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Workshop Branchpoint @ Strelka 2013 Open/Closed Cities Город как Открытая/Закрытая система 2-10 August 2013 Strelka School, Moscow 2-10 Августа 2013 Институт Стрелка, Москва

02- 05.08 Rob Stuart-Smith / Kokkugia 05- 10.08 Branchpoint Processing, VVVV, Grasshopper Mathrioshka / Вадим Смахтин, Эдуард Хайман U:Lab spb, Катя Ларина, Данияр Юсупов SimplexNoise, Александра Болдырева 10.08 Manuel Jimenez Garcia / m(a)dM








Workshop Open/ Closed Cities is a part of the ongoing research dealing with unique phenomenon of the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;closed citiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in the former Soviet Union, and explores how these cities might now be â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;openedâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; by contemporary approaches to urban landscapes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Closed citiesâ&#x20AC;? are built in an antiquated paradigm of scientific centers where research and research resources are programmed by the external order combined with a strict regime of isolation and lack of effective communication. They function as a non-adaptable â&#x20AC;&#x153;closed systemâ&#x20AC;? and therefore are highly dependent on external support. Workshop Challenge is to address questions of modelling the relationships and tensions between â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;closedâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;openâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; systems and the strategies and design decisions that may drive â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;top downâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;bottom upâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; operations of urban environment. Opposing simulation of top down driven strategies and potential emergence processes we are aiming to find the balance in the system, where bottom up initiatives will be able to re-catalyze the social economic life of the Closed city. Workshop participants attempted to answer the question: how the design of physical environment combined with modern media tools can become infrastructure that connects the city with the outside world in spite of the necessary physical isolation. Two teams: Media-landscape and Urban-landscape based on the topdown-bottom up dynamic model are going to design material and virtual networking infrastructure for the Closed city. This infrastructure has to drive the emergent processes in the city, and later can form an integrated city development strategy supported by local interests of the urban community. Workshop consisted of 2 main parts: // Kick off session with Rob Stuart Smith on development of prototypical model simulating emergence processes within an open system. (3 days) // With the help of the Branchpoint team on the basis of the prototypical model development of the dynamic urban strategy applicable to the context of the real Closed city Sverdlovsk#44 together with development of spatial and media strategy. (4 days)

Context Built during the cold war as a network of high security centres of research and production, “Closed cities” were typically enclosed by concrete walls and barbed wire, and known only by the code number that followed their ‘ZATO’ (Closed Territorial Formation’) designation. The ZATOs could not be found on any map or in any official records for five decades From the beginning closed cities embodied the idea of total isolation from the entire world for all their inhabitants. For this reason ZATOs had to represent the utopian ideal as a place to live and work. ZATOs were privileged places for the privileged few, especially when compared to other Soviet cities. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the closed cities were in a particularly difficult position. Due to new, and more volatile economic and political circumstances, many ZATOs were left without sufficient central control and without funding. This resulted in a significant loss of population and a period of stagnation in the ZATOs that had flourished (though secretively) throughout the years of the Cold War. Today, forty of these closed cities remain, scattered over the territory of contemporary Russia, and with an overall population of more than one million. Even today boundary walls delimit the ZATO’s and access to and from them is highly restricted. The threshold between the ZATO and the territory beyond is governmental and legislative, and defines distinct economic, social and psychological characteristics ZATO Sverdlovsk #44 is one of ten ‘atomic’ zone cities built solely to further the Soviet nuclear program. Created and controlled from “top down” already for 50 years, incapable to self-sustain, depending on not effective nuclear research and production industry and loosing 20-to 35 years old sector of population Sverdlovsk #44 became our prototype of the Closed system for this workshop.

