Ugly and uglier: defining value and politics in architecture
Olga Sezneva & Anastasiya Halauniova (2021), Journal of Urban
Design, DOI: 10.1080/13574809.2021.1906635
What is beautiful or ugly about a building? How do people evaluate
urban environment? How do their evaluation relate to their ideas and
ideal bout public good, local identity, and good public
This paper offers answers to these questions and describes a novel
method for studying urban aesthetics, the Q-sort method. The analysis
shifts focus to valuation. The findings expand the idea of aesthetic
value as something not divorced from social order, but rather
reflective of its complexity.
text (open access)
Building the City Now!: Towards a Pedagogy for Transdisciplinary
E. Bosch, O. Sezneva, 2019, DOI:10.5821/jida.2019.8377Corpus ID:
This paper presents and discusses the unique experience of a training
program in urban design, directed by the authors, which facilitated an
exchange, integration and new advancement of the pedagogy and
knowledge of diverse fields concerned with the city: Building The City
Now! A joint effort between Catalan architects and Russian academia
and businesses with support from European experts, BCNow!’s first
edition became a training ground for fifteen Russian professionals and
activists from diverse backgrounds in Saint Petersburg in 2014-2015
seeking to explore an alternative understanding of the city and its
production in their practices. Based on the idea of
transdisciplinarity, the program was developed with a hands-on
approach. This paper reflects on the experience and lessons from
BCNow! contextualizing it in the existing traditions of urban
thinking, discusses the idea of transdisciplinarity by relating it to
comparable experiences, and zooms onto the specifics of the curriculum
providing concrete illustrations of the training and its outcomes.
What is "Urban Normality" and what we learned about it during the
Cities are once again at the centre of political public debate. Some
commentators cast them as threats to public health and social order.
Will there be a mass exodus accelerated by home working? Others
suggest that city living can be redeemed by small adjustments:
pedestrianising streets, altering zoning codes or rolling out new
‘smart’ technologies. Together with Urbanism & Participation at
European University at St. Petersburg, BCNow! held a round table.
Six experts — three architects and planners, and three social
scientists — met on Tuesday, 30 June 2020 to discuss ‘urban
normality’, the ‘normal’ that cities could and should offer. The
conversation gravitated towards three questions:
- What did we learn about normality under the lockdown?
- How did governments use and abuse the sense of normality that
- What lessons for professional designers and architects does the
pandemic offer as they work to create a normal, livable city?
The discussion was moderated by Olga Sezneva, an urban sociologist
from the University of Amsterdam and the co-director of BCNow!
The other participants were:
- Enric Massip-Bosch, architect and professor at UPC-BarcelonaTECH
and the co-director Building The City Now!
- Marguerite van den Berg, a sociologist from the University of
- Inés Aquilué Junyent, a regional planner from UPC-BarcelonaTECH
- Anastasiya Halauniova, a scholar and activist from the University
- Daniyar Yusupov, an urban planner who teaches at St. Petersburg
University of Architecture and Civil Engineering.
Urban Resilience in a City Facing the Challenge of Epidemic —
discussion #2 of ‘Is This Normal?’ series
What should we know and research about cities after the COVID
epidemic—to act professionally?
What should be understood, known about the cities and their ways of
life? What should we learn about the reactions of citizens to the
COVID epidemic and lockdown or other experienced measures—to let
finding proper solutions?
What questions do architects and urban planners want to ask—to get
answers that would help them to offer adequate solutions for the
organization of urban space, premises, urban life?
What are social scientists interested about and how could results of
their research be used by other professionals?
- Oleg Pachenkov, sociologist-urbanist, project coordinator at the
Center UP (urbanism & participation) at EUSP.
- Olga Sezneva (University of Amsterdam / BCNow!) —Urban
sociologist, author, educator.
- Thomas Boucher, architect, Praxys paysage & urbanisme, Paris
- Eduard Moreau, architect, Orchestra Design. Paris / St.Petersburg
- Alexei Novikov, economic & social geographer, Habidatum, New
York / Moscow,
- Varvara Kobyshcha, Laboratory of Urban Sociology, HSE Moscow
- Anna Temkina, sociologist, EUSP, St.Petersburg
- Alexandra Nenko, sociologist, Urban quality research lab (QLab) at
the Institute for Design and Urbanistic, ITMO, St.Petersburg.