Russia has a high proportion of vacant buildings and spaces, which call for reinvention and reintegration. Not only abandoned industrial plants, but also empty churches, historic mansions, and hotels dot the landscape. Empty building shells reflect a changed economic structure. The situation is familiar to many countries in the world, but particularly endemic to Russia, which endured multiple social cataclysms in the 20th century.
Post-industrial spaces are commonly seen as havens for creative industries, which cannot afford to rent space at commercial rates. However, different situations require different solutions. The sheer quantity of empty spaces, the variety of typologies and scales, the unequal artistic merit of the architecture, imply a need for a variety of approaches and tools to return disused objects and spaces into the economic cycle.
Besides serving as art spaces, old buildings can also serve traditional functions such as industrial production, housing, and education. The main obstacle to receiving support from the federal, regional and municipal authorities is the lack of a methodology for comparing and choosing from among the possible scenarios.
In light of these challenges, the Union of Architects of Russia exhibits a selection of projects for the adaptive reuse of former industrial zones and other under-utilized spaces. Embracing a variety of approaches, the exhibition highlights projects at different stages of implementation. Curated by Jemal Surmanidze, Andrey Asadov, and Nikita Asadov, New Industries shows the potential for rethinking and remaking urban areas. Russian cities are learning to use their main resources – space and human capacity – and to learn from international experience. The exhibit is thus conceived as a place of reflection and discussion on the past and future of Russian cities.