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JMP - An Engagement with Russian Architectural Heritage

**Please see Downloads section to access the complete 'Moscow - Lost & Found' document**

We believe a fundamental obligation of contemporary designers working in cities is to understand and signify context.  In all cities there are always three contexts: a past, a present and a future.  They are not discrete phenomena.  The disciplined and creative study of these temporal layers and constructed facts is a fundamental activity that should structure and inform the design pro­cess.  Without a fully engaged, critical understanding of the physical, social and cultural history of a site, its users, and its wider context, there can be no meaningful contribution to the growth and development of city form.

The perilous predicament of many of Moscow's great historic buildings and spaces demands more than singular episodes of preservation, however thoughtful.  The situation opens a much wider debate about relationships between old and new and lost ar­chitecture in general, and about how the status and significance of heritage can be discussed and developed both rationally and creatively - even if these two modes do not always agree.  The physical and psychic future of the City lies in the actual and imag­ined fabrics of the past and the present, most obviously through the adaptive re-use and development of existing buildings, public spaces and infrastructure from all periods.
These interventions cannot simply be an architecturally academic critical activity.  William Morris stated:  "All history is constant change."  But the role of architects and urban designers in processes of redevelopment in Moscow - as in other great or rapidly growing cities - must encourage, above all, a much more discerning, imaginative, and consultative approach to the "constant change" that has been with us since the 19th century.  If it isn't, constant passivity, on many levels, will prevail.
Yuri Grigoryan + Aidan Potter
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