Approach The ambition of the workshop is to construct and foster processes of “controlled emergence” that modify social and economic environment of the closed city allowing it to sustain itself and gradually reduce its dependence on total top-down control. The mechanism of the emergence modelling becomes a multi agent processing code, which has been developed for this workshop by Rob Stuart Smith (Kokkugia) in collaboration with Branchpoint team. Code simulates behavior and patterns of interaction amongst different types of agents and also lays out rules of evolution of types of agents within the next generations. The code represents a prototypical model of urban development of the territory, where agents perform as social groups, potential initiatives or financial groups which are responding to the local resources of the territory. This model allows dynamic testing of complex structure of interrelations within high numbers of actors of a social economic strategy in the physical context of the city. Learning from the modelling of emergence we aim to develop instruments that connect components sutch as urban policy, social network and urban design strategy on the basis of interactive interface. This interface becomes a tool for speculative development of the territory.

The multi agent prototypical model allows to monitor the effect of agent evolution in dynamic strategy troughout several generations. It also allows testing their vitality in the context of fluctuating resources. These resources depend on how fast initiatives are implemented and on the amount of energy within the closed system. Another challenge is to develop the material and informational infrastructures for the “controlled emergence”, aiming to warm up inactive environment of the closed system of ZATO#44 by initiating and maintaining bottom-up processes within social and production realm. We focus on physical and virtual public environment of the city where media and urban landscape initiatives can build up infrastructures for “controlled emergence”. Despite of isolated conditions of ZATO the intertwining media and urban landscape initiatives have to start up the processes of networking on different scales. Between the local community in the city, the local professional community and global professional community of outside world. The elements of the material and informational infrastructures have to construct the feedback loop between local processes and global urban strategy of the city in order to adapt and gradually evolve from Closed city to the Open city.

Optimum location of the green infrustructure element Diagram 1

x – external factor intensity, m – number of parameters for each agent с – the optimum value, r – radius of tolerance, Vmax – maximum speed of movable cellular automata

Recurrent neural network structure

Calculation of potential usage of the green infrustructure ellement Diagram 2

p - concentration of mobile agents a - mortality rate b - the survival rate

Simulation of the model in Processing

*Model is based on priciples of “Law of minimum” (Leibig, 1840), or “Law of physiological relations”

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Group1 ‘Reflexive networks’- Pavel Ermachenko, Anastasiya Bloshinskaya, Elena Hasyanova, Ruslan Timashev, Alan Gibilov Project address the multi-dimensional optimization problem by describing the mechanisms of clustering of movable cellular automata, in accordance with the laws of the formation of ecological niches in nature.* Movable cellular automata method is a method in computational solid mechanics. It provides advantages both of classical cellular automaton and discrete element methods. This mechanism has been used to discover the most efficient urban strategy for local green economy (its spatial distribution and phasing) driven by the potential bottom up forces which could be discovered even within the context of the closed city. This mechanism has been simulated as multi agent system code. Firstly project identifies series of maps representing parameters which describe the behavioral rules of each agent. Numerous components of the green economy strategy each has a specific requirements to the context and specific interrelations within each other. Secondly, project define the ranges of tolerance, since not only drawback , but an excess of any external resource can be harmful for urban object (organism, population). Also project draw the mathematical function of success of the agents, which represents the speed of motion of “movable cellular automata” agents of the 1st and 2nd order, and life length of agents of the 3rd order. In application to the project agents of the 1st order are aiming to find hidden potential of the territory to create the elements of green infrastructure (local interest, avaliable site, etc); clusters of related potentials represents agents of the 2nd order; agents of 3rd order are element of green infrastructure, such as urban gardens, hydroponics, markets etc. Entering the region with optimal conditions mobile agents of the1st order stop (Diagram 1). Agents of the 2nd order appear when the concentration of mobile cellular automata of 1st-order exceeds its critical mass, meeting the initiatives which can create sufficient ecology within a cluster of potentials agents of 2nd order evolve to the agents of the 3rd order - stationary elements of green infrastructure. Lifetime of re-emerging urban objects determined by the intensity of their use, which itself is determined by the number of mobile agents in their neighborhood (Diagram 2).

