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STR E L K A I N STI T U T E 201 2

FI LI P P O BA ZZONI ba zzoni@ st re lka stu d e m


The morphology of Moscow prevents the typical or expected process of land division and privatization. Many areas are thus abandoned both by the public sector, usually because it does not have enough resources to intervene, and by the private sector, because it is not profitable for developers or companies to invest in those areas. As a result, there is enormous potential for a Third Sector in Moscow: somewhere between public and private, this sector could provide a way for civic society to utilize the unclaimed land as a catalyst for a massive and widespread regeneration of Moscows public realm. A possible model for this could build on certain characteristics of the open source movement in order to generate a spontaneous and local set of proposals for the use of land in certain districts of Moscow. This research will first outline the background and evidenciary analysis of the lands which could be claimed by the Third Sector of Moscow. Focusing on few aspects of the state of Moscow (from the highly centralized planning practices to the rise of activism) and on general issues (such as network theories and open source movements) will suggest how the reprogramming could be conducted. A design proposal for a single square kilometer identified will show a possible scenario for the unclaimed lands, in order to understand and quantify the potential behind those areas. The unclaimed lands could become the ideal locations to implement a center within the districts that can serve as the manifestation of the regeneration of public space, while at the same time facilitating local design practices. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow grew according to an extensive top-down planning practice, possible due to the presence of an authoritarian system and to the availability of a vast amount of publicly-owned land. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent opening to capitalism and privatization introduced separation and fragmentation, while a vast amount of responsibilities started to be transferred to a system that could never be equally as totalizing as the previous one. Many believe that in the new scenario the most beneficial segments of the former system were claimed by the private sector, while those elements seen as a burden were left behind in the hands of a public sector (which was increasingly in decline) The growth of the Megacity usually coincides with a public sector in retreat; an escalation of responsibilities and tasks claimed by companies or developers who rarely face a public sector that is able to provide a credible kind of

counterweight: instead of a system of checks and balances, ever growing companies and organizations kindly offer to satiate the needs of ever-growing cities, and are able to do so with fewer and fewer barriers. In Moscow the unbalance between the two sectors is brought to the extreme, since the public sector is still de facto responsible for all residual areas and goods that are not profitable from a business point of view. While it is generally understood that the transition from a socialist to a market economy was completed at the beginning of this century in Russia, it is clear that in the land and the housing sectors this process is still ongoing. The municipality thus control a vast amount of small/medium size plots of lands in a state of abandonment, right in those residential areas that suffer from the lack of public spaces and services. The lack of investments (both public and private) is the result of the lack of ideas for these areas. The residents are not fully able to visualize or suggest a possible usage for these areas, and their relationship with the municipal institutions manifests through a series of complaints rather than the exchange of constructive ideas. This results in a challenged system which suffers further from a lack of imagination. In this context, designers, architects, planners and activists should intervene, and create new perspectives on these areas, in order to give to the residents and to the municipality new projects capable of starting a constructive dialogue. In the case of a vast availability of ideas and projects, residents could be involved in their improvement and modification, in an iterative process with designers and amongst themselves. Once there exists a critical mass of feasible projects agreed upon with the resident population, the municipality will be more inclined to take care and invest in areas where it Percentage of public effectively has ownership and responsibility. and private land. >

25% 75%

50% 50%


75% 25%



There is drastically more publicly-owned land in Moscow than in other postSoviet or European cities. The city is nowadays split in two halves: 50% of the land has been privatized, leased, or is simply closed to the public, while the other 50% is fully accessible to the public and publicly owned1. This percentage shows a dimension of the public realm right in between two opposite models: the Soviet one, where 75% of the area of Moscow was public and fully accessible, and the western European one, where private ownership has historically more solid roots and cities have an average of 25% public land (including squares, streets, sidewalks, parks)2. Moscow also has 25% of its land devoted to infrastructures, squares and parks, which reflects another 25% of publicly-owned land has a totally different function compared to the composition of public land in many Western cities These areas are generally the green areas within residential districts, the yards, and all those parts that in microrayons are certain open and permeable to the public but do not fully have the characteristics of a proper public space. The aggregate size of these areas has to be stressed and highlighted. It is an area bigger than the municipality of Milan, or than the Garda lake, or three times the amount of tulip-growing agricultural land in the Netherlands. We can argue that there is a lot of hidden potential in those areas, a potential that for several reasons has not yet been realized. One of the reasons is that most of the time, the land plots have highly fragmented geometries, and therefore are practically often difficult to plan. However, the issue of these lands is also related to a wider context of the transferal of responsibilities to the public sphere: once fully in the hands of the central government, these lands are now controlled by decentralized entities like local authorities and ultimately to private figures. We can make a parallel between these lands and two other elements that have been privatized (partially and with much effort) in the last two decades: the residences and the common areas within residential buildings. The housing field was the first testing ground for privatization in Russia. At the end of the 1980s, the government realized that a large percentage of the housing stock was going to need massive repairs in the coming years, and there were insufficient resources for the projected expense. Dwellings switched from being a central human right in the Soviet system, to a state burden that could not be afforded anymore. For this reason, the discussion on privatization options began in 19873. In March 1988, a resolution from the Council of Ministers granted the right of private ownership to members of housing cooperatives, while at the end of the same year another resolution of the

Council allowed tenants to purchase their units by paying the houses value4. These first attempts brought very unsuccessful results, and between the 1990 and the 1991 a new discussion began at the Federal level. Four main options were discussed: (a) free transfer to resident, while floor space in excess of fixed quotas would be sold at low prices, (b) buying out, in which residents must pay the apartments value with minimal discount, (c) socially just transfer, in which an amount of free space was fixed and the square meters in excess sold at high or prohibitive prices and (d) compensatory justice, in which each family would receive a voucher for a certain number of square meters to be freely traded on the market5. In July 1991 the housing privatization law passed, outlining the details of the compensatory justice model6. But, some local municipalities (and especially Moscow) had the right to choose alternative options. Moscow chose the most generous option in order to maximize the number of privatized dwellings, opting for privatization free-of-charge for each tenant: after paying a fee of 320 rubles, each tenant could receive the title to their flat for free. The process began very slowly in the first couple of years, with only a few requests. However, Moscow privatization at the end turned out to be very efficient, partially due to the advertising campaign in the press, as well as the speedy implementation procedures (the average processing time for an application was two weeks)7. In spite of this, today, even though free privatization is still possible, 25% of the total housing stock has not yet been privatized8. The rights of tenants are so strong and well-established in Russia, that a quarter of the residents prefer not to own a house in order


> Land division in Moscow. Source: Shoshin, 2011.

50% 25% 25%



90 km2 120 km2 90 km2 89 km2 86 km2 110 km2 green zones in Microrayons yards non-yard residential territories streets (including sidewalks, roadsides, transportation hubs) territories with public function (exhibitions, campuses, market places, etc.) green public space (parks, gardens, plazas, squares, boulevards, etc.)


