of the region, but also of Russia as a whole. The study is based on visual inspection, literary sources, author and historical photographs. As a result of the survey, stylistic features were identified, an analysis of the facade design with decorative elements was carried out, and the typology of the structures was studied. Among the distinctive features of Ryazan wooden architecture, it is necessary to note the abundance of various architectural forms and methods of decorative design of facades. The objects of wooden architecture are in varying...

  • The processes of population concentration in large and super-large urbanized agglomerations continue throughout the world. The resulting megacities and megalopolises absorb local urban cultures of the settlements. As a result, the diversity of lifestyles and local cultures is reduced – a process similar to the reduction of species diversity during the degradation of biocenoses. Counteraction to degradation processes includes the formulation of the identity of small towns. It is shown that the verbal identity formulation is less effective than the visual one. The material of the city of Sofia (Bulgaria) shows the results of an experiment on the visual identification of the city’s...

  • Architectural and environmental peculiarities of the city of Gyumri (former Alexandropol, Leninakan) lie in the vernacular – a thick middle layer of historical “architecture without architects” built by local skilled bricklayers from the local material, black tuff. In the beginning of the article the author presents his new theoretical concepts of the living vernacular city and vernacular ensemble. Then the studies speak about peculiarities of the emergence of vernacular architecture at different stages of urban formation and its present-day existence. High grand arch-shaped portal gates – the archetype of the city environment of the Alexandropol period – perform important symbolic...

  • Fatma Taniş, Frank van der Hoeven

    Architecture and urban design competitions played an essential role in the formation of the Turkish architecture culture. It contributed in particular to modern architecture in Turkey (1923-1950s). Turkish modern architecture in the modern era emerged especially from a transnational exchange with the German speaking world. The city of Izmir in the early Republican Era 1923-1950s is an exceptional case to investigate impact of the architecture competitions in the further development of the East Mediterranean port city. Exchanges between local and foreign actors within the architecture competitions in a specific geographical context helped reflecting on changing global movements and...

  • Small settlements as a category are doing fine in the Netherlands, contrary to overall sentiment. Small settlements do face specific issues, though, issues that one would expect to see in larger cities, possibly the result of the hybrid urban nature of the Netherlands: many small cities in a vast urban region. This article showcases four challenges that small Dutch settlements face, each in a particular way intersecting with built heritage or building vacancy: induced seismicity, the production of synthetic drugs, spilt over mass tourism and the vulnerability of 1970s and 1980s community buildings as young heritage. By addressing these cases, the article seeks to explore the breadth...


  • The cycle “The Contest Between Harmony and Invention” (it. “Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione”) by an outstanding Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741) consists of 12 concertos for violin, strings and bass continuo.Verbal commenting on music, as well as on architecture, is a thankless job. Music commentators, however, explain this name as an eternal contradiction between traditions and innovations. The slogan of Zodchestvo in Siberia XIX has the same meaning.

  • The renovation project for the Young Spectators’ Theatre in Irkutsk comprises restoration of the existing historical facades, replanning of the existing indoor premises and changes in their functional use, as well as construction of new premises.

  • The peculiarities and the opportunities of the development of a small town are presented. The idea of preservation of greenery is used in the park improvement concept. The design process consists of several stages and includes a complex analysis of the site and the town, working with inhabitants and investors, as well as formulation of the concept basing on the revealed identity, the citizens’ needs and the capacity of the territory.

  • The article is devoted to peculiarities of the environment of small towns in the south of Italy. It points out spatial, scale and symbolic features of such settlements as communes. Such towns provide a special archetypical micromodel of a full-featured town.