MSc in Sustainable Architecture Studies
Since I graduated from The University of Sheffield, School of Architecture I have been working in the ABTB architectural bureaux in Moscow. Now after a year of a real practice, it’s a good time to summarise the role that the skills adopted at the Sheffield School of Architecture (SSoA) have played in my professional development.
First of all I should say a couple of words about my background. After graduating high school I studied for five years in the Moscow School of Architecture where we mostly spent time developing drawings of plans and sections and making 3D models of buildings. We rarely connected the design process with a wider social analysis and never seriously considered the environmental aspects. Nonetheless the last two domains were of my main interest as I esteemed architecture as a power, which is able to change peoples' life by bringing them together in the vivid and friendly urban environment and giving them a feeling of belonging.
After receiving my BArch degree I came to Sheffield to start a masters course in Sustainable Architectural Design. My first week at SSoA made me realise that everything was going to be completely different from anything I had ever known. Building of a smart and elegant sustainable concept was at the heart of every new assignment. Therefore a ‘thought’ was becoming a more powerful tool than any 3D software. I opened myself to completely new problems, such as a lack of identity in urban communities or the impact of architecture and periods of building construction and exploitation on the natural environment. Those together with exciting lectures from visiting architects, workshops, field trips and architectural competitions (with my classmates Chihiro Endo from Japan, Eric Chancellor from the US and Kartik Jadhaw from India) created a new understanding for me of my future profession. The world of architecture had suddenly appeared to be much more intriguing, diverse and challenging for a young architect, than I used to think before.
Two years before I went to Sheffield, a huge project of the reconstruction of the Moscow Ring Railway (MRR) had been started. Тhe MRR is a historical line built in 1903 for supplying factories and manufacturers around the city with raw materials. Nowadays these areas (15% of the historical part of the city) have become almost useless, despite the fact that the city has already expanded and absorbed them. Luckily the company where I had my internship had won the competition for this project, which included building 12 interchanges, 19 local train stations and the master-plan for surrounding territories. Therefore when I had to choose my dissertation topic in SSoA I chose "Integrating the Interchange into the City through Public Space".
Thanks to the tutors of SSoA, I started to work on my dissertational thesis from the very early days of my studies. In this term the lectures about the methodology of the dissertation writing and free evening courses of dissertation English were extremely helpful. The infrastructure in the University was at the highest level, making me enjoy living and studying. Moreover, I completely fell in love with the libraries; the Information Commons and Western Bank Library and used to spend most of my free time and weekends there.
At the end of quite a rainy summer my dissertation was finished. My initial goal was to approach the real problems of integrating the interchange into the city. I have visited and analysed the structure of three modern British interchanges (St. Pancras Station, Sheffield Station and Barnsley Interchange) in terms of their connection to the city. The result helped me to build a strategy for the MRR interchange system development.
When I came back to Moscow I started to work in the same company that was designing the MRR (ABTB architectural bureaux, abtb.ru). In the first week I made a presentation on the potential development of the MRR and the latest methods used in the interchange's inclusion into the social environment of a city. I emphasized the crucial meaning of the public space and the secondary importance of the private transport. I also suggested the methods of urban planning analysis that I had used in the Applied Design module in the SSoA. The methods were accepted and adopted for the interchanges of the MRR.
Similarly, at the same time the City Council of Moscow initiated a new programme of public transport development and our new social approach for the MRR came in useful. Our analysis and diagrams became a standard for many other projects too. Step by step we have started to change the attitude to the notion of the sustainable interchange in Moscow.
At this moment I'm working on the Izmaylovo interchange and the standard terminal of the MRR. Our team is also taking a part in the Moscow cycling structure development, collaborating with consultants from Vienna and London.
I’m very grateful to the SSoA for the year I studied there. That was a beautiful time and I particularly recommend this school to anyone who is especially interested in social and environmental aspects of architectural design.