not to have all the burdens and responsibilities related to property taxes and maintenance. There was a paradox created by the privatization of the 1990s: there was the possibility to privatize a single residence, but there was no way to privatize the land under the building. According to the Land Code, the land of the condominium could be owned by the homeowners, but there were no specifications about the implementation of this mechanism. Moreover, there was a considerable share of units still belonging to the municipality. The common areas maintenance has to be done by the municipality, and there are limited funds for that. Homeowners, on the other side, were not willing to pay for something that did not belong to them, so they ended up living in degraded buildings (maybe with a fully renewed interior!). A brief report of the United Nations, written in 2004 (more than a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union) states: There is no proper institutional structure for the flat owners and there is a lack of information sources for them in particular in multi-unit buildings. In most cases, they do not have the opportunities and capacity to take decisions on their property...Although individual flats are privatized, the common areas, structures and infrastructure of buildings are not formally privatized. Home ownership is understood to cover only the dwelling... nobody clearly owns the partly privatized apartment blocks and nobody is clearly responsible for them9. So the formal responsibility of the building was municipal, and the owners did not have incentives to take the municipalitys place. With the passing of the 2005 Housing Code, however, the households became de facto collective owners of the common areas. Three different methods of maintenance by owners were suggested by the law: (1) direct management, without any form of association, (2) hiring a manager to administer the housing complex or (3) creating a homeowners association called ( )10. Finally, this Code not only implied, but actively encouraged the direct involvement of households in their immediate surroundings. With this brief overview, we see how the transferal of a public good was difficult even if given for free (in the case of dwellings) and became effective only through a specific law (in the case of public areas in residential complexes). The unclaimed lands for which the owners became responsible under the 2005 Housing Code demonstrate the scales of the privatization process: first the dwellings, then the common areas in the multi-unit buildings, and finally the common areas within the neighborhood. Looking at the cadastral maps we recognize a consistent pattern: in the last two decades, parcels have been delineated without general coordination. A defined amount of land has been assigned to some of the buildings, without care taken in the integration of these plots with the adjacent ones. Instead, in order to reduce conflicts, the definition of the land should have been done at once and at the district scale. The result is a series of scattered islands with clear boundaries, floating in a highly fragmented public realm. The cadastral surveys are conducted very slowly, and many areas do not have clear borders or definition. This situation increases the degree of propertys uncertainty, and consequently decreases the responsibility and care of the residents. At the same time, the complexity of the executive and bureaucratic structure does not allow a clear understanding of which actions citizens have to undertake in order to change, update or manage the land more productively. However, it would be too simplistic to reduce the problem to the negligence of the survey process. The fact is, in many microrayons it is very difficult to define what is public and what is private. There are some areas with a clear typology of houses, such as a yard closed by a series of buildings: in these cases, it is easy to determine the ownership of that land. But in many other cases, where free standing building slabs are located in an open space common all residents and visitors, it is almost impossible to define what land could belong to one building rather that to another. In a way, the morphology of the citys urban substance is resilient to the land fragmentation and privatization, generating abandoned lands and often tracts of effectively no-mans land between parcels. Other post-Soviet cities have undergone a more complete and efficient redistribution of land in parcels. Examples of this can be found in former Soviet countries, including Riga in Latvia, as well as in the Russian Federation, for example, in Yekaterinburg. There were some specific factors that influenced Moscows condition -- above all the decision taken by Luzhkov to delay the privatization of land. He was not

convinced of the correctness of the privatization process in the early 1990s, so he obtained the right to stop this process within Moscows administrative boundaries11. But, this situation is also somehow related to the condition of Moscow as Megacity. Moscow is, in fact, the city that has by far the biggest amount of inhabitants compared with the other cities of the post-Soviet bloc. In Moscow the process of urbanization was so quick and massive that the current institutions are not capable of dealing with such extant built environment or of proposing a coherent methodology to reconfigure the structure of the city. The municipality has the formal ownership and responsibility for the areas that in Moscow are not parceled, but in practice it has insufficient financial resources to deal with such an amount of space. Furthermore, a clear vision and will to reconfigure them is lacking. Again due to their lack of consolidation and often unclear borders, very few private developers found these areas profitable to invest in. This ultimately has resulted in their increasing degradation, left in a state of semi-abandon, covered carelessly with wild greenery in order not to maintain them, no-one using them for any purpose. The image below shows Troparevo-Nikulino, an administrative district chosen as a case study. In red are highlighted the above mentioned areas: publicly owned, but without adequate investments from the administration. The dimension and the diffusion of these areas, combined with the lack of intervention from the private and the public sector, lead to a general underdevelopment of the district. The lack of urban quality is evident and diffuse, the overgrown greenery demonstrates an obvious lack of attention to the public space. A more detailed analysis on a single square kilometer of this land has been conducted, in

> top: Yekaterinburg cadastral map. bottom: Moscow cadastral map. source:Rosreestr. State registration, cadastre and cartography.

< Plan of the Raion Troparevo-Nikulino. The yellow square represent the area selected as case study.

order to verify at micro-scale the percentage of land that is effectively used or left abandoned. The chosen area is located in the northern part of TroparevoNikulino and it mainly consists of residential buildings developed through different decades, from housing developments of the 1970s to the latest residential towers built at the beginning of the century. A recently renovated linear park crosses the heart of the area, dividing two parts with very different layouts, but quite similar in terms of architecture and service provision. Starting from a rough and out-of-date map of the area, I updated the drawing of the infrastructure, buildings, and public spaces with information coming from different available cartography sources12 and regular site visits. Even if not highly detailed, the map has a quite satisfactory approximation that allowed me to evaluate and quantify the different usages of the area. It turned out that 39% of the territory is gated, occupied by buildings or belonging to some person or company; 28% is devoted to infrastructure, sidewalks, parking lots, public functions such schools or sport centers, proper parks, and public spaces; while 33% is open publicly owned land composed of some residential yards, a few playgrounds, but mostly land that is underdeveloped or unused. This rough estimation shows percentages quite similar to the data available for the whole city, and it confirms how the districts that compose Moscow are quite homogenous in terms of their built environments. As a matter of fact, most of the residential districts outside the Garden Ring lack a number of public services, as well as sufficient jobs to employ local

residents. A study conducted in 2006 highlights several statistics: schools providing general education are at 89% of the required quantity, 50% of the pre-school institutions that are needed actually exist, and only 22% of the local cultural institutions and 13% of the covered sports facilities are built, while around 90% of the required consumer market and services facilities are available to residents13. Even these amenities only cover the very basic provision for a resident population, not taking into consideration activities such leisure. The result of this citizens feeling as though services are under-provided and likely over-used is clearly visible in the centripetal force that attracts daily millions of citizens to the center of Moscow. We witness a paradox that has to be overcome: on the one hand there is a vast amount of space and land that is not properly used, while on the other hand there is a shortage of many services for the residents of this land. From this perspective the re-programming of those areas is not just desirable, it is necessary. It is the key factor for the improvement of residential districts.

> Land division in one square kilometre selected as case study.


39% 33% 28%

case study Case


20% 6% 1% 6%

unused or underdeveloped yards playgrounds non-yard residential territories


11 % 7 % 10 %
2% sportfields

streets (including sidewalks, roadsides, transportation hubs) territories with public function (exhibitions, campuses, market places, etc.) green public space (parks, gardens, plazas, squares, boulevards, etc.)

As previously stated, it could be expected that the municipality, as the owner and therefore responsible agency, would take care of Moscows unclaimed lands, but given the current condition of these areas, it is clear that some other measures have to be taken. It is not merely insufficient financial resources within the municipality which produce such ill-attention: the issue of the maintenance of unclaimed landis highly widespread and decentralized, while Moscow is characterized by an extreme centralization both in the planning and in the administrative structures. Moscow has three distinct administrative levels: the central government at the city scale is divided in 10 prefectures called okrug, then each okrug is subdivided into raions for a total of 125, then each raion is administrated by one uprava, which is the lowest administrative level of the federal city of Moscow14. All the functionaries that lead these institutions are appointed by functionaries on the level above, and have to report to them constantly. In order to better understand how the raion chosen as case study (TroparevoNikulino) grows, I met Vasily Ivanovich Rogov (First Deputy head of the Council for Housing and Public Works) on February 14th. He explained to me that the planning is conducted based on a yearlong program in which major activities are planned; in 2012, for example, there are twelve of such activities planned. The uprava is responsible for administering a limited budget and for planning the activities for the coming year based on that budget. After that, the uprava needs to present every proposal for the main activities at the okrug level in order to obtain official approval. The coordination between the raions belonging to the Western Prefecture, 33 in total, is done collectively at the level of the okrug administration. More specifically, in the case of Housing and Public Works, Ivanovich had met three times that week with his superior working at the okrug, together with his 32 colleagues from other raions. This seems to be a constant pattern. This system is surely efficient to achieve certain goals, but it proves incapable in addressing very local issues. If we have a look at the program of urban plans that each raion is going to promote in the coming year, we notice how each administrative level reflects the level above. An extract from the Western Administrative okrug and one from the Troparevo-Nikulino raion are here presented. Contrary to what I was expecting, the plans of the raion do not add a single detail in planning the growth of the district. The plans promoted from the lowest administrative authority belongs only to two categories: big infrastructural plans that reflect and implement choices taken at wider scale, like the construction of a new metro station, and small scale maintenances or improvements necessary for the functioning of the district, like lift replacement of street repair.

