Investigation of the local institutional settings, practices and results of monument preservation and urban planning to govern the sustainable development of late 19th and 20th centuries housing heritage in Yekaterinburg, Rostov-on-Don, Sysert,  Kamensk-Uralsky, Taganrog and Zernograd.


Lead: Prof. Carola Neugebauer (cultural heritage and planning | SKE, RWTH Aachen University) together with Dr. Elena Batunova and Albina Davletshina M.Sc. (both RWTH Aachen University) and in collaboration with the Russian partner of Prof. Natalia Vlasova (economic geography, Ural State University of Economics).

Focusing on residential neighborhoods from the late nineteenth century as well as the avant-garde and late modern eras, this sub-project examines and discusses the institutional settings, stakeholder arrangements, processes and results of gearing urban development towards protecting the existing socio-material fabric. Special attention is given to the practices and results of the sovereign heritage conservation and urban planning. The project conducts research in the cities of Yekaterinburg and Rostov-on-Don, and in the peripheral towns of Sysert and Kamensk-Uralsky (Urals) as well as Taganrog and Zernograd in southern Russia, using among others qualitative interviews, document analyses, and mappings in the case study cities.

The project pursues a set of research questions:

  • What instruments of heritage conservation and urban planning are used today to protect and develop historical urban districts? Which further local practices do matter?
  • Which values are attributed to this urban heritage and thus recorded, prioritized, or ignored in urban heritage conservation and planning, and how? Which conflicts do emerge?
  • What role do local socio-economic and institutional contexts as well as alliances play between politics, business and civil society?
  • How can greater appreciation of the existing urban fabric be encouraged in Russian urban development?

The project is structured in five work packages. Work package 1 is dedicated to the basic model development and research preparation. The aim is the conceptual and methodological honing of the research approach to gauge and explain how institutionalized practices of heritage conservation and urban planning affect neighbourhood development. By consulting relevant literature, a model is developed which relates the actors’ concepts of the local heritage values and their practices to effects on the neighbourhoods. The model considers the conditional context dimensions while special attention is given to the local (re)production of formal and informal institutions. The field research is prepared.


In work package 2, a model-based examination of the two case study cities Yekaterinburg and Rostov-on-Don is carried out. Document and media analyses as well as urban development mapping are used in order to research the urban development contexts as well as to describe the history and the socio-material and institutional-instrumental developments and conflicts of the sample neighbourhoods over the past three decades. Based on this, guided interviews are conducted with representatives of heritage conservation and urban planning, local government, civil society, and the private sector. The data analysis reconstructs the effects of institutionalized practices in socio-material neighbourhood developments. The work package 3 continues this work programme for the towns of Sysert and Kamensk-Uralsky (Sverdlovsk Oblast) as well as Taganrog and Zernograd (Rostov Oblast).


In work package 4 we plan to organize regional conferences and – if somehow doable – tow municipal surveys. The aim is to hone and regionally contextualize the findings from the case studies. To this end, a regional conference is held in each of the sample regions Sverdlovsk and Rostov, where the project findings will be discussed publicly and with experts from practice and research. In this vein, we also plan a standardized survey of the regional municipal administrations (heritage conservation and urban planning) as well as civil society initiatives. Follow-up surveys are possible.

Finally, the aim of work package 5 is to amalgamate the results of the work and to hone the project outcomes for the Research Network of CITIES BUILDING CULTURE. Continuous project tasks include the knowledge transfer in the form of publications and university teaching as well as the contribution in the activities of the Research Network. Particular mention in this regard should be made of the leading role in the handbook to be published by the Research Network on the basic principles of urban conservation.