The project conducts interdisciplinary basic research; it brings together knowledge from different regions and develops the theoretical foundations of heritage-led urban development. The project runs from 2021 to 2024 and will be realised by interdisciplinary German-Russian teams.
As far as regional studies on the post-Soviet space and the example of Russia are concerned, deficits are emerging that impede substantial contributions to preservationist urban development as an area of interdisciplinary research and practice. Contemporary research into urban architectural heritage and its diverse attributions of value as well as studies of current valorization approaches (preservationist and sustainable further development) are rare. Regional research into architectural heritage focuses primarily on individual buildings and memorials (monuments erected for commemorative purposes) from the socialist era (Bekus 2017, Dmitrieva 2009) and often neglects historical urban structures such as housing estates (Engel 2019). There is also a lack of both research in planning science and urban studies addressing the highly polarized development of towns and cities in the post-Soviet space (Batunova 2018). Interdisciplinary approaches to preservationist urban development are extremely rare at universities, research institutions and professional associations, even though recent developments in the individual disciplines (including architecture and urban research) offer many points of contact for dialogue, cooperation and joint learning.
In Russia and other post-Soviet countries, there is a high practical urgency to develop a sustainable approach to dealing with existing urban structures. The historical building stock is threatened by deformation and demolition. This is especially true for existing urban structures, such as historical residential districts. Today, they shape urban space and everyday life, yet they also reflect the social ruptures and contradictions of the post-Soviet space. At least three housing eras in the twentieth century are historically noteworthy whose material and sociocultural fabric is endangered: the tsarist, avantgarde and late modern eras.
Combining two major areas of research – preservationist urban development and post-Soviet regional studies – harbours multiple synergy for German research. In addition to enriching regional studies with a new interdisciplinary research topic, the principle and approaches of preservationist urban development could be developed and internationalized.
The Research Network’s overarching objective is to develop new approaches in international and interdisciplinary dialogue to dealing sustainably with architectural heritage in towns and cities. It builds on a wealth of knowledge from individual disciplines and practical experience in Germany and Russia, thus making regional studies of the post-Soviet space conceptually and methodologically fruitful.