As Struyk earlier pointed out, the decentralization is much greater in administration and service delivery rather than in funding and design15. All those projects of small/medium size that could really change the physical environment, like filling the unclaimed lands and fulfilling citizens needs, are somehow absent or not taken into consideration. Far from aiming at changing the administrative structure of a Megacity, I advocate that another actor should come into play within the planning and design dynamics of Moscow. The stakeholders that play a role in the urban realm usually belong to one of the following: the public sector, the private sector and the so called third sector. The third sector, a very vague and not well defined category, is everything not governmental and not driven by profit, including civil society and groups of activists. We have seen above how the public sector at the moment is not in the position to efficiently pursue local plans. Moreover, if we look at the current proposals coming from the city government, the growth and the renewal of Moscow will take place not inside its actual border, but outside, conquering new virgin lands to start almost from scratch. At the same time, the private sector is investing in mega-projects in the surrounding region, where the land is cheaper, empty, and where it is easier to maximize the profit of the investments. If the unclaimed lands could have easily been made profitable, some private investor would have already made use of them. Proceeding by exclusion, it seems reasonable that part of the solution for those lands has to come from the third sector. This stakeholder is widespread and local in the whole city, moreover it is the most interested in the reuse of the residential areas, being the first beneficiary from their improvement. The Civil Code of the Russian Federation allows also its potential inclusions in the government of

Top: Planning proposals. Extracts from the Western Administrative Okrug (left) and one from the Troparevo-Nikulino (right).

< The centrality of the administrative structure is higly reflected in the architecture of the institutions. Top: Moscow City Hall. Center: Western administrative Prefecture. Bottom: Uprava Troparevo-Nikulino.

the land, as shown in these two articles: On behalf of the municipal entity, the rights of the owner shall be exercised by the local self-government bodies and by the persons, indicated in Article 125 of the present Code. (Article 215, comma 2). [..] the state bodies, the local self-government bodies, and also legal entities and citizens may come out on their behalf upon their special order. (Article 125, comma 3). At the moment Moscow Administration shows an opening towards citizens inclusion in the growth of the city, but the methods that are used seem quite superficial and do not maximize the profitable help that can come from a mass of residents. Mayor Sobyanin founded last year a new Department of Information Technology of Moscow, with the aim of improving interaction with the citizens. Initiating the Portal of the Department he stated that The purpose of his creation [is] to give residents of the city of Moscow [the opportunity] to participate in managing the development of the city, to monitor the timeliness and quality of work within the framework of a comprehensive program of urban development16. This is a very honorable and ambitious purpose, but till now it has only be implemented through a monitoring and reporting from the side of the residents. In other words, residents are asked to express an opinion about certain actions already planned and under construction, giving a simplistic binary feedback: good vs. bad. It is obviously better than nothing, and it is surely a way to enlarge popular control over public expenses, but purposeful participation is still missing. Is there a way to include in a more direct way a critical mass of residents in shaping their built environment? Foreign and local examples show us that is possible. Can this critical mass eventually take care of those lands? There is no ready answer. The next part of the research will therefore analyze more in detail the current trends and potentials within the civil society of Moscow.



Generally speaking, the level of involvement of citizens in public life is quite low in Russia. Karine Clment, a well knows French researcher and activist based in Moscow, citing the outcome from sociological polls describes Russian society as characterized by weak citizenship, lack of trust in social relationships and a limited sense of belonging to a single society, not to mention civil society17. This low level of involvement is the result of a number of factors, many of them grounded in the recent past, echoes of the Soviet System. First, there is a general state of distrust towards institutions (except for the President and the Church in most cases), made worse by the diffuse idea that individuals are powerless against them. Second, there is a psychological barrier created by a lack of interest in common property and their management. Moreover, there seems to be rooted in society a certain degree of incapability in selforganization and self-management, after decades where citizens played a passive role, ruled by the Party in their everyday life18. Additionally, there is a negative attitude towards civic or public organizations: in Soviet times associations were often repressed with fear and terror -- no matter what the purpose, most of regular meeting between individuals were deemed suspicious and anti-Soviet19. Ultimately, a segment of the population is still convinced that the state is the only one responsible for offering a solution to problems, so they expect its intervention as happened in Soviet times. However, as Kolossov wrote in 2002, Moscow is socially and politically the most advanced of the Russian Federations 89 regions; this is true also nowadays. Social movements that are growing in Russia as response to the lack of trust in the government (and also deficiencies of the existing services) are primarily growing in Moscow. The first voluntary associations, dealing mainly with environmental, youth and elderly problems started to appear in Moscow at the beginning of the 1980s. Many of them were also distributing humanitarian aid from western countries. The rise of the civic sector happened before the collapse of Soviet Union between 1988-1989 -- for a few different reasons. First of all, in that period the independent trade unions were legalized, which started a competition with the political party. It was clear that there were other ways for things to be done, without counting only on the efficiency of the Party. Moreover, the administrative structure of Moscow changed. Before there were 33 zones, and in that period they were reorganized in the current administrative structure, with 10 okrugs and 125 upravas. It was not just a change in the political time, but also in the management system, and that caused many problems. Just to give one example, there were people that were first in the queue for an apartment for one zone in the 33 zones system. After the change no one knew how to reorganize the queues in the new areas, and many injustices were committed. It was a reason for people to try to self-organize20. Interestingly, the Party did not stop this happening. On the contrary it encouraged it. By facilitating these kind of movements it somehow tried to

gain more consensus. Here an anecdotal episode transcribed in an interview with Shomina: In a yard a group of residents wanted to remove a garbage container made of bricks in order to build a playground for the children. They asked the permission to the maintenance company that replied it was not possible. So they asked directly to one of the Partys local offices, and through this permission they were able to improve their yard. At this point one of the residents wrote to the central Party how the collaboration between residents led to in an improvement of their everyday lives, and how the Party should encourage this. After a few days, a central delegation of the Party was there to examine the yard and they made a sort of small ceremony for this achievement. Starting from that episode, the Party gave free spaces to the residents to meet and discuss about their problems and plans to improve the areas where they lived. They supported people initiatives to form selfcommittees. Obviously people did not know what to do, but at least they were not afraid. From 88 to the 93 Moscow saw an exceptional growth of this kind of community, on the basis of the Communist party infrastructure. Then, in 1993, Luzhkov declared this self-organization dangerous and illegal, and he locked these spaces for a few weeks. Then these spaces were opened again to the public, but at that point people were scared, and it was not as before. Moreover, at the beginning of the 90s, people were very poor; they had other problems and they did not care about communal spaces. With the collapse of the Soviet system, people realized that they have to act together to defend their housing rights. That was the closest problem to their lives. Brilliantly Shomina highlights that ironically, privatization created a situation in which citizens felt that the only opportunity of being heard, treated fairly, and gaining control was through collective action!21. As a matter of fact, since that time, the number of civil associations and NGOs has steadily grown. These organizations are involved in a broad variety of topics and causes, from childrens care, to womens rights, to veterans associations. This research and the following considerations are strictly related to those groups and initiatives that focus on urban issues. < Rise of interest in activism. Queries in Yandex search engine. Source: Yandex pulse.


