In the 1920s and 1930s the avant-garde architecture was spread in Russia and Ukraine: many buildings were built in Moscow and Kiev, becoming outstanding icons of the rational ideas developed by Constructivist Architecture.
Nevertheless, in the late 1970s through the 1980s, the landmarks of the twentieth century were deteriorating or even demolished. Since the 1990s, Russian and Ukrainian state funding for the conservation of national heritage has been cut back, and the operational monitoring of its condition has been weakened, meanwhile, the gap between the requirements of investors and property owners on one side and the scientific principles of restoration on the other has widened. Under this set of problems, the project partners have sought to provide through the project RKM_Save Urban Heritage a contribution on the topic of preservation, rehabilitation and valorisation of the urban and cultural heritage of Avant-garde architecture of the 20s and 30s in Kiev and Moscow. RKM_Save Urban Heritage resulted from the experience gained in the two-year project Moskonstruct, coordinated by the University La Sapienza in Rome together with the Moscow Architectural Institute (MARKHI) to protect constructivist architectural heritage in Moscow. This first stage was essential to develop a network of contacts and collaborations of fundamental importance to increase more focused and effective activities through the following project RKM.
During the two-years project, the City of Rome shared local and international best practices as well as his experience in managing a heritage that goes from ancient Rome to the latest innovations of the twentieth century, developing a strategy to promote public-private partnerships in processes of urban heritage conservation and valorisation, exploiting urban heritage to stimulate tourism and economic growth within the framework of a shared scenario for the future of the city’s “cultural industry”. The main project partners were: Municipality of Kyiv (Cultural Heritage Safeguarding Department), Municipality of Moscow (Committee for Cultural Heritage), Sapienza University of Rome (DATA Department) and Shukhov Tower Foundation. The associate partners were DO.CO.MO.MO. International and the Moscow State Academy of Municipal Economy and Construction (MGAKHiS).
The structure of the project was focused on developing a series of activities to involve not only technical experts but also local governments and civil society, stakeholders and the younger generations, to spread an awareness campaign that could bear both short and long term results. This series of initiatives has been coordinated by moorroom cultural association, who actively participated in the project’s drafting and in the management of its various stages. The set of actions provided by moorroom through RKM, the overlapping between teaching activities and research, promotion of the area and sharing of best practices, has been structured in a series of activities as:
– RKM_Lectures, presented to the local public free of charge, are designed to increase local awareness of the importance of cultural heritage from the 1920s and 30s.
– RKM_Guided Tours, offered to the local public in the city of Kiev and Moscow free of charge. Each thematic tour was structured in a different neighbourhood, offering attendees an insight into the development of avant-garde and constructivist heritage, and the development of the city.
– RKM_Workshops, dealing with tools and methods for ensuring the sustainable development of the territory, public private partnerships in requalification and valorisation projects, territorial marketing and tourism as a means of urban promotion, with a particular focus on historical resources.
– RKM_Database, linked to sub-charts used to catalogue various types of material, including drawings, maps, photographs, text, bibliographic references and audio and video clips;
– RKM_Signage Project, defining an integrated system of tourist itineraries designed to highlight some of the most important examples of Avant-garde and Constructivist architecture, using panels that allow local residents to discover their surroundings and visitors to create their own itineraries.
– RKM international petition, planned in order to develop the campaign of awareness-raising at the international level.
Through the coordination of these activities, it was possible to create a set of initiatives which actively involved civil society, as evidenced by the massive participation in conferences and guided tours (an estimated 1,500 citizens and students in the RKM_Lectures; more than 1000 students and citizens in the RKM_Guided Tours organised in Kiev and Moscow), thus creating a broader network whose knowledge and competences were constantly updated by “external” contribution. This idea of ”evolving structure”, related to the project and to the database containing all the information on the avant-garde architectural heritage in Kiev and Moscow, was applied to the RKM_Application as well. RKM_Application is an interactive system for visiting avant-garde heritage with audio-visual sequences providing information about buildings, architects and other related historical facts, accompanied by historical images, original drafts and plants, details and interiors. Based on the RKM_Itineraries, each thematic tour allows users to explore avant-garde heritage and to build their own tours, searching the RKM_Database by name, author or category.
The application therefore became a kind of “open” container, constantly evolving and aiming to highlight every significant thing in the immediate vicinity of the architectures included in each tour, both in terms of logistics (e.g. public transports) and culture (galleries, museums). This “modular” structure, modified according to different needs in order of highlighting the different characteristics of the urban fabric, has attracted the attention of local administrators and Moscow tourism department, which expressed their intention to extend and use the application in the next future. A work in progress still developing, constantly subject to change and enrichment, the RKM application coordinated by moorroom is an instrument potentially applicable to any urban reality that could be interested in enhancing the cultural and artistic features of its territory. Info: http://www.saveurbanheritage.eu Contact: Rosanna Palermo: rosanna @moorrom.org; Massimiliano Busti: firstname.lastname@example.org