History of architecture student researches postindustrial space in Russia

Phoebe Springstubb, a Ph.D. student in history of architecture, studied the transformation of postindustrial space in Russia’s capital of Moscow.

Phoebe did her internship with the Cultural Center ZIL. A former Soviet House of Culture, it’s been reinvented and turned into a multifunctional building that houses a library, theater, classrooms, exhibition and lecture halls, and school of dance. This experience confirmed her interest in pursuing Russia-related topics in her dissertation work and inspired her to incorporate new methodologies related to the use of oral history.

“I carried out largely self-directed research both onsite at ZIL and in several Moscow-based archives and libraries,” she explains. In particular, she looked into the urban fabric of the Danilovsky District of Moscow—the area around the Cultural Center which was once home to several vast automobile and machine-part factories and which is currently undergoing rapid development.

At the end of August, the research material gathered over the course of the internship was formatted as a public presentation—a “discussion-promenade”—held onsite in the Danilovsky district. This was a walking excursion open to the public.

“During the promenade, together with the curators of ZIL and a group of participants, we visited several historical buildings and sites throughout the neighborhood, stopping to give presentations on the different sites, followed by discussion and reflection on the industrial context and its contemporary transformation,” Phoebe says.

She admits that this was a unique experience. It inspired her to rethink the methodology for her doctorate research and make a better use of oral history.

An additional component of the research in Russia Phoebe is currently configuring into an article, which she plans to publish.