Social movements in Moscow are either at the city scale, or undertaken locally. The groups that operate at city scale are groups in which participants are defined by very specific and common interests. They all focus on a particular topic, and join their efforts to reach certain goals that are self-defined. There is a strong majority of groups that focus on ecological issues (Ecamir, Eko-wiki, Ekodom, Right Environment, Russian Socio-Ecological Union, to list some of them), while there is an increasing number of movements that focus on architectural and urban issues. Some group that started by just collecting information and publishing it online, ended up taking collective actions and constituting bigger associations. Archnadzor is the most successful example of this type. Other activists started the other way around, by doing and promoting urban actions, finishing to found a group and to open an online website to promote their work. Partizaning is one of these groups. Starting from 2004, different initiatives were born in Moscow, all of them somehow related to preservation and heritage. MAPS was created in 2004, and in 2006 it was registered as NGO gaining legal status. MAPS made a website, communicated with journalists and foreign experts, and made publications and carried out research about preservation. They never made street actions. In the same year, 2004, the project The Moscow That Does Not Exist began. They also made a website, some publications, and also some very local street events, three or four in a year. At the same time other archives of the Soviet past started to appear online: SovArch (Soviet Architecture), Moscow Projects and MosContruct, a project for avant-garde architecture. They were all small initiatives, but when they started to know each other they decided to operate as a bigger movement to be more effective. They decided to join their efforts and merge under a bigger organization, Archnadzor, which works as an umbrella. From that moment the sum of the efforts was able to raise significantly the discussion about preservation in Moscow, and it was thus possible to channel their efforts in a more active and tangible set of actions. Archnadzor set up a Council, which is meeting every week, to coordinate the joint actions; it took time to structure a complex internal organization, but nowadays Archnadzor represent a very successful movement in Moscow. That does not mean that they are successful in most of the cases, but surely they were able to set up a very efficient way to coordinate continuous actions at city scale. Now, after three years of Archnadzor and ten years of our personal activities, we have found an efficient technology. Im talking about communication and organization technologies. In case we have a call of some local person telling that someone is starting to demolish or do something to an heritage building, in half an hour we are able to send police there, press, TV, we send ten letters to all the courts and local prefecture. We will start all this process, and people will come and start to picket. It is a real technology, and now we know it. And now? Should we share this social technology? I think so. We have a so-called action guide in our website, that tells everyone what to do to, and some example of successful actions22. Referring to social technology, Marina Khrustaleva is mainly referring to all those platforms and procedures that were created with patience through time and personal experience. Nowadays Archnadzor communicate almost daily with their group of followers through a variety of on-line media: they have a constantly updated website and a blog on, not to mention the basics of online communication such as Facebook, Vkontakte and Twitter. Moreover they are taking advantage of a platform to map building online, plus an extensive use of groups of online discussion, Google groups above all, as Marina Khrustaleva explained: Archnadzor itself consists of several hundred people organized in Google groups, and the chain of messages is really huge. Everyday 200 conversations are opened. So when something happens, when someone posts to the network some strange action close to an heritage building, in ten minutes someone will write that some friend of him lives there, someone else writes that he will go and verify in one hour because the place is on his way to school, etc. And this is quite enough. Maybe 300 people are not that many, but they are enough to cover Moscow. Now we need another technological step23. Partizaning, on the other hand, was born very recently with a very clear idea in mind: import in Moscow some of the recent Do It Yourself (DIY) experiences that are growing worldwide and adapt them on the Russian context in order to build more solids roots and practice in a context where these kind of actions are highly disconnected and not coordinated. The key point of their actions is to operate through a complex mix of urban interventions, street art and media, in order to increase the awareness of residents of the possibility of shaping actively their proximate urban environment. The point is that one of their outcomes is not just the action itself, but the process of slow education of more and more people that come into contact with Partizaning. Far from being a mature group like Archnadzor, Partizaning was able to promote and show how a group of few people can possibly be effective on a large scale. Above all has be mentioned the project in which they designed and implemented an unofficial cycle network in Moscow. From surveys to commuters, to the study of the most optimal routes, to marking them with an official-looking signage. Archnadzor and Partizaning have in common certain characteristics that make them successful. Their members joined the initiative with a very strong and specific interest in the topic, therefore they are prepared and have a good knowledge of the field they are operating in. Moreover they are driven by a positive attitude. Even if with their efforts contribute in filling in some areas not covered sufficiently by the government, they do not resign themselves to complaints and demonstrations, but they operate through a purposeful series of actions. Operating at the scale of the Megacity they do not have to refer specifically to any local authority, resulting in having more freedom of action. They are in the position to be more flexible and adaptable depending on the situation. To finish, it is evident how the extensive use of online social network and media plays a big role in communicating their actions and keeping the group updated and tight. But to the contrary, these features can rarely describe local movements.


The second typology of social movements in Moscow is those that happen locally. Local groups of activists in most of the cases were born from housing issues. Usually, such associations start with the smallest problems of their living environment such as cleaning dirty, dark, and unsafe staircases and entrance halls, or repairing a leaking roof. Later, they become involved in real social problems of the wider community. Sometimes, a staircase group gives rise to a housing committee, a housing committee joins its efforts with other housing committees, and collectively, they merge to form a neighborhood committee24. As described above, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, housing issues became very central in residents lives, and today it is still by far the focal issue for contemporary civic activism. The character of this participation comes directly from the necessity to overcome some common problems, acting in place of the former political structure, as stressed by Vihavainen in 2009, the

constitute an organization, but from the moment of its creation everyone should take part at the meetings and decisions. We can somehow judge this aspect as positive: being a voluntary association increases its social character. Moreover TSZh are located where people live so that geographically they are the closest organization to citizens everyday lives. The TSZh has a simple structure: more than 50% of the households must participate in order to actually form a TSZh. There is a board of elected members that takes care of the administration and the everyday management decisions, like deciding which company to hire (in many cases corruption, also plays a role in this) The elected chairperson cannot stay in this position for more than two years. Although there tends to be low participation of homeowners in these organizations, at the same time, social involvement in housing is very popular in Russia, and the level of participation is therefore higher than in other fields or activist activities. In Moscow the number of housing committees has increased fivefold in only a few years, reaching 5350 in October 200528. Some critiques can be made of the way these organizations are organized: first of all they refer only to households, excluding potentially some residents. Moreover, there are many recorded cases of marionette TSZh, initiated by the government and often infiltrated by certain representatives with the aim of obtaining funds and power to decide how to invest the residents money in, for example, a management company related to the municipality29. While the system is not perfect, the associations do seem to encourage certain behavior and practices that need to be fully developed by Moscows residents anyway: they encourage people to be effective actors in the market. Homeowners associations are the embodiment of this task, the decision-making channel for residents, a sort of experiment in democracy and an early step towards civic activity on a grassroots level30. Homeowners associations may therefore serve as the first step for civic activity, as a school of democracy 31. In the raion Troparevo-Nikulino, different TSZh meet regularly every month to discuss topics of general interest, not only issues related to their shared responsibility for property management or repairs, but also to talk about the desired developments within the raion, such as more childrens hospitals, the reconstruction of the park, and so on. These organizations represents thousands of people in the districts, and it is reasonable to assume that as they become more prominent or unified, the local political power will take their needs more and more into consideration. The relationship with local administrations is a crucial component for the success of local groups, since the uprava is the administrative level to which they have to refer in order to promote their goals. Currently, the vertical administrative structure of Moscow does not allow a real decentralization of power, and local institutions play more a role of faade of the central government rather than functioning as promoters of local interests. As described above, for the planning structure of

< Registered TSZh in Moscow.

volume of civic activity shows that there are clear problems in housing and that people are willing to take action to improve the situation25. In order to have the legal status to act as a group, homeowners can constitute a Homeowners association, called TSZh ( - ). In the last years Moscow saw a booming number of these associations, following the Housing Code of the 2005 in which the government obliged homeowners to take direct responsibility for the common areas in their buildings. The TSZh was one of the proposed forms through which homeowners could carry out this obligation. A homeowners association is a spontaneous, non-profit organization, in which any household can participate through direct involvement and common meetings to take shared decisions. It is legally registered and it has the status of legal entity. The main activity and responsibility of the homeowners association is the organization and maintenance of buildings. This kind of associations are not new in Russia: from the 1920s there was an apartment supervisor (kvartupolnomochennyi) in communal apartments who had the duty to report needs, complaints and suspicious behaviours to the Housing Committee (domkom)26. Housing Cooperatives were another example of success in residential self-organization. However, the contemporary Russian TSZh has a particularly distinctive characteristic when compared to similar entities in other countries: participation is not mandatory. Russia is therefore the only country in the world in which membership of a homeowners association is voluntary27. This differs, for example, from the majority of cases where it is not mandatory to

