Points of Destination. Part I: The Trianon Dialogues
08.04.2019

The first quarter of 2019 turned out to be one of the most “mobile” periods for quite some time. For me it was the beginning of the new term and time to go on two trainings on working with classified information and on integrated safety and security of educational institutions. In March, I went for several international business trips. The first one was to France, where I attended the MIPIM Awards 2019 exhibition in Cannes, which was one of the events on the program of the Trianon Dialogues, the Russian and French civil society forum. The name of the Forum refers to the village of Trianon, where one of the Versailles Palaces was built in the 17 century. In 2017, Vladimir Putin and Emanuel Makron had a meeting there and initiated the Trianon Dialogue forum aimed at developing relationships in education, science, and other spheres of culture between Russia and France.

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2019 is devoted to education, that is why almost all events of the Trianon forum were somehow connected with education, including the annual MIPIM exhibition, the world’s leading property market. This year, its theme was “Engaging the Future”. As we know, architects and digital communication experts pay a lot of attention to such platforms as university campuses today. Campuses are places, where the boldest ideas may be realized and the most state-of-the-art technologies can be implemented. As a result, campuses become unique places in terms of landscape design, They attract enrollees and visiting professors from all over the world.

The opportunity to see the world’s experience in campus placemaking was one of the factors that influenced my plans to go to France. Another important factor that made me go there was the invitation from Anatoly Torkunov, Rector of MGIMO University who co-chaired the Trianon Dialoque discussions. TSU signed 21 agreements with 17 French universities, which is more then any other Russian university has. It automatically makes us one of the communication channels between Russia and France. This is another reason why I was invited to visit Cannes this year. The RANEPA coordinates the Russian-French network university and TSU is going to become a part of the structure.

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It was a short two-day visit for me but I visited a lot of places, including the panel discussions in the Palais des Festivals de Cannes and the campus of University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. We worked with the Moscow government. Russian and French hosts and guests visited each other’s pavilions. Two sessions took place in our pavilion. Those were “Big Paris – Big Moscow: The Dialogue Continues” and “The Future Metropolis: How To Built Modern City Districts”. We discussed the projects “Big Paris” and “Big Moscow”, new approaches to developing urban infrastructure, building, working with the environment, and so on. Maurice Leroy, French expert who currently works in Russia, said that the Big Moscow project has a great potential and impressive results.

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I was especially impressed by the presentation from Sergey Kuznetsov, the Chief Architect of Moscow. He argued that the modern city planning must be carried out, according to the common senses instead of insolation, fire, and other types of instructions. Life shows that those norms get obsolete very fast and do not meet people’s needs and perception. The space logic must subject to human behavior. In other words, city planning must be focused on real people, not artificial instructions. I believe that we must use this approach when planning campuses. We still hope that one day it will be understood and accepted by those who do not let us develop our campus because of obsolete requirements to public placemaking.

200 from 58 countries projects were presented at the MIPIM exhibition. Russia came with the Zaradye Interactive Park project.

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It was short-listed in the Best Project on City Space Reconstruction nomination, along with the eco-park project from Chángchūn (China), the National Art Center project from Gāoxióng (Taiwan), and the Frankfurt Historical Center project (Germany). The Russian project won a special prize from the jury for the first time in the history of MIPIM. It was a very important achievement that hopefully will not be the only one. By the way, such comparatively small countries as the Netherlands and Spain presented three projects each. France presented six, projects, China and Germany came with 5 projects, Great Britain brought four.

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A seminar on planning university campuses and university cooperation took place at the forum. The strategy on developing educational and recreational spaces for students was presents.

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We discussed issues on training staff for new programs in engineering and campus planning in Russia and France, as well as other mutual educational programs.

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Here are several conclusions I came to after having visited France:

1)     The world’s community is focused on the topic of developing metropolises as attractors for new residents.

2)     The discussion of campus planning is still far from being interdisciplinary. Architects, ecologists, and designer are those who make key decisions in planning and developing university campuses.

3)     University campus renovation is an important factor of commercialization and image positioning on the international educational market.

4)     The main target audience of campus development projects is students who prefer large creative spaces. Professors’ interests and needs in personal spaces are sidelined.

5)     Our research approach and deep understanding of how campus spaces are supposed to be planned and organized allow us to see how to satisfy students’ needs and meet their expectations in the near future. We really know how to transform our university in accordance with the challenges of the Digital Age.

Our main goal is to put our knowledge into practice despite all obstacles and difficulties!