For the new start of the school we chose the very famous ВГБИЛ building from 1966.
We started to analyse the main challenge of how to mix soviet cityscape of Moscow and
In Vienna we have the issue that we are most probably the best ranked city in the world,
out-dated cultural institutions, how to reinvent them through collaboration, how to reacti-
when it comes to quality of life and I am saying this as a warning on a very high level be-
vate the space and the building using the potentials which already exist and create a sort
cause we have the problem that a lot of our clients say: you don’t have to improve anything,
of cultural prototype and at the same time presents the whole image of avoided places as
you are so good already. So sometimes the limitations are at the degree of freedom of the
cool and trendy.
way we work. These studies are made by international organisations like the U.N. and are
kind of conservative rankings tied to safety, provision of public services and so on. For exam-
Surprisingly, many of the services on both the inside and outside of the MKAD (ring road
ple, with the Eco-City ranking we are not even in the top 10, but when it comes to quality of
around Moscow, borders of the city) are directly connected to the ring. Of its 336 exits in
life and having a good time in the city, we are top notch. However, we have many things to
total, 192 exits immediately lead to an enclave hosting different services. This condition is
absolutely unique in the world: compared to ring roads in cities like Beijing, Caïro, Paris,
and Washington DC, the MKAD on average has 14 times more direct exits per kilometre.
At Smarter Than Car we call ourselves an open source think-tank on bicycle urbanism and fu-
These type of exists symbolize the transformation of the MKAD from a road for improv-
ture urban mobility. Actually, we are acupuncture operating small group based in Beijing that
ing traffic circulation into an urban ring full of destinations. Over the last two decades, the
acts as the first bicycle advocacy group in China. When I first travelled to Beijing and got to
MKAD has become a post-Soviet city. Whereas life in the USSR was characterized by
know these people and started to work with them, I just found it fascinating that in China,
limited choice for consumption and restricted car ownership for the majority of people,
although we have the image that everyone is on bike, people have to fight hard for the right
MKAD City is all about cars and consumption. An eclectic mix of functions accommo-
to bicycle again.
date different lifestyles: the less well-off shop at the cheap Sadovod immigrant market,
We engaged in advocacy but soon we found out that in China this classic advocacy, going on
the middle class is served by IKEA stores and their MEGA shopping malls, and wealthy
the streets organising rides how we know it from here is not really working especially for
Muscovites go shopping at the luxurious Crocus City Mall. And everything in the mix is
very small groups… in China there is a saying: when you are small, authorities don’t care but
connected through a congested ring.
when you become big, they crash you. We don’t want to go the “being crushed” way, so we
Florian Lorez (Smarter Than Car/Plan Sinn, Vienna)
engage in urban research and try to create attention and recognition for the Chinese cycling culture internationally. Then we can make a contribution to it. In the ‘80s, there were 3 million people on bicycle in Beijing. We thought of how it can be possible that so many people are on bicycle without running into each other or driving across each other and then we started developing the concept of “negotiated flow”. It’s a concept where you don’t try to separate traffic to separated traffic space for different traffic users.
Digital version of our book about Skopje Creative Hub 2014 - new content in public space