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stage 1 / 1st order agents

stage 3 / location of 2nd order agents

stage 2 / agregation of 1st order agents and creation of 2nd order agents

stage 4 / creation of 3rd order agents

Group2 â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;On-off-lineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; - Olesya Ababkova, Liza Korshunova, Liza Dorrer, Misha Sinuhin, Serezha Lubashin The intention of the project was to develop a strategy able to support local bottom-up business initiatives, by means of constructing the virtual and physical infrastructure of local business incubators. This infrastructure meant to become the informational, educational and networking space. The specific socioeconomic conditions of the Closed city, such as the slow process of registration of local business and low activity of the local community are preventing the development of local business projects, which would allow the city to build a self sufficient economy. The group analyzed all online offers of Sverdlovsk#44 within a social network, related to the local business initiatives. Then they composed a list of vital combination of the existing offers and missing initiatives which would be able to receive private, state and city government funds. list of online offers


modelling system

searching for the most potential project

project materialisation

growth of off line business incubators network


agents 1 order existing business offes on-line

agents 2 order

optimal location of projects within urban environment

creating agents of 3rd order

clusters of projects

locations avaliable to place start up projects

creating new buisneses projects


The project developed an algorithm able to select vital combinations of online trade and service offers. Also the group developed the prototype of the webpage able to take into consideration accessibility and resources of the territory; select the most promising groups of projects and then place them within suitable context of the city, using some sort of google street view interface. This web page would guide and educate the local business community, where they can see the most perspective business initiatives and also can see the visualization of potential future projects, what is continuously updating according to new upcoming local businesses. The Web page with embedded strategy for local businesses is becoming a powerful feedback instrument. The instrument capable to collect data, visualize the potentials, influence the local entrepreneurs and in the same time guide the city authorities.

existing business activity in social network space

website prototype

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information warm up emergence of interest buisness training

materialisation of on-line business startups

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Group2 ‘Media framework’ - Vladimir Voronich, Katya Zaechkova, Artem Gilmanov, Petrosyan Arevik, Yura Izmailov The project is aiming to bridge capacities of the knowledge industry of the “Atomic” city Sverdlovsk #44 and creative initiatives, what means to develop the common ground of interaction between the professional community and active urban community. Another challenge of the project is to raise the grade of involvement of citizens into the life of the city and build the network to support the local cultural and research initiatives. Rules of the processing code have been set up in a way, to find the most rational location of the hybrid projects. When hybrid projects are bridging potential resources of the initiatives to areas of low active social environment of the city. The most efficient spatial and time arrangement of the network of initiatives has been tested within a different amount of energy-capital, density of projects and different time length of the strategy.

heating up the inactive environment of the closed system

1\ primary agents representing potential different types of local projects atrracted by research industry and educational centers

2\ clustering of projects, collaboration into the multydisiplinar initiative

3\ attraction to the closest zone of low public activity

As a kick start initiative, which have to construct the primary network of hybrid projects and heat up the interest of the active urban community, an urban game has been proposed. Urban game calls any citizen to upload online photos they took standing in front of the one of the proposed background installation. This kind of background installations is situated in the key points of the most effective locations of the projects, defined by the simulation of the urban strategy. Each of the photograph constitutes the pixel of the most active participant of urban game. The background is assembled from the modules which later can become the urban furniture.

urban game / urban portrait/ emergence of the interest to inactive locations in the city

agrigation process

varaety of components

calculation of the popularity rate from accessibility, social network rating nad comfort map

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Group4 ‘Public connectivity’ - Alik Sunin, Evgeniya Gatsolaeva, Alexey Melnikov, Anna Blinova, Katya Popova Closed city is facing the problem of loss of young and active population, together with that there is an increase of alienation within a local community. Through many years a state corporation manages the development of the city and citizens never was involved into the decision making procedures related the city development and never felt responsible to their city. Another problem is low intensity of use and abundance of public spaces. The project is aiming to involve citizens (especially the young one) into the decision making process related to the development of public spaces and start up the discussion amongst the citizens of how they would like to see the city they are living in. The project intends to initiate an urban game. This urban game invites local citizens to aggregate the temporary light installation from the “voting” led light bricks. Each color of the brick represents the project city offers to the local community, for example: playground, seating area, library-pavilion or canopy. Each project is also going to be made of the set of components in order to stay flexible to the community needs. Emergence simulation allowed for the team to find locations of potential action points in the city within future stages of the development of the projects; agents represent different social groups in order to set up the hypothetical list of projects sitisents will be interested to vote for; the behavior of agents has been described by the parameters of accessibility, comfort map and activity in social networks.