Moscow, the officials that are responsible for the uprava and okrug do not have to report to citizens, but to the upper authority. This is a result of the fact that the officials themselves are placed in their position from the top, rather than elected from the bottom. Citizens nowadays vote only for the Russian President (the farthest and most inaccessible political figure from their everyday life) and deputies for the municipality. Even if deputies have voices and motivations, these deputies have very limited power, relating mostly to sport and youth issues. All the decisions taken at the local level have to be approved by the head of the uprava, appointed by the okrug. Within this system officials do not have many incentives to satisfy peoples requests, and the effectiveness in responding to local needs is strongly depending on the attitude of the person in charge of the uprava. These problematic relations increase the distrust of residents and groups of residents towards these institutions, and as a result, the relationship is, most of the time, only reactive (or sometimes silent) toward complaints, rather than one of active participation. Local groups end up unified mainly by what Aleksey Levinson described as negative solidarity, the protection of their own interest against an higher power32. This imposition of power is reflected at the micro-scale, even within local movements. One characteristic of most of the self-organized movements is a strong dependency on the figure of the leader. Ironically, in some ways, movements recreate the same dynamics of power-dependency of which they are victims; as suggested by Clement, some leaders are afraid of talented new entry in the group who can take their leadership33. Therefore, in most of the cases the success of the groups depends on the capabilities of their leader. If he or she is capable of attracting enough attention from the media, and/or creating the right network of trusted people within the raion and within the local institution, the movement will be more likely to reach its goals. Otherwise, the group turns out to be ineffective, often because it will be caught between a local authority that does not offer enough support and groups of criminals that try to promote their interests. In the context of this research, I received an email from another Strelka student that was helping contact with the head of a particular TSZh: Just as I was about to contact him, I learned that he was beaten to half death by criminal businessmen his TSZh was fighting against. These people wanted to privatize the attic in the house where they live. From what I know, they may have faked TSZh meeting protocols, as if the majority of inhabitants agreed to that. Were talking about a beautiful old house very close to Kremlin, in the old part of the city. Misha Shulman is the head of TSZh. And now hes in life support. It happened yesterday. Theres a lot in the Russian web on it, not much in English34. Evidence above suggests that participation in Moscow requires another level of commitment (and often complicitness) than the commitment required in Western cities such as Milan. It is not only enlarging consensus and taking decisions based on this larger group of peoples preferences and concerns in order to jointly address certain problems that are considered relevant. Instead, it means to put yourself in a wild territory, where rules and procedures lack to guaranteeing your physical protection, even before the inclusion of your efforts.

Comparing the activities and effectiveness of local groups with those of city-scale activists, some differences have to be highlighted. Local groups are generally moved by necessities rather than interests, and people involved are not necessarily prepared on the topic. They are mainly amateur, and they spend a lot of time looking for information that is not always accessible. The relationship with local authorities is necessary but not designed to be favorable for both parties and turns out to be extremely influenced by the personality of the specific figure of the head of the administration or of the group leader. The relationship within the groups are mainly vis--vis, due to geographical proximity and considering the fact that online social media are not accessible to most of the retirees who constitute a consistent percentage of the participants. In 2008 an ambitious project was launched by the team With their effort, an independent blog was created for every district in Moscow, in order to give to residents an alternative place for discussion and gathering. However, in Troparevo-Nikulino it seems that this type of media does not function. In more or less 5 years only 54 posts were submitted, and mainly with contents related to: (1) meeting other people, (2) proposing activities (volleyball, etc.), (3) posting basic information for those who just moved in (passport, baths, fitness, etc.), (4) making suggestions for basic needs (broken pc, etc.), (5) sharing some news or asking about them (gunfights, etc.), (6) making suggestion for housing issues (how to install new staircases, how to deal with water problems, etc.), (7) giving info about ongoing constructions in the area and (8) airing very general complaints35.

> Moscow administrative structure.


The nature of city-scale and local activist groups is therefore diverse, and the contacts between them is sporadic and not systematic. The NGOs acting at the city-wide scale see their main objective as lobbying for more effective legislation rather than everyday work with local organizations36. In order to characterize better the two groups, it is useful to refer to network theory to understand what are their limits and potentials. Network theory is widely used in many disciplines ,such mathematics, informatics, biology, geography, sociology and anthropology. Social network analysis represents and studies social relations between individual actors within a network. The most common representation is a network made of nodes (persons, places, groups, companies, etc. depending on the purpose of the study) and links (the relations between the nodes). The shape of the social network is useful to determine the pattern of interactions between the actors, and leads to further analysis to determine what are the key actors, what are the strengths of the overall system, what are the weakness and what relations should be improved for a better functioning of the whole system. In network theory are described two kind of groups. (1) One type is characterized by low-density, where many of the possible relations are absent. Thinking about our personal experience we can make a parallel with our group of acquaintances, where few of whom know one another. Thanks to these relations it is possible to access to information and resources beyond those available in their own social circle37, and in this case the weak tie between Ego and his acquaintance, therefore, becomes not merely a trivial acquaintance tie but rather a crucial bridge between the two densely knit clumps of close friends38. These kind of groups are far better for highly unstructured tasks. (2) The second type is characterized by high-density, for example the group of our close friends, most of whom will be in touch with one another. These kind of ties are more easily available and have greater motivation to be of assistance39 but it turns out that individuals with few weak ties will be deprived of information from distant parts of the social system and will be confined to the provincial news and views of their close friends. [..]social systems lacking in weak ties will be fragmented and incoherent. New ideas will spread slowly, scientific endeavors will be handicapped, and subgroups separated by race, ethnicity, geography, or other characteristics will have difficulty reaching a modus vivendi40. This kind of group is better for highly structured tasks. The description of the categories of weak and strong ties reflects, at an abstract level, the qualities of the two groups of activists described above. On the one
E F C A (a) B J G I

hand we see how city-scale activists are connected to one or more groups by a weak relationship, a connection made possible by the extensive use of online media. The reach of each individual is broad and follows the fluid trajectory of a network made of friends of friends, acquaintances of acquaintances. The relations are more superficial, but at the same time more focused on the common goal activists want to reach. As described by Granovetter, this kind of network has a great potential, especially in facilitating the flow of information, knowledge and innovation. On the other hand we have local groups connected by strong ties, created by the geographical proximity and more frequent face to face meetings. This facilitate a relationship more constructive over time, and with stronger mutual support, fundamental for a community that aims to shape its environment. At the same time, through case studies it has been proven that [..] individuals with few weak ties were unlikely to mobilize effectively for collective action within their communities [..] The group recruited on the basis of strong ties was linked to the fewest organizations and individual memberships were concentrated in the same organizations which formed a dense network. Later recruits tended to join the same groups as the founders. Groups formed on the basis of weak ties, on the other hand, were linked to more organizations that were loosely knit and individual memberships tended to be scattered throughout these organizations. The strong-tie group was ultimately unsuccessful41. The research conducted this year, mainly through primary sources, helped me in finding these analogies. As a further step, I suggest that systematic research has to be conducted in order to have a clearer understanding of the connections between local and city-scale activists. It will be thus possible to map the system of relations and intervene promoting certain kind of useful bridges between the two scales. However, some features of the two groups are quite evident, and it appears reasonable to try to restructure the system of relation of groups at the local scale. That does not mean trying to make them similar to those groups connected by weak ties; there is a necessity for both, strong and weak ties. This is one of the reasons for promoting a physical space in the district not influenced by any governmental institutions or private interest where residents can meet and discuss with experts about the condition and the future of their district. This center will focus on urban issues, acting both as consulting for the residents and creating independent plans for the area, in order to offer solutions to be discussed with the residents. The real challenge of the center is an efficient way to involve a critical mass of planners, architects and designers with the aim of solving the reconfiguration of the unclaimed lands, and then to coordinate a joint action that appears to be very hard to manage. In online virtual communities, new models of participation show an increasing level of success in addressing and reaching common goals. It is worth analyzing these models to understand if there are ready-made experiences that can spill over the virtual and be included in the urban realm.

< The strength of weak ties. The image represent two kind of network: (a) the first connected by strong ties and (b) the second where weak ties are more predominant. Source: Granovetter 1973.

