In 2016-17 UrbanLab Armenia and Boghossian Gardens in cooperation with the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation implemented the project Re-Think Metsamor.
Metsamor is a “new” town located 45 km west of capital city Yerevan. The town was built for workers of Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant designed by architect Martin Mikaelyan who worked at ArmGosProject (ArmStateProject) in 1970’s. The project is peculiar for the fact that the same studio designs both the Master plan of the town and most of the structures built, including residential, public and commercial typologies. By the time that Sptiak earthquake happened in 1988 only the western part of the town was built, and later when the Nuclear Power Plants was shut down the construction of the town was abandoned altogether. Today the Power Plant works by covering around 40% of nation’s demand, by being on the rare energetic sources owned by the state. It in spite of being a town-formation feature as the main employment generator, meanwhile there is a common jeopardy for the existing power plant’s security and proposal for building a new plant in the same area.
The goal of the Re-Think Metsamor project was to establish a collaborative research of planners and visual artists on urban “history” of singular example of Soviet modernism - Metsamor town and Nuclear Power Plant located in the area (both built in 1970’s) and also post-Soviet development of the urban environment, with a special focus on social obstacles caused by environmental fears and challenges.
During the project following activities were carried out:
- Research of the Metsamor's original design proposal thorough study of the archives at Armenian National Archive, ArmProject design institution, Architect Mikaelyan's family archives and interviews with the family members, number of interviews in Metsamor and Yerevan
- Digitalizing all available material on Metsamor architecture and city development, the original documents collected during the project and digitalized material will be given to National Museum-Institute of Architecture;
- Preparation of a bilingual (Armenian and English) publication on meta urban layers of Metsamor town based on carried research;
- Publication presentation and Panel discussion on modern urban heritage of Armenia, with a particular attention on Metsamor and the carried research;
- Open-air exhibitions in Yerevan and Metsamor to promote the heritage and highlight Metsamor’s importance as a heritage site.