Uninterrupted Current. Activate the Campus

2 Mar–13 Nov 2019
Lefortovo campus of MPEI National Research University

At different periods, many graduates of Moscow Power Engineering Institute (MPEI, currently named MPEI National Research University) came to work at the former GES-2 power plant on Bolotnaya Embankment, the former site of the GES-2 House of Culture. The project Continuous Currents is an attempt to answer the questions posed by the emergence of an art institution on the site of a power plant with a century-long history. Can culture become as necessary to the city as the thermal power and electricity generated by hydroelectric power plants? How does the process of cultural production have to change in order to do so?

GES-2. The Opera directed by Vsevolod Lisovsky is dedicated to these topics, as well as to the problems of historical continuity, memory and  preservation of heritage. Its premiere takes place on May 25-26 in the Constructivist building of the MPEI campus. In the second part of the Continuous Currents project, the MPEI students are offered to design and create new public spaces for meetings, talks and other events on the grounds of the institute.

This approach to design is based on participatory principles — in particular, the method of participatory design, where local residents collaborate with professionals from the moment of the idea’s inception to the construction stage. The students of the MPEI and the residents of Lefortovo will be aided in their plans by the team at Project Group 8 and the Park workshop. Together, they will determine the exact location and functional content of the space, as well as make design and technological decisions.

Created in the 1940s, the student campus of the MPEI National Research University, in addition to the dormitories, includes its own house of culture, a swimming pool, canteens, academic buildings, sports grounds, an ambulance, and a scientific and technical library. This complex is integrated within the residential sector of the Lefortovo district, which at times has lead to conflicts with local residents. Finding an option that suits everyone involves dialogue, ability to convey one's values to the others, as well as ability to make joint decisions.

The experience of participatory design is extremely important for the future work of the GES-2 House of Culture because in many respects it will base on the involvement of visitors in the cultural production process.

Project Group 8 is an interdisciplinary team of specialists in architecture, design, marketing and urban studies. Its key specialization is participatory design and the involvement of local residents in the improvement of public spaces.

Moscow Power Engineering Institute (MPEI National Research University), previously known as the Moscow Energy Institute, is one of the leading Russian universities in the field of energetics, electrical engineering, radio engineering, electronics, IT and engineering management. It has been training specialists since 1930. The university consists of 12 institutes, 65 departments, 176 research laboratories, as well as a pilot production plant, a unique educational and experimental thermo-electric power plant, and a huge scientific and technical library. Around 15,000 students study at MPEI and its branches, and 1,300 staff work there.