In Fall 2011, the students took an urban design studio with Alexander D’Hooghe, an associate professor at MIT, where they learned about the Russian disurbansim movement. The initial idea to do a research project in Moscow stemmed from this MIT experience.
Shay and Ho were specifically interested in the development history and current status of void space in Moscow – at various scales and typologies. In order to study void space in Moscow, they visited Cherkizovksy Market, that was liquidated in 2009, to document void space and its reuse as a new urban design typology for informal trade. As a result of their internship, the MIT students developed a close analysis of void space and a framework for small-scale stewardship of new public realm amenities to enhance public space in Moscow.
On the personal level, the project supported students’ advancement toward their goal to work at the intersection between planning and urban design and the regeneration of cities that are undergoing large-scale transformations. Shay and Ho noted that Russia and Moscow in particular are prime examples of places influenced by social, political, economic and physical shifts that alter the structural conditions of urban life.
This winter Shay and Ho’s project that they started through the MIT-Russia Program was included in the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture that took place on February 20-23, 2014 in Hong Kong.