MURMANSK GARAGES: The traditional russian garages have become a big part of Murmanskcity, both in the visible and invisible sense. Visible because it takes up a big part of the city arealand it is a part of peoples daily lives and invisible because it is a part of the city identity andpeoples mindset and traditions.The city planners in Murmansk are planning to remove big clusters of garages and building highparking houses to densify the city and get room for other uses. A common zeitgeist today is thatthe garages are out of date and taking too much city space.So, are the old garages worth keeping? In that case, how and is there a way of keeping themeaning of the garages in another way than keeping the garages?
Today, the garages cover a huge part of the city areal. Most of them are placed on theoutskirts of the city center, near apparment blocks.
Plan by the Murmansk municipality showing where newparking houses are going to be built. All of them are on the siteof the old garage lots.Many other existing garage areas are replaced with other uses,such as sportcenter and new appartment areas.
Russian garage culture Many russian men, espesially those of Murmansk has a di erent relationship with their garages than most other places in the world. For them, it is not only a place to put their cars and store equipment, but also a place to spend time with their hobbies, meet friends and get away from their wives for a while.
“This city is not built for people, it’s built for the industry. Can we change the view on our city to make it more human?” Photo: Iwan Thomson "It is strange that behind all these doors, inside all these garages without windows, there is so much going on, like its a secret society." "The men spend a lot of time there, repairing their cars andPhoto: Iwan Thomson talking politics or gossiping." "When a car has been repaired they celebrate. It is a tradition to eat home-made pickles and drink vodka, so in most garages there is a good store of supplies." -Russian womanPhoto: Iwan Thomson
HISTORYin 1970s Soviet people were rapidly starting to own cars. They lovedtheir cars, which was a privately owned possession. They would notlet anything happen to them; therefore they built the garages.They also needed a place for the car during the snowy winter.They all repared their cars themselves and this was probably the mainreason why the garages have gone from car storage to warm “secondhomes”.All the garages that were built during the Soviet era were built byhand, by the people themselves.People seldom x the cars themselves anymore; they have changedcars from Volgas and Ladas for other brands. Due to loss in populationmany garages stands empty today.Today the prices of land are rising drastically in the city centre ofMurmansk. There are many interested parties wanting land. Thegarages of Murmansk are under high pressure and will soon be gone.Some have been protesting, but most people just let it happen; theyalso think the garages are out of date.
Environmental e ects on nature and societyThey e ect a big eld of land because of the horizontal place-ment in the landscape, but they do not explode ground or boreinto the ground; when removed the nature will after a whilereturn to its original state. The materials used to build are oftenleftover materials they nd in the city, so there has been no needfor new material production.The mere reason that they are home made and private mayin uence the russians to take more care of the building and thesurroundings?What is more environmental; the garages or a parkinghouse? Garage Wars There have been some social con icts in Moscow about the same type of garages. In 1999 there was an article in “The guardian” called “Russian garage wars heating up”. It told about russians putting up illegal garages on public properties. Someone even put them up in playgrounds for kids. This was a big frustration to others. The ne if you do this is quite low, and noone really has the right to remove them. The reason why people do this is because the lack of available land and a long process through the municipality to get hand of one: One russian said” - one begins feeling some sympathy for a potential garage owner. Getting clearance to put one up would take months and probably several bribes.” She lists the various committees that would have to give permission. As she runs through them - the garage committee, the re service, the ecological committee, the utilities committee (in case the garage is plonked on top of an underground pipe or cable) and the borough chairman "Younger Russians understand that you must have some environmental controls," Dodonov says. "The older generation remembers the disciplined past. But the middle group just insists on their property rights and refuses to compromise. “Sometimes this really do happen”, Dmittri Borovkov
GARAGE TYPOLOGIES; towards a new garage architecture.Typically self-made single Many garages in one. Not Parkinghouses with severalgarage, selfmade and usually not as oors. These often still haveHigh level of personality. personal. private garages with locks on them , but they don´t contain the social aspect.
INTERVIEW WITH YULIATYPOLOGIES: In `Ufa´ there were many garages like the ones in Murmansk 10 years ago. Today they are moved and parkinghouses with several oors has replaced them to use the space better. The parking houses still have private ´garages¨ insidethem. People have their own door with a lock to their garage. But these garages are not so much for hanging out, but morefor storing things and placing their cars.ECONOMY: They are very expensive; half the price of a small appartment. People have better credit now and therefor havemore cars. Many people buy and sell garages for a pro t; they get cheap garages through their rm.DEMOGRAPHY: My brother has a garage of the new kind, and my grandfather had a typical old one. They use it mainly forstorage. Everyone knows someone that has a garage. It is typical to get a garage when you are 20-30 years old. There are bothold and young people using them side by side, but I don´t think there is much interaction between them. The typical socialkind of garages you see in Murmansk is more typical for smaller comunities. They don¨t have that many places to go andmeet. They also need the garages more because of the of the cold. If parked outside, their appartments would be snowed inpretty quickly.WOMEN AND YOUTH; OTHER USES: Not many women use them but there propably are some. I had my own places for developing myhobbies both as a kid and as a youth; I had a workshop together with 7 other students when I went to architecture school. Inever wanted a garage. But I do have a romantic feeling about the garages. My boyfriend loved his garage, and we used togo there together, listening to music and such. The bigger the city is, the younger are the people using the typical oldgarages. In my city there are many young mucisians practising in the garages. They are also being used as workshops andexhibition areas for artists. There are many nightclubs in russia called ´garage´.SPACE, STRUCTURE AND ESTETICS: For russians the garages are not special, they don´t see it as an interresting phenomenon, andthey also don´t think they are very good looking. The only reason they had painted their garages in di erent colours isbecause they have used the colour they had available. You might think they are interresting, but russians have a di erentperception of beauty.SURROUNDING LANDSCAPE: The old city is ususally systematic stalin buildings. The garage clusters are usually placed close tonewer concrete blocks in the periphery of the city. Personally I do think the building consept, how they are placed togetherin clusters, are exciting.