D C E A (b) B


In the case of a large amount of people involved in information-sharing and decision-making the level of complexity of these actions increases exponentially. Many democratic issues have been solved in a digital environment, following different models. With respect to online communities, it is important to analyze what the role of governance of infrastructure is in their success. In other words, not only the nature of transmitted information is important, but also the degree of control of the users over the infrastructure that conveys the information itself. The basic assumption is that a key aspect which distinguishes online collaborative architectures from other forms of collaboration is that the online process is mediated by the work being created and the overall environment, as opposed to mediation by direct social interaction as in other forms of collaboration42. Fuster Morel tries in his essay to demonstrate how infrastructure governance shapes the community in terms of size, and complexity of collaboration43 basing his conclusions on empirical analysis. In his study he formulates five different models as result of the interaction of two variables: the level of openness of the infrastructure (axis x) and the degree of autonomy from the infrastructure itself (axis y). The openness of the infrastructure increases with the possibility of users to take part in the provider body; it ranges from no openness, in the cases of closed for profit initiatives, to complete openness and informal organizations. Greater autonomy of the content is achieved with copyleft licenses and open codes while dependency refers to on conditions based on copyright or proprietary codes. A brief description of the five models follows. (1) Corporate model (Delicious, Facebook, Facebook Dev., Flickr, YouTube). This model is closed and users cannot become a member of the provider; at the same time there is a total dependency from the infrastructure, no changes can be made. It follows a for-profit strategy. Participants are trapped in the platform, as the copyright and proprietary software framework restricts the freedom and autonomy of the participants in the platform (Fuster Morel, 2010, 10). This model creates the largest communities but it is also based on the absence of a common goal. This model increases freedom of content rather than collaboration. In other words, it increases individual participation, but lowers collaboration between participants. (2) University network model (PLOS, Jurispedia, Connexions, Fee Open R.C., DOAJ, Interactive Design, Intuve, World Library). This group is very diverse, and he describes examples where several universities provided a platform which facilitates free accessibility. This network is nonprofit, but the only possible providers are the universities themselves and therefore they attract only a very limited number of users with very specific ranges of interests. (3) Mission enterprise model (Slahdot,, Wikia, Wikihow, Wikitravel). This model is closed, users cannot become member of the provider, but they have maximum autonomy from the infrastructure. It is a profit-based model, therefore closed to participant involvement, but it enables collaboration. It is a strategy for developing new business models which are compatible with netenabler conditions44. This model is second in size and (together with the foundation one) is more able to induce collaboration. (4) Autonomous representational foundation model (Ekopedia, Open Plans, Open Site, Source Watch, Wikipedia, Deribian, Drupal, Opensteetplans, Ourmedia, Plone, SELF platform, Project Gutenberg, This model characterized by a provider body which is (relatively) open to participant involvement as it uses some formal filters. This model is also characterized by promoting the freedom and autonomy of collaboration (netenabler). Additionally, they are nonprofit. Being relatively open to participant involvement implies that they are formal, and not open in terms of the selfselection of participants, but open in terms of filters of requirement. In this regard it could be considered a hybrid form (partly open, partly closed)45. This model is third in size and (together with the enterprise one) is more able to induce collaboration. (5) Self-provision assembly model (P2P Foundation, WSF 2008 Map, E-library social, ESF Directory, Network Politics, Open ESF, USSF, The Assayer). It is characterized by being the most open in terms of provision. A self-selected

community of participants can be part of the provision body in this model. It follows an informal organizing logic (without a board or legal entity) and is non-profit oriented. Additionally, the assembly model assures the most netenabler conditions46. This model creates the smallest communities, but it has to be said that there is the greatest variability in size. This classification of models enables the author to show empirically which are those that can attract more users and verify their level of collaborativeness. In conclusion, none of the models combine a large community size and collaborativeness. The corporation model generates the biggest communities, based on lower levels of collaboration; the foundation and enterprise models are able to raise midsized communities, and are more collaborative communities. Finally, the assembly model is the weakest in terms of generating successful OCCs47. The conclusions of Fuster Morel help us in focusing more specifically on a structure of collaborativeness. Aiming at a non-profit model, it seems from its research that the Foundation Model is the one that can attract a wider number of users and facilitate their participation and collaborativeness. Let us take Wikipedia as a case study, the most well-known community belonging to this category. These model of participation is open to any new user but it is kept stable by a hierarchic structure; however the hierarchy is very short and relatively flattened: we see a large amount of editors and contributors, and just another level of administrators that have higher possibility to edit or cancel that which is produced by others. On the top, a very limited number of members take decisions not related to the content of the project, but mainly about fundraising (being nonprofit) and other administrative issues. This model seems to work since the community has a clear goal in mind, building the biggest encyclopedia ever made, while they do not necessarily have to cooperate directly with others in the achievement of this goal. The collaboration happens by layers and layers of new and different additions of contents, strongly depending on the interest of the contributor. Since the goal is clear and can be done independently by each user (with the supervision of some administrators), this project resulted in being extremely efficient in carrying on its task. Wikipedia has some features of a bigger movement named Open Source that is worth analyzing more in detail.

12000000 10000000 8000000

Open source communities represent the latest online evolution of groups where people make and share information or products. These communities follows principles that ground them both in the practical and in the ideological sphere. Before starting the analysis it is necessary to give space to the endless discussion of the concepts of open source and free software. The first one is concentrated on the process that create the software, while the second on the ethical values of freedom of the users. One of the main founders and promoters of the free software movement, Richard Stallman, better describes the difference between the two terms. Nearly all open source software is free software. The two terms describe almost the same category of software, but they stand for views based on fundamentally different values. Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement. For the free software movement, free software is an ethical imperative, because only free software respects the users freedom. By contrast, the philosophy of open source considers issues in terms of how to make software betterin a practical sense only. It says that nonfree software is an inferior solution to the practical problem at hand. For the free software movement, however, non-free software is a social problem, and the solution is to stop using it and move to free software48. In this framework, the term free hardware would be more appropriate for my research, but I prefer to use open source hardware in order to avoid all the confusion and misunderstanding related to the term free. Open source is a way to collaborate (normally on software) giving free access to all to information about the product. It works because people sacrifice their intellectual rights in order to release a product that everyone can use and improve. It is a collaborative movement the results of which are highly efficient (e.g. Linux menaces giants like Microsoft). It helps to generate very impressive results in a very short period of time, because the efforts of the users-developers are based on the work that someone else did before and gave to the community freely. The Open Source movement, in order to find a practical and legal way to operate, had to set up an innovative license. Here the ten points of the license are listed: (1) Free Redistribution - the license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software, (2) Source Code - the program must include source code, (3) Derived Works - the license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software, (4) Integrity of The Authors Source Code - the license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software, (5) No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups, (6) No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor, (7) Distribution of License - the rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed, (8) License Must Not Be Specific to a Product - the rights attached to the program must not depend on the programs being part of a particular software distribution, (9) License Must Not Restrict Other Software - the license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software and (10) License Must Be Technology-Neutral - no provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface49. The license of the open source movement is mainly based on a previous one, created by the Free Software Foundation: the GNU General Public License (GPL). More or less it contains the same articles, but with a stronger accent on the ethical reasons for this kind of license. It is at the same time a legal document and a manifesto, as easily understandable in the licenses introduction: The licenses for most software and other practical works are designed to take away your freedom to share and change the works. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change all versions of a program--to make sure it remains free software for all its users. We, the Free Software Foundation, use the GNU General Public License for most of our software; it applies also to any other work released this way by its authors. You can apply it to your programs, too50. These rules and practices may seem far from the physical reality of the built environment. However, their nature is very close to the way groups of urban activists face urban transformations. If we focus particularly on those groups that operate and promote DIY interventions the similarities are very evident. The action itself is quite simple and easy to reproduce, usually through the

reuse of recycled materials. These groups encourage 6000000 and promote the reproduction of the same projects in4000000 other context; one example is Park(ing) Day, born in San Francisco, replicated in New York 2000000 and then spread worldwide through Europe to Moscow: the same action, invented, made better, 0implemented in a variety of different and then 1991 1993 1995 context. Linux represents one (if not the) most successful product of the collaboration of part-time



14000000 12000000 10000000 8000000 6000000 4000000 2000000 0 Lines of code Users






volunteers scattered around the globe. Its success has been brilliantly described 1993 by one of the 1995 first 1991 contributors of the GNU project, Eric Raymond, in his book The cathedral and the bazaar. It is the comparison of two distinct models: the cathedral, a top-down centralized model that represents the interests of some groups of power, and the bazaar, a more open environment where interaction is more horizontal. Apart from the capabilities of its developers, Linuxs strength lays in the methodology by which it keeps expanding, a methodology that does not fear mistakes and errors. Linus Torvaldss style of developmentrelease early and often, delegate everything you can, be open to the point of promiscuitycame as a surprise. [..] the Linux community seemed to resemble a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches [..] out of which a coherent and stable system could seemingly emerge only by a succession of miracles. The fact that this bazaar style seemed to work, and work well, came as a distinct shock51. Obviously, in the Open Source movement, cooperation is the main means in which progress and innovation happen; Linus Torvalds, the Linux kernels programmer, set up a very powerful network of co-operators. Users are wonderful things to have, [..] properly cultivated, they can become co-developers. [..] Given a bit of encouragement, your users will diagnose problems, suggest fixes, and help improve the code far more quickly than you could unaided. [..] The power of this effect is easy to underestimate. In fact, pretty well all of us in the open-source world drastically underestimated how well it would scale up with number of users and against system complexity, until Linus Torvalds showed us differently. In fact, I think Linuss cleverest and most consequential hack was not the construction of the Linux kernel itself, but rather his invention

