Healthy cities will become the central theme in the work of the Section "Creative Environment and Urbanistics"

The COVID-19 pandemic and the international lockdown that followed gave us a fresh understanding of how national health hazards become a global threat to the economy, affect the overall welfare of citizens and the well-being of the society, and how the setup of the city affects the health of the nation.

City residents, city governments and urban studies scholars have been tackling various problems: from everyday situations (how to put to sleep a baby who is used to sleeping during a walk in the afternoon) to global events (how to redistribute traffic, keep jobs or make the public transport system safe). This was not the first time when the experts thought: could this perhaps be the end of cities as we know them? On November 12-14 the Section “Creative Environment and Urbanistics” and its speakers at the IX Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum will discuss the tactical and strategic challenges of 2020 and the responses that architects, city builders and experts in public health from Spain, Italy, the US, the Netherlands and Russia can offer.

The topic of the section is dictated annually by the current global agenda, and, of course, this year the main issue running through its entire program will be the topic of creating healthy cities that would be sustainable during the period of force majeure circumstances and in the long term. What is a “healthy city,” and can a place where millions of people live and communicate closely together be at all healthy? How can we handle the threats, and what steps must be taken to revive cities after the pandemic? Will friendly cities retain their principles and infrastructure development perspectives along with public places and spaces in the post-COVID era? These are just some of the questions that Russian and international experts will respond to during the fifth anniversary section “Creative Environment and Ubranistics.”

“The theme of our anniversary section is more important than ever, because it is the topic of interest for the entire international community. As always, we have invited outstanding international speakers and included interdisciplinary issues in the program. We will talk about Russian realities and topics that concern most people (high-rise construction, population density, standards, etc.), includng issues of gathering international experience, eco-friendly construction and research. The program of the section also includes the discussion, which began last year and turned out to be very relevant for Saint Petersburg: it discussed implementation of major competitive projects, and the presentation of the study entitled “Eurasian Cities”, which discusses the history of urban development and contemporary problems of cities. I am happy to see the section on architecture and urbanistics become a regular feature of the Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum, and I am glad that we have an opportunity today to discuss this globally significant event at the venue,” said Sergey Kuznetsov, chief architect of Moscow and curator of the section “Creative Environment and Urbanistics.”

The section will open with a panel discussion “Urban Environment in the Post-Pandemic Era: New Challenges for Architects and Urbanists.” Its participants will discuss various strategies for city revival and their impact on cities, new norms and their influence on urban architecture, the correlation between population density and the rate of disease spread, and how personal and public spaces are being transformed.

At the roundtable discussion entitled “Active cities: An environment that stimulates a healthy lifestyle,” the participants will talk about long-term projects for creating “cities for life” in the broadest sense of the word. The discussion will focus on the strategy of Urban Health: increasing the lifespan and the quality of life of city residents through the creation of the urban environment.

Roundtable discussion: “Are trees all that is there in it? What green cities and “green architecture” are really capable of” will become a platform for discussing the ways in which urban landscapes can meet modern challenges, including the issues of climate change; how the resilience of the urban framework can be enhanced at the era of increased risks of viral pandemics; and what green technologies, materials and building solutions can make cities safer and cleaner.

The program of the section also includes a round table discussion entitled “Sustainable Tourism 360°: Are Russian Cities Ready to Become Sustainable Tourist Destinations for Travelers and Citizens?” organized with the support of the Moscow City Department of Tourism, and the presentation of the third part of the large-scale study “Eurasian cities” aimed at identifying the characteristic and unique features of city development in Russia and other FSU countries.

The program of the section will end with the public talk entitled “Projects of Significance: Who and How Will Open a Door to the Future.” This year there were two major competitions completed in Saint Petersburg that received considerable public attention: the project of the Tuchkov Buyan Park and the business center and public space at Okhtinsky Cape. The event open to Public Flow participants will focus on the debate on whether the authors of these projects managed to find a vision of tomorrow for Saint Petersburg.

Among the speakers invited to participate in this year's section are chief architects of Moscow and Saint Petersburg Sergey Kuznetsov and Vladimir Grigoriev, American urbanist and sociologist Jeff Speck, co-founder of the Council on RuGBC construction in Russia Guy Eames, landscape architect of the municipality of Amsterdam Eva Radionova, adviser on green infrastructure to the head of the Krasnodar Municipal Administration, member of the Expert Council on Creation of Comfortable Environment under the Ministry of Construction of the Russian Federation Alexander Vodyanik, head of the Stefano Boeri Architetti Studio Stefano Boeri, architect and co-founder of the Institute of Modern architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) Vicente Guallart and others.