PHASE 2 Canopy 70% PHASE 3 Pavilion 65%

PHASE 1 Benches 80%

PHASE 4 Playground 52% public space created by voting urban game

Tutors:: Robert Stuart-Smith is a Design Director and a Founding Partner of Kokkugia. Robert teaches at the AA where he is a Studio Course Master in the AA.DRL. He has previously taught at RMIT University (Australia), the University of East London (UK), and is an internationally invited lecturer and critic. Robertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s research focuses on self-organisational systems and developmental growth, pursuing qualitative building life cycle design affects that are polyvalent and environmentally responsive.


Katya Larina, Daniyar Yusupov U:lab.spb is a group of architects and urban planners founded by Katya Larina and Daniyar Yusupov. Since 2009 research/education project U:Lab.spb engages in research on urbanism and introduction of computation and new design methods able to deal with complex systems into urban strategies and architectural design practice. Both currently are invited lecturers, experts and tutors in varaety of programmes, such as Strelka (Moscow), AA LU (UK), DUE and SpbGASU (St-Petersburg)


Vadim Smahtin , Eduard Haiman Vadim and Eduard are founders of the Mathrioshka creative community. Mathrioshka - laboratory, where we constantly research new forms and applications of interactive technologies inside the real and virtual spaces. Their main research interest is integrating parametric technologies as a universal means of communication within teams as part of the design process. Eduard Haiman is architect and founder of Branchpoit community


Alexandra Boldireva Architect and founder and director of studio Simplex noise. Co-founder of school of Digital design (Moscow) Alexandra in her teaching and design plactice is focused on instruments of advanced desigh and programming. Alexandra runs and organises traning courses on Grasshopper in many cities in Russia. Also a co-founder of Branchpoint community.

Experts:: Manuel Jimenez Garcia, lecturer and an expert Manuel Jimenez Garcia is currently Unit Master of MArch Unit 18 at â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The Bartlett School of Architectureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; with Ricardo de Ostos and Nannette Jackowski and Programme Director at the AA Visiting School Madrid, he use toteach at â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Architectural Association Design Research Lab (DRL)â&#x20AC;&#x2DC; (London), where he develops his research in self-organisation and material computationing code has been set


Stanislav Roudavski, lecturer and an expert As an architect, artist, researcher and lecturer, Stanislav Roudavskiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s focus is on technologically sustained places. His current practice-based research integrates organizational techniques of architecture, unpredictability and richness of performative situations, creative capacities of computing, visual languages of the moving-image arts, dramaturgy and spatial narrative. He has taught and worked on research projects at the University of Cambridge, MIT and the University of Melbourne.

Branchpoint community

Branching point - independent educational and research initiative aiming to discover new ways of integration of computation and architectural and urban design practices . Created in 2010 Branching point is networking like-minded initiatives, creative teams , events and activities in Russia . Branch point involved various creative groups in Russia such as U: lab.spb, Digital Bakery, Paralab, Mathrioshka, play (marhicomp), Workshopper, Hiteca and many other in Russia and abroad. It is already over a dozen workshops, exhibitions and over two dozen of lectures has been organized in different cities of Russia. Since 2010 Branchpoint is always a part of the program Summer on Strelka in Moscow.














Open closed city Branchpoint @ Strelka 2013  
Open closed city Branchpoint @ Strelka 2013  

Branch point @ Strelka Aug 2013 Moscow Workshop Open/ Closed Cities Moderators:: Rob Stuart -Smith (Kokkugia); Katya Larina and Daniyar Yusu...