1997 1999 The rise of Linux. Number of users and lines of code between 1900 and 1999. Source: Forbes Magazine.

of the Linux development model52. And more specifically: In those early times (around 1991) it wasnt unknown for him to release a new kernel more than once a day! Because he cultivated his base of co-developers and leveraged the Internet for collaboration harder than anyone else, this worked53. The system created by Torvalds was demonstrated to be extremely efficient in enlarging the number of people able to find and fix problem. It is a sort of daily challenge for the one who feels involved. And this methodology is obviously very different from the cathedral one, where the product can go on the market only when it has no (or very few) bugs. It takes months (or year) to come out with a stable product, and users that pay have obviously higher expectations from that product. Let us for a second make a parallel to similar problems in the urban environment. Lets think about the unclaimed land. That could be that segment of the market that no one wants. A mass of volunteers can actually cooperate to design and realize many different solutions for Moscow public spaces, and share these solutions with others. The solutions can be taken or modified by other people. Very often it is not necessary (as usually happens in normal planning) to design something for months and then build it. Now we just need to identify where the initial kernel (or rules, or conditions) is into which these urban hackers could actually plug their projects. Moving in an open source environment means to break the division between users (citizens) and programmers (planners): ...mismatch between the testers and the developers mental models of the program; the tester, on the outside looking in, and the developer on the inside looking out. In closedsource development theyre both stuck in these roles, and tend to talk past each other and find each other deeply frustrating. Open source development breaks this bind, making it far easier for tester and developer to develop a shared representation grounded in the actual source code and to communicate effectively about it54. In other words, the open platform accessible to everyone allows for a common ground for discussion. In the same way, a permanently ongoing urban plan (complete and available to the most detailed element) would be the proper starting point for a constructive discussion between citizens, government and investors. Raymond concludes his book by describing the necessary preconditions to start a bazaarstyle model of participation. Particularly, he states that is almost impossible to start from scratch with this model: Your nascent developer community needs to have something runnable and testable to play with. When you start community-building, what you need to be able to present is a plausible promise. Your program does not have to work particularly well. It can be crude, buggy, incomplete, and poorly documented. What it must not fail to do is (a) run, and (b) convince potential co-developers that it can be evolved into something really neat in the foreseeable future55. What motivate the hackers? What motivates people involved in making Linux better? This is a very crucial question. There are two main reasons: the necessity to develop something that does not exist, and the satisfaction of the ego of the hacker by recognition among other hackers. How can this be transported to the urban environment? The need for alternative solutions for the unclaimed land is evident, the issues is now how to satisfy the ego of the participants. One of the best-known folk theorems of software engineering is that 60% to 75% of conventional software projects either are never completed or are rejected by their intended users56. What about the amount of unrealized projects of architects, designers and activists? All the design proposals that are discarded along the design process? What about the hundreds and thousands of project that did not win a competition? Where does their potential go? Can it be somehow stored and entrapped in a more ambitious project? As the case of Wikipedia and Linux show, users are willing to contribute to a project if they clearly understand and realize the potential of the very central ideas, no matter how visionary it sounds, like making the largest encyclopedia in the world or creating a new operating system able to compete with Windows. The intention of reprogramming the vast amount of underdeveloped land in Moscow could represent for the designer community a challenge equally visionary and feasible. Projects of so-called Open Architecture are currently being tested in a few online communities, OpenSimSim above all. However, these experiments cannot attract a critical amount of users since they are more focused on the process itself rather than the application of the proposed projects. It is no

wonder that the highest amount of participants in the OpenSimSim project was recorded when there was a specific project that collected and developed ideas in response to the Japanese tragedy in 2011. Moscow has therefore the opportunity to become again a center of experimentation and avantgardism if it will be able to attract the attention and the efforts of architects, planners and designers as a response to the issue of unclaimed land.
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

< Linux distribution timeline. Copyright (C) 2010-2011 Andreas Lundqvist, Donjan Rodic.


The issue of the unclaimed land in Moscow has both spatial and functional qualities. The interaction of residents and the network of urban activists is crucial to address properly the range of interventions, but a model for this land requires the inclusion of architecture and design as the means of it transformation. A territory of this scale can hardly be managed coherently trough spontaneous interactions. The model that I propose as a pilot project for Moscow sees architects, planners and designers as activators of local processes in which the resident population will contribute with further feedbacks, ideas and improvement. Participation has now gained a positive meaning, but at the same time participation in the micro-urban environment is so complex in that is very difficult to understand all the forces at play in that field. Marcus Miessen proposes an interesting scenario where decisions in the urban environment are not necessarily taken through the involvement of the majority, but where plans are promoted by an outsider who instead of trying to set up or sustain common denominators of consensus enters existing situations or projects by deliberately instigating conflicts as a micro-political form of critical engagement with the environment that one is operating in57. The author does not describe a specific model, but he argues that instead of breeding the next generation of facilitators and mediators, we should try to encourage the disinterested outsider, the one that is unaware of prerequisites and existing protocols, entering the arena with nothing but creative intellect. [..] Given the increasing fragmentation of identities and the complexities of the contemporary city, we are now facing a situation in which it is crucial to think about a form of commonality that allows conflict as a form of productive engagement: a model of bohemian participation in the sense of a point of entry for outsiders who access existing debates and discourses, untroubled by disapproval58. The role of architects in Moscow, in relation to the unclaimed land, should escape the traditional dynamics of the profession in order to contribute new proposals and solutions for those lands. An open and volunteer contribution to the project would create a wide set of ready-made rough solutions for certain areas. The image on the facing page shows a hypothetical scenario of reprogramming the unclaimed land, filled and transformed by a mix of heterogeneous proposals made by professionals or other people interested in the design of those areas. It would constitute the unofficial development plan for the district and it will be always discussed, updated and transformed through the activity of the center. Moscow residential districts are often similar in terms of built environment and its problems; some projects proposed for some areas could be easily readapted and modified by the residents in other areas. The proposed projects will be generic solutions capable of being changed and adapted easily since the drawings and guidelines will be open and shared. Without a set of proposals for the reuse of the areas, the interaction between citizens and the authorities will rarely reach a productive discussion. On the contrary, if a set of projects is already in place, residents would visualize different solutions to shape their environment, and discuss them with the designers, to change and improve them, and with the municipality, to find a way to realize them. It is a wide reprogramming effort that counts on the infinite potentiality of the unbuilt. The outcome of the design process that I proposed here is purely speculative, but it helps to better understand and quantify what is behind the unclaimed lands. The yellow proposals suggest realistic interventions, and show how it is possible to reuse those lands in order to create new public spaces, functions of collective interests that are nowadays missing in the area, but also new dwellings and offices. If we take this square kilometer as representative of most of the areas outside the Garden Ring, the aggregate potential of this proposal increase significantly. Reproducing exactly this kind of interventions and functional mix on a large scale would create low rise housing for 500,000 people and offices and workshops where 800,000 people could find an occupation close to their houses, decreasing therefore traffic-related problems. 14,000 hectares of

agricultural land, more than half of the city center, will be available for urban farming and produce profit that could be reinvested locally. Moreover, it will be possible to build a retail area 130 times the size of GUM, and new 390 hectares of markets area, 1.7 times bigger the Cherkizovsky Market, the biggest market in Russia, shut down in 2009 with an annual income of 300 million dollars per year. The city will have new libraries for an area 92 times bigger the Lenins Library and new exhibition centers 27 times the size of the Pushkin museum. Finally, the number of bars, restaurants, post offices, banks, theaters, cinemas and clubs would almost double in Moscow, fulfilling more adequately residents needs. This estimation is rough, but it identifies a scenario that has to be taken into consideration from the authorities and those in charge to shape the growth of Moscow.

> Possible reuse of the underdeveloped lands in the case study area.


