Mahalla: Urban Rural Living

Description of Mahalla: Urban Rural Living Mahalla: Urban Rural Living presents a cross-disciplinary research project into urban neighbourhoods in Uzbekistan called mahallas. A collaboration between architects and artists reflects on the innovative potential of a traditional Uzbek institution, a community way of life. The 2.6 million inhabitants of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, are divided between 522 official mahallas of various types and sizes. While some neighbourhoods are from Soviet or contemporary origin, a large amount is still based on an ancient land division where people live in traditional courtyard houses. But their number has gradually decreased in recent years due to economic pressure. It is crucial to study their potential both as an important element of cultural heritage and a laboratory of urban rural life; as we think about how to live together in the future. The application was developed on the occasion of Uzbekistan’s first national participation in the Venice Biennale. Commissioned by the Art and Culture Development Foundation Uzbekistan, it is based on a research conducted by the team of Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein from ETH Zurich, in collaboration with local experts and students from Tashkent. This digital tool allows six different houses of these mahallas to be discovered through an elaborate point cloud model using VR technology. Background information on each of the houses as well as insights into the general phenomenon are provided through floor plans, maps, facts and figures, as well as archival images. Specially sampled local sounds by artist Carlos Casas create an authentic acoustic environment. At a time when the ecosystem of the anonymous megacity is literally reaching its limits, the need for alternatives is greater than ever. Can the social organisation of these neighbourhoods and their various architectural formations as low-rise / high-density structures offer urban society a sustainable and ecological model? This application is the latest arrival in the series “Typology City Guide” developed by Studio Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein on the base of their typological research at ETH Zurich. This inventory of 20th century metropolitan and essentially overlooked architecture represents a systematic yet subjective compilation of urban architecture around the world. The eight “Typology City Guide” apps are available on the AppStore.

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