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Valeria Laura Szegal

MA work

Theatricality: A Muscovite Scene

The project proposes a staged performance of a play in a public square located along Moscow’s Garden Ring. The aim of the project is to explore the transformative potential of theatre stage set design when placed in an urban context.

On one hand, the proposal is about staging a play in the context of an event that would only take place annually as part of Moscow’s cultural scene. On the other, it is about improving this public space that was once a row of beautiful gardens and is now left as a huge major highway in the centre of Moscow.

Coming from a Russian family, I visited Moscow many times. It always struck me as a vast, mysterious place, very different in character from my hometown of Budapest. The twelve-lane carriage way running through my site, which I encountered with shock as an eight-year-old, wasn’t always this way. The Garden Ring underwent centuries of redevelopment that mirrored the political agenda of the time. Today, it is a leftover testament to Soviet city planning and architecture. It is a highway that embraces the centre of Moscow with its ten to eighteen lane traffic and colossal Stalinist buildings that remain standing as monuments to the past regime and are now surrounded by mundane buildings of the post-Soviet, capitalist era. The scale of this road and its traffic completely obliterated and distorted any sense of legible human scale in the urban fabric and created a divided net of segregated urban blocks.

The project proposes to use one of the fifteen public squares that are located along the ring road as a site for the theatrical event. I am proposing to introduce permanent platforms and bridges to the site, which in the context of the event act as stages and viewing platforms for the play, whilst – when the play is not on and there is no action – they can be used as public spaces in a useful and meaningful way. So, it is about bringing back some of the historical uses of the square with an aim to re-establish a human connection with an alienated piece of infrastructure.

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Architecture

    Programme

    MA Architecture, 2019

  • Valeria has been exploring city scale architecture both in her degree and professional practice, with her thesis project raising questions around the transformative potential of theatre in the urban condition of Moscow.
  • Degrees

  • BA Architecture, Manchester School of Architecture, 2016