"A single-minded revival of the city’s lost historic architectural values, allowing the rethinking and adjustment of the value system that has developed in the public consciousness as a result of a long legacy of neglect.” - Boris Yeremin, Founder
The Russian Council for Retroactive Development (RCRD) is an international cultural organization dedicated to a purposeful revival of the lost historical, architectural, and town planning values of the city and redressing the urban traumas of modernization.
RCRD applies a 360-degree Retroactive Development® methodology based on the purposeful revival of lost historical and architectural treasures, the protection and restoration of surviving monuments, and the active development of urban ensembles on the basis of the generative potential of their architectural heritage.
For over twenty years, RCRD has been at the forefront of the fight to reconstruct Russia's architectural heritage. From our headquarters in Moscow, RCRD oversees the Retroactive Development® of a city ravaged by reckless Soviet and post-Soviet planning practices. It is our mission to develop a new, holistic approach to urban planning based on the application of best practices from previous development periods. Our efforts have yielded a number of high profile projects, including the reconstructions of Kolomenskoye Palace, the Iberian Gate, and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, three invaluable pieces of Moscow's architectural heritage that were destroyed during the Soviet era.
In 2014 we expanded our scope of activities beyond Russia, working with local partners to apply the Retroactive Development® methodology in cities such as Paris, Berlin, and New York. Going forward, we plan to more intensively engage societies that are currently undergoing rapid urbanization or have had vital components of their architectural heritage erased, either by war, iconoclasm, or rampant development. Based on the Russian experience, our message is simple: the past is never gone; heritage can always be revived.
THE ORIGINS OF RETROACTIVE DEVELOPMENT®
"Now there is a moment in the development of Moscow, when the nihilistic actions concerning the city central core has gone too far. There is a threat of the whole losing artistic appearance, and it becomes clearer and clearer that in future we should revive the lost elements, developing new aesthetic values on the base of their genetic potential rather than strictly preserving monuments of architecture or creating so-called 'preservations zones'."
- Revived Moscow, diploma design by B. Savin, A. Ivanov, O. Makarova, M. Kyrchanov, O. Omelyanenko, V. Palkus, 1990 (Supervisor: Ass. prof. B. Yeremin)
The Russian Council for Retroactive Development (RCRD) has its origins in the ideas and studios of Boris Yeremin, an esteemed professor at Moscow Architectural Institute (MARKhI). During the 1980s and '90s Yeremin led a series of efforts to define the future development of Moscow, based on a sensitive engagement with its past. Under the umbrella of retrorazvitie (Retroactive Development), Yeremin's students launched a wide range of proposals for reviving individual buildings, public spaces, and entire neighborhoods in the capital.
The projects were united by a shared desire to establish a new form of urban development based on undoing the mistakes of modernization. Although their proposals occasionally included acts of architectural preservation, Yeremin and his students generally took a critical view of the practice, arguing that it instills in the architect a passive attitude towards heritage. Retroactive Development was developed as an active approach to imagining and improving the city, based on understanding its history and, when beneficial, resurrecting those parts that have been unwisely removed.
Although developed in an academic context, Yeremin's ideas were put into practice throughout the 1990s and 2000s, as former students assumed positions in government, determining planning and construction policy for Moscow.
Around the world vital pieces of urban heritage have been destroyed or are in urgent need of rescue. The forces of modernization have stripped cities of their historical identities and original urban logic. The road to revival is long, but it begins by pinpointing places to start. RCRD has begun by initiating a global history of architectural destruction. Based on our research, we have identified dozens of possible Retroactive Development® candidates.
REVIVE BY DEVELOPING, DEVELOP BY REVIVING
“Over the past decade, we have seen a welcome new trend evolving, mainly in developing countries. I am speaking about culture as an economic driver: a creator of jobs and revenues; a means of making poverty eradication strategies relevant and more effective at the local level.”
- UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova
While the cultural value of reviving urban heritage is obvious, Retroactive Development® also operates as a driver of economic growth. Besides employing the historians, craftspeople, architects, and contractors needed to build them, projects like the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and Iberian Gate have become unmissable tourist destinations crucial to Moscow's city marketing.
It's a model we hope to see replicated, as cities everywhere attempt to develop through reviving their heritage. The benefits are obvious: worldwide tourism to global heritage sites is increasing 8 to 12 percent per year on average, according to United National World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), with many sites doubling or tripling in visitation and revenues every 10 years. According to estimates by the Global Heritage Foundation, over 50 global heritage sites today each have annual revenues of over $100 million, up from a fraction of that number 20 years ago. Rather than focusing on simply protecting or repairing existing sites, Retroactive Development® provides a means to generate new destinations, drawn from the past, ready for the future.