The mission of the Graduate School of Urban Studies and Planning is to promote contemporary planning practice in Russia and to further an understanding of the city as a spatial phenomenon of the intersection of peoples and cultures, and the reproduction of social and economic relations.
We pursue this mission through our Masters programmes that are based on critical thinking, in-depth knowledge of the methods of social, economic and spatial analysis, planning legislation and the design process for territorial development and city strategies.
At our school, we try to focus on urban spatial planning, urban studies, and the management of spatial development. In particular, we study the regulation of construction, the distribution of the main activities of inhabitants over a city’s territory, and the planning of city transport infrastructure. After all, most transport problems are not due to a large quantity of transport (there isn’t all that much in Moscow) but to the fact that the places where people live and work are organised in such a way that it is difficult to commute between them. This is what leads to severe traffic congestion in capital cities. There is a similar problem in the construction sector: due to poor cooperation between public organisations, new buildings rise up spontaneously and haphazardly, often causing more harm than good.
When developing complex city projects today, the government disdainfully omits the spatial planning stage. It hastily approves projects on its own and immediately hands them over to architects, thinking that the construction of a building is the main thing: it doesn’t even want to consider how a building would fit into the city structure. This can lead to a chain reaction that throws the city into a profound crisis, although it all begins with a banal error by a public official.
Erecting a building is not the same as bringing it to life. Our profession demonstrates this thesis. Our goal is to set up ties between different organisations, make people aware of certain norms and regulations and, in the process, create a new system of governance in which the city is viewed as a living organism.
As a profession, urban spatial planning integrates several disciplines into a single whole. Roughly speaking, the core of our profession – managing the city space – is surrounded by elements taken from economic, environmental, architectural, investment, transport, information, and cultural processes. Our graduates should be multidisciplinary specialists that understand how cities function at all levels – from passers-by to skyscrapers.