In order to open the process to the majority of residents the interactions between citizens, designers and authorities should take place in a physical space in the residential areas. In this space, a limited number of people will contribute with their work in order to keep this process continuous in time, rather than a one-shot design proposal. This space will work as a center for the development of the district. The description of the main activities of the center follows. (1) Mapping of available land. There is no official map or understanding of the quantity of the publicly owned land that is available for redesign. Or at least there are no studies that systematically show it. This is the first action that has to be undertaken and will require at least one topographer and an architect. In St. Petersburg a pilot project succeeded in the mapping of green spaces in the yards by the residents. The result was quite positive and encouraging, since the survey had a decent level of accuracy. (2) District analysis. Architects or planners (including students) will survey the physical condition of the district, producing and making available a variety of set of maps showing functions, spaces, areas, public services, etc. . Professional from social science fields will indeed map the intangible reality of the district, through interviews, questionnaire, surveys and all other methodology they find appropriate to describe the problems and the potential of the place. The outcome will be a series of reports and researches that can be transcribed and made accessible together with the maps. (3) Promoting the creation of proposals. Based on the analysis conducted on the district and the cartography of unclaimed land, the center will constantly search for architects, planners, designers, activists and residents, to ask them to come forward with proposals for the areas. This can be done in a variety of ways, from an open competition, to social networks, to direct contacts, and the proposals will be collected and archived in what will be the open atlas of Moscow, in the sense that will show ideas for that district, but the solutions can be taken also from other centers or people in Moscow. The projects will have an open source license, and therefore it will be possible to build them directly, or to contribute with further modifications and improvements. (4) In order to transfer the real needs of the residents into the proposals, a variety of meetings will be held with the resident population where it will be possible to discuss the solutions, select the most preferred and spend time together with designer to make the necessary improvements. It will serve also

as a moment of education of the residents to urban theme, being in tight cooperation with a professional of that field. Moreover the center will be open most of the time, giving the opportunity to residents to contribute and interact with their proposals at any time, without waiting for the official or scheduled meeting, or to come to the center looking for counseling on urban or design issues. It will be therefore possible to create a local entity to which to refer in order to fill the knowledge gap of the resident population or other groups of people interested in the topics. (5) Once there is a critical mass of projects and residents participating in their development, other stakeholders like the municipality and possible developers will be slowly included in the meetings to become an active part of the discussion. The outcome of the discussions is unknown, but it will create an open and purposeful discussion within the district that likely will lead to the improvement of the public realm through the provision of ready-designed solutions for problems that the municipality has to address in the coming years. (6) If agreement can be reached between all the parts, the center can take part in the construction process of the projects itself. With a series of workshops, activists and residents can participate together in phases of the construction, acquiring knowledge that will be reused in other parts of Moscow, or in followings projects. I propose to test the implementation of this center in one of the raion of Moscow. Through this test it will be possible to understand strength and weakness of the model, before implementing it in other raions. Ideally each raion should implement this kind of center to create local alternatives to the planning practices of Moscow, and the delimitation at the raion scale seems necessary and fundamental since the authorities to interact with are already in place in Moscows administrative structure.

mapping of available land problem analisys education meetings & discussions

> Diagram of functioning of the Center for distric development.


project construction


< Top: The Center for Community Preservation and Planning, Newton, County, Georgia (pop: 100,000 inhabitants). Center: Presentation of The plan 2050: building a sustainable community. Bottom: Meeting with the residents.


A territory bigger than Milan lays unused or underdeveloped within the border of Moscow.This territory is highly fragmented and under public responsibility. The article has highlighted that the current planning and administrative structure of Moscow does not allow an efficient reconfiguration of these areas, while private investments are inadequate and not sufficient to deal with the issue. This article proposes a an alternative way to promote local plans and projects capable of infilling these areas, counting on the rising civil society of Moscow. Local realities and districts can benefit from the energy and the experience gained from groups of activists currently operating. The study of social networks and open source shown successful examples where an open and volunteer collaboration proved to be extremely successful. Learning from the lesson of Linux this article proposes a model capable of integrating architects, designers, planners and activist in a process of continuous promotion and production of new solutions and alternatives for the unclaimed areas. The final outcome of the research is the recommendation to implement a center for the development of the district where designers, resident, authorities and investors can find a place to discuss (and also to learn how to discuss) local urban issues. Residents will approach this place as the center where to find information and consultancy on urban, architecture and design issues, while the center itself will be therefore the place where ideas are created, discussed, modified and implemented locally. The research describes some features of the center, but it also recommends the implementation of a pilot project in a district in order to understand what can be improved or changed before enlarging the implementation to other districts and eventually to the whole megacity.


1. Sergey Shoshin, Boundaries of public space in Moscow. (Research report, Strelka, 2011), 59. 2. Ibid., 67. 3. Nadezhda Kosareva and Raymond Struyk, Housing Privatization in the Russia Federation in Housing Policy Debate 4, no. 1 (1993): 83. 4. Ibid., 83. 5. Ibid., 84-85. 6. Ibid., 87. 7. Ibid., 91. 8. Sergey Denisenko, head of the Moscow department of the federal state of registration, inventory and mapping. A quarter of non-privatized housing remained in Moscow official, accessed June 9, 2012, moskovsky_komsomolets/4. 9. Economic commission for Europe, Country profiles on the housing sector: Russian Federation (Geneva: United Nations Publications, 2004), 83. 10. Rosa Vihavainen, Homeowners Associations in Russia after the 2005 Housing Reform (Helsinki: Kikimora Publications, 2009), 14. 11. Presidential Decree No. 96 of February 6, 1995 on the Second stage of Privatization in the City of Moscow. 12. Rosreestr (State registration, cadastre and cartography), Google Maps, Yandex Maps 13. V. Bekker, A. Voronenko and I. Fomenko, Strategy and experience of housing construction, social servicing and social policy (paper presented at the Seminar in Experience of planning for sustainable development, Moscow, Russia, 2006). 14. Moscow International Portal, accessed February 25, 2012, territorial_authorities/ 15. Raymond Struyk, Contracting with NGOs for social services. Building civil society and efficient local government in Russia, (Moscow: The Urban Institute, 2003). 16. 17. Karine Clment, New Social Movements in Russia: A Challenge to the Dominant Model of Power Relationships? in Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 24, no. 1 (2008): 68. 18. Vihavainen, Homeowners Associations, 15. 19. Aleksey Levinson (Director for social and cultural research at Levada Center) in discussion with the author, February 2012. 20. YElena Shomina (Professor at Higher school of economics; Head of the Center for Housing Movements and community Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences) in discussion with the author, March 2012. 21. Yelena Shomina, Vladimir Kolossov, and Viktoria Shukhat. Local Activism and the Prospects for Civil Society in Moscow in Eurasian Geography and Economics 43, no.3 (2002): 250. 22. Marina Khrustaleva (Chairwoman of the Moscow Architecture Preservation Society, MAPS, and a member of coordinating council of the public movement Archnadzor) in discussion with the author, February 2012. 23. Ibid. 24. Shomina, Kolossov and Shukhat, 252. 25. Vihavainen, Homeowners Associations, 69. 26. Ibid., 46. 27. Ibid., 101.

28. Kvartirnyi riad, 17 November 2005 29. Vihavainen, Homeowners Associations, 100. 30. Ibid., 16. 31. Ibid., 35. 32. Aleksey Levinson, City Built and City Virtual: What is Moscow?, lecture at Strelka Institute, February 9, 2012. 33. Clment, 83. 34. Nat Chamayeva, e-mail message to author, February 18, 2012. 35. Raion Troparevo-Nikulino, accessed April 19, 2012, 36. Shomina, Kolossov and Shukhat, Local Activism, 253. 37. Mark Granovetter, The strength of weak ties: a network theory revisited, in Sociological Theory, vol.1 (1983): 209. 38. Ibid., 202. 39. Ibid., 209. 40. Ibid., 202. 41. Ibid., 224-225. 42. Mayo Fuster Morell, Mapping online creation communities: Models of infrastructure governance of collective action and its effects on participation size and complexity of collaboration achieved (PhD diss., European University Institute, 2010), 15. 43. Ibid., 4. 44. Ibid., 11. 45. Ibid. 46. Ibid., 12. 47. Ibid., 22. 48. Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software, Richard Stallman, accessed April 27, 2012, http://www.gnu. org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.en.html. 49. The Open Source Definition, version 1.9, Open Source Initiative, accessed June 9, 2012, http://www.opensource. org/osd.html 50. GNU General Public License, Version 3, 29 June 2007, GNU Operating System, accessed June 9, 2012, http:// 51. Eric S. Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, (OReilly Media, 2001), 2. 52. Ibid., 6. 53. Ibid., 7. 54. Ibid., 11. 55. Ibid., 23. 56. Ibid., 32. 57. Markus Miessen, The violence of participation. Spatial practices beyond models of consensus in Springerin, no.1 (2007): 2. 58. Ibid., 4.