INTERVIEW WITH IGOR SHAYTANOV1. Er bruken av garasjen som ´et arbeids- og oppholdssted´ en gammel tradisjon i Russland?Den første bilproduksjon ble etablert i Russlad av FORD rett etter revolusjon. Men det er bare på 50-talle biler kom tilmassmarkede. Før det var i brukt bare av militara og de største partiarbeiderne.Så det var bom på 60-70 talle. Industrialiseringen har nettopp foregikk i Sovjet, og det var masse nye folt i byene. Bilenede begynte å eie hadde forferdelig kvalitet, å måtte reparerres heletida.Da tilbringte mannfolk masse tid der. Tradisjon går ut derfra, tror jeg.2. Sånn som jeg har forstått det, er det vanlig å ha sosiale sammenkomster i garasjene. Stemmer dette, og er det vanlig å´gå på besøk´hos naboene når de er i garasjen sin, sånn at garasje-området blir et sted der man også møter bekjente ognye folk?Ja det stemmer. Som vanlig garasjene tilknyttet til nabobolig (Mikrorajon). I det samme tid nabobolig tilknyttet til et ellerannet industri. Så folk kjenner hverandre i prinsipp. Men det ytter inn nye heletida.3. De garasjene vi så var malt i forskjellige farger utenpå, og den garasjen vi gikk inn i var innredet med personligegjenstander og pynt. Er den garasjen vi var inne i representabel for hvordan de andre garasjene så ut? Er det viktig forgarasje-eierne å lage sitt personlige preg på garasjen, noe som ikke er så lett i blokkene de bor i?Garasjen vi så var veldig representabelt. Det som gjelder farger og inventar, tror jegikke handler om kunst eller identitet. De brukte sikkert den malinga og de materielerman hadde tilgang til.4. Er det bare menn som har garasjer? Vet du hva kvinnene synes om de? Har de (kvinnene) et alternativ til mennenesgarasje, hvor de kan dyrke interesser og være sosiale?Damene deltar på sosiale sammenkomster i garasjene, det nnes sikkert damer somhar egen garasje. Men ellers kvinners sted er kjøkkenet.5. Hva er ditt forhold til disse garasjene? Har du et posititvt forhold til dem, har du tilbrakt mye tid i sånne garasjer selv ogisåfall hva gjorde du der?Kjenner du mange som har garasjer?Så klart at denne tradisjon begynner å forsvinne. Det er ikke så mange som driver meddette i min generasjon. Ikke jeg heller. Jeg har vært et par ganger på slike party men vil ikke si at jeg har spesieltpositiv forhold.6. Er det vanskelig å få tak i en garasje? Har de este kjøpt dem eller laget dem selv? Hvis de har laget dem selv, har de
kjøpt tomten, eller bare funnet en ledig kommunal plass å sette den opp?De este har fått tomten under sovjettida. Da var det gratis. Nå kjøper man entet en tomt eller en garasje. Jeg tror mestparten av de garasjene vi så selvlaget. Men det er mulig å leie inn arbeidskraft.Du kan ikke bygge garasje hvor som helst, hvis der er det du spør.7. Jeg leste en artikkel om noen som hadde satt opp en garasje på en lekeplass til stor fortvilelse for beboerne inærområdet. Er det vanlig at det oppstår sånne problemer?Nei det er uvanlig. Jeg har aldri hørt om det. Det kan godt skje i Moskva eller St. Peterburg, men det handler ommarginalismet.8. Kommer du til å savne garasjene hvis de forsvinner? Er det noe du ville gjort for å forandre/forbedre garasjesituasjonen?Nei, jeg kommer ikke til å sanve dem. Helt klart. Jeg er veldig glad i Hi-Tec, så hvisdet blir noe annet istedenfor garasjene, jeg er med. Det eneste er at jeg er mot åmiste nasjonalidentitet. Garasjene en del av vår hverdagskultur. Så jeg mener atdenne saken bør tas forsiktig.9. Yulia sa at i Ufa har noen ungdomer tatt ibruk noen av garasjene, og bruker dem som verksted og øvingslokale oggalleri for kunst. Har du hørt om dette i Murmansk, eller er garasjene stort sett forbeholdt bil-interreserte menn?Vi har en del garasje-rock kultur over alt i Russland. Det er litt upraktisk å brukegarasjen som et galeri i Murmansk. Men jeg har hørt om at noen maler dem utenpå.
