Editorial material

  • The term ‘conversion’ (from Latin ‘conversio’ – change, transformation) is used in different fields: economics, industry, marketing, finance, psychology and even linguistics. If, for example, in defense industry this word is now not as topical as in the period of reduction in defense in the 1990s, in urbanism, on the contrary, conversion (reconsideration of urban quarters and even districts) is a point of interest among town planners and architects. It concerns first of all the city districts that were abandoned as a result of industrial decay in the same 1990s. Let’s try not to forget that conversion is not only loss of old meanings, but also acquisition of new ones.

  • The discussion touches upon conversion processes in the dynamics of city life. The participants consider the problems of conversion of Irkutsk’s industrial enterprises, their random or natural character. They give reasons for their opinions on the changes in the city toponymics. They also study the cases of annexation of waterfront territories at the Angara River and Lake Baikal.

  • How everything is changing!
    What once was bird
    Now lies a page of words;
    Thought was once a simple bloom;
    on bull’s slow feet
    A march did poems beat.
    And what was me anew, perhaps,
    has flourished,
    And leaves the plant world nourished.
    N. Zabolotsky, Metamorphoses
    (Translated by Leo Shtutin)
    The meaning of the Latin word ’conversion’ is close to the Greek ‘metamorphosis’ but does not coincide with it. If
    metamorphosis is a change in the form, then conversion should be understood as a change in the meaning or idea. That is why conversion processes always have a tint of nostalgia for the lost ideas. Joseph Brodsky wrote:
    So few Greeks live in...

  • In the section “European-style conversion” there are two almost detective stories about transformation of prison castles into a new urban quarter (Germany) and a garden (Great Britain). The renovated German quarter was seamlessly integrated into the structure of the core of the imperial city thanks to the placing of education institutions in the historical building together with strengthening the trading function. The English garden became the embodiment of harmony between the old brick walls and the enfilade of green interiors. A long article by our permanent author from France, Christian Horn, reviews regeneration of industrial facilities and areas as an alternative to building on...

  • The materials selected for the “Conversion of the Profession” section are tinged with worry: historians and theorists of architecture speculate on the change in the sense and the content of the notion of a professional architect.
    Unlike theorists, Russian practitioners are enthusiastic and optimistic about the novelties in their work: participative design was not taught in Russian universities. If not coauthors, citizens now are at least full participants of drafting the assignment. An expert from Krasnoyarsk and young urbanists from Irkutsk share their new experience.
    Eduard Tovmasyan, veteran of national town planning, speaks about the conversion of town planning, present-day...

News items

Short articles

  • The article features the methodology of the International Baikal Winter University of Urban Planning Design, the topics and the teams that participated in the 19th session. The article describes the site, the technical assignment and the work of the teams. It underlines the significance of abundant territories as hidden  resources for urban development.

  • The article features the processes of renovation of the former industrial facilities on the territory of Irkutsk. It provides the examples of conversion of industrial zones in different European cities and in Moscow, as well as the examples of transformation of former industrial facilities of Irkutsk into art centers. The article presents the concept of the master plan for transformation of the former Central Heating and Power Plant-2 and the Tea-Packing Factory into a public cultural space.

  • The article features the phenomenon of conversion of the Keizer's warehouse in Hamburg harbor and the appearance of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall. The article reviews the architecture of the Philharmonic Hall, peculiarities of its inclusion in the cultural life of Hamburg and the diversity of its cultural functions envisaged by architects.

  • The article reviews public discussion of the projects for public spaces in four districts of Irkutsk. The key aspects of the project “Formation of a comfortable urban realm” are presented. The article also features the peculiarities of the public discussion of the projects among different groups of citizens and in different districts of Irkutsk.


  • The article features the basic creative principles and the history of the Children’s Architecture and Design Center “Piramida”. It reviews educational techniques, events and projects of the Center. The article points out the significance of the principle of children’s continuous art education.

  • The term ‘conversion’ is used in different fields of science and practice. It commonly means rethinking, renewing of the meaning of something. The emotional content is regarded as a basic meaning of architectural works. The article shows the connection between emotions and characteristics of informational flows in the society. The parameters of the movement of information in the society (and, as a consequence, the dominant groups of emotions) naturally change over time. The changes are cyclic. Consequently, the dominant type of emotions (style, fashion) cyclically defines the currently dominant meaning of architecture.

  • The article tells the story of construction of the fortress and the city of Alexanropol, and of reconstruction of the Black Fort. It features the uniqueness of the conditions of existence and reconstruction with the elements of restoration of the Russian military base, the civil city and the traditions of private-municipal partnership. The notion of vernacular city is used. It is pointed out that the new multifunctional complex, which appeared on the site of the military facilities, is of importance for formation of a cultural center on an interregional-scale.

  • The process of conversion of Chattanooga, Tennessee is viewed in the context of restructuring of economies of the developed countries. The traditional economy has caused the growth of social tension. The city management could not formulate the approaches to solving the urgent urban problems. The author analyses new approaches and successful improvement of Chattanooga’s urban realm. The strategies and practical measures for city conversion are presented.

  • The article touches upon semiological aspects of the city visual representation, its historical and current cultural and semantic determinants. Through the example of Moscow, it studies the phenomenon of reproduction of the medieval image of an invisible city in the system of town-planning, social and political-symbolic practices.

  • The article analyses reconstruction of industrial facilities and modernization of industrial sites. It presents the aims, goals, methods, techniques and directions of adaptation of the post-industrial territories to the present-day city. The article studies the case of renovation of the facilities of the former distillery in Ulan-Ude and their revitalization and transformation into the Center of Modern Art.

  • The article presents a renovation project for the territory of the former silver smelting works (match factory) in Barnaul. The history of the works is given together with the proposed concept of the museum and exhibition complex as an integral part of the tourist-recreational cluster.

  • The article covers the history of formation of industrial areas in the urban fabric, from foundation of Irkutsk to the present time. It reviews the key factors that defined allocation of enterprises in certain areas, as well as the influence of the production function on the city development and transformation.

  • The theme of the session of Baikal Winter University of Town Planning Design was conversion of Zaton, a district in the center of Irkutsk, which has changed its meanings several times during its long history.
    Fatefully cut off from the mainland by Transsib at the turn of the 20th century, the peninsular is located where the Irkut meets the Angara. Zaton has ceased to develop and now does not look like a central part of the city, regardless its geographical location. Developers prefer greenfields, vacant areas, but not Zaton with its warehouses, sawmills and dockyards. At the same time it has neither networks nor roads. It is obvious that as soon as infrastructure appears the...

  • (Re)development of Brownfields is nowadays a challenging task for growing cities since they represent valuable resources for their future development – such as in Irkutsk. Therefore the development of peninsula Zaton is a responsible issue not only concerning the sustainable development of the territory itself, but as well of the whole city. The article explains the tasks and problems of the 19th session of Baikal Winter University and reviews the results.

  • The article presents projects worked out in different years by architectural students under the supervision of the architects Lyubov Nikolaevna Makogon and Roman Alexandrovich Selivanov, assistant professors of the Department of Architectural Design of Institute of Architecture, Construction and Design of Irkutsk National Research Technical University. The supervisors speak about their approach to development of the Zaton territory, its problems, solutions of architectural and town-planning problems, transport accessibility, and the challenges facing the students.

  • This is a story of a new urban quarter that appeared on the site of the former prison in the center of the city. The quarter is a part of the structure of the historical core of the Empire city. The new city quarter became more significant due to the educational institutions located in the historical building, as well as  strengthening of the trading function of the city center.

  • The article presents the history and evolution of the gardens of Sissinghurst Castle. It features the owners of the castle and the styles of some fragments of the garden.

  • The article is based on the interview with Frank Gehry conducted by Georgi Stanishev in 1998. The master of deconstructivism reveals the foundations of his creative method, in which his distinctive personality combines with gradual search for an architectural decision in a complex many-sided dialogue. It results in a conversion of senses not only of the local architectural space, but also of the whole city.

  • Brownfield regeneration is one of today's major challenges for city development in the developed countries. The decline of the industrial areas in Europe started after 1950 and the first organized regeneration processes from 1970 onwards. This gives us today the chance to learn from a large number of case studies on different territories. Cities continue to grow and expend all over the world, partially ignoring the potentials of Brownfield regeneration inside the existing urban fabric. Building on Greenfield is still easier and cheaper as long term environmental costs are not considered and Brownfield development needs higher technical, economic and social expertise. But it is...

  • The author questions the generally accepted definition of architecture as a profession, because the genuine subject of architecture has not been defined yet. The article underlines the systemless selection of subjects studied at architectural schools and an indefinite status of the architect in the democratic society. Either the crisis faced by architecture in the third millennium can finish the transformation of architecture into building design or architecture will acquire a professional status.

  • An architect is an anthropological issue, because we don’t know what architecture is and whether a human being is able to create it. Inferiority of existence of architecture as a profession always leads architects, on the one hand, to delusion of grandeur and infallibility, and, on the other hand, to despair and self-conceit. This part of the matter is never covered in criticism, polemics or memoirs. A new, not yet born branch of architectural studies, the professional anthropology of the architect, can reveal the hidden sides of the profession and help architects in their self-determination.

  • In the diversity of meanings of the word ‘conversion’ one can notice new horizons of transformation of the activity, including architectural and design activity. To do this, it is necessary to clear the word of additional meanings and to comprehend its depth. While sharing Konstantin Lidin’s idea of the expected transformation of the architectural profession towards preservation of social-economic and cultural-environmental values, the author offers to discuss the boundaries and possibilities of this transformation.

  • The article analyses the experience of creating an image of the Yenisei embankment in Divnogorsk. The article points out the necessity of a dialogue between architects and various groups of inhabitants differentiated by age, mentality and fields of activity. It proposes a strategy for discussion grounds as an effective tool of designing a city space.

  • The article presents the history of design institutions in the Soviet Union and Russia, their significance and areas of activity. It analyses the current condition of town planning and urban development, as well as principles of management of design institutions. The article cites the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly of Russia.

  • The article observes the principle of using natural forms and shows the history of occurrence and the modern condition of the ideas and techniques based on using regularities of building natural forms in architecture. The article analyses the basic concepts of architectural bionics and observes the use of the forms of trees and eggs in construction and architecture in the foreign and national practice.