10. Tror du russerne som eier garasjene komme til å protestere hvis garasjene blir ernet? Vet du om garasje-eierne får noe tilbake når garasjene deres blir revet? Kanskje de ytter de til et annet sted?Vi har et spesielt form av demokrati i Russland, så det er ganske sikkert at noen kommer til å protestere menjeg er litt usikkert at det påvirker noe. Så klart de får noe tilbake, det er jo eiendommen nå. Myndighetene kanikke erne noe uten å spørre eiere.11. Hva synes du, har de tradisjonelle garasjene noen verdi? Ifølge Yulia har de nye parkeringshusene ogsåpersonlige garasjer inni seg, men disse brukes kun til oppbevaring av bil og utstyr, og ikke til å reparere ogsosialt samvær. Finnes det andre steder man kan gjøre disse tingene? Vil det å drikke vodka på en bar noengang bli det samme som å drikke vodka i garasjen? ;)Nei det blir ikke det samme. Men kulturfenomen forsvinner og neste generasjon skalsikkert bruke garasjene på den vanlig måte. Så det vil si at de har verdi i kul-turhistorisk og antropologisk aspekt som et fenomen. Men ikke noe praktiskverdi i denne sammenheng.Russian garage rock culture 25. og 26. april i år arrangerte Priroda i Moldezh (PiM) en festival for å vise sin motstand mot bruken av atomkraft. Over 300 russiske ungdommer besøkte festivalen, som var den første av sitt slag i Murmanskre- gionen.In my city there are many young mucisians practising in the garages. They are also being used as workshops andexhibition areas for artists. There are many nightclubs in russia called ´garage´.
CHAOS VERSUS STRUCTURE, stable vs exible, closure vs openness “This chaos and instability, which is fundamental, founding and irreducible, is at once naturally the worst against which we struggle with laws, rules, conventions, politics and provivional hegemony, but at the same time it is a chance, a chance to change, to destablize. Chaos is at once a risk and a chance” Derrida 1996 Structure in Chaos/ Thrown-togetherness: Flexible In constant change Human scale Density Indiviual and unique“Architecture can avoid the traps of prescriptive formmaking whilst releasing the potentials of the INCOM-PLETE, of the yet-to-be” Andrew Benjamin 1999“He wanted to create spaces where you might come upon the unexpexted, have chance encounters (that mixtureof order and accident which, as we have seen, he called labyrinthe clarity”. Doreen Massey of Aldo Van Eyck
New forms appear by this kind of thrown- togerherness. Voids are lled in and densi es the city. Unthought of shapes appear. “Disorder can, of course produce variety, excitement and its own hit-and-miss beauty. ..those of us who cannot abide supermarkets ... love the messy vitality of street markets”.Static, closed and “industrial scale”. Flexible, human scale, each one unique and has carracter, in constant change.
TIME-SPACES-They take up a huge part of the city areal.-There is an interrest in densifying the city center.-They sometimes bring con icts (the garage wars), andthe area around/nature gets ruined.-The russians see them as a part of their history and identity ans som garage owners protest against removing them, but mostrussians think that they have outplayed their role and that it is time for something new to replace them.Most russians don´t see any architectural value in them. So why on earth should they think about keeping them?The socio-garages we see today are full of soul and have been very meaningful to many russians, but they are part of a timethat is now vanishing. Shouldn´t we just let this happen? If there is need for more space in the city, shouldnt we just buildparking houses and go on?Or maybe there is away of making the social meaning of the garages live on without the garages? Could the social life of thegarages be moved somewhere else? The bar? Does the architecture of the garages have any meaning without the historicalsocial content?Based on the mapping I have done, I think yes.However, this raises tons of new quesitions. How should this be done? Planning stability and structure? Keeping the seemingly passé? Flexibilty and humans scale.
THE QUESTION OF INTERFERENCE“One thing is certain, there will be change”.We cannot prevent changes. What the garages was yesterday they are not today. Still, I think the garages have so manyunique and positive sides, socially and architecturally, that it would be worth it trying to preserve them in one way oranother. This way Murmansk could keep some of their identity and keep a more human scale architecture.But how should we go forward in preserving them? Should we do nothing and let them live their own lives like theyhave seemingly done so far, or should we make a ew plans and guidelines for the future? Or would this ruin thewhole idea about preserving?This is a very di cult question, and needs to be handeled with deep care and understanding. However I allow myselfto through out a few aspects I think should be taken into consideration about possible futures:How to prevent that they just become a symbol of the past (like modern sami lavo architecture)?If the garages is gonna be a big part of the city, could there be a way of modernising the garages in a way that theygive something to other citizens than men who owns cars?If so, what program is needed in Murmansk? Something for youth and women? Could this be a new city hangout for allof Murmansk?The garage structure could be more open and inviting? Towards a western globalisation, What should be the underlying e ciency and the market? values while planning for the future?