Digital doubles and best careers for the future: Gems of the Moscow Urban Forum

Digital doubles and best careers for the future: Gems of the Moscow Urban Forum
This year’s Moscow Urban Forum was attended by 7,000 people from 68 countries and became a world championship in urbanism. Read about the gems of this forum.

The Moscow Urban Forum has become the main event in Moscow’s social life after the World Cup. The best architects and urban planners constituted the first audience of the Concert Hall in Zaryadye Park, which was the forum’s main venue. The forum was brilliantly organised and was visited for the first time by President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow’s cultural code

The More Human Than Human artistic object was installed in the park a long time ago but was hardly ever noticed, for some strange reason. It represents a huge painting with a futuristic purple face, which came alive when people pointed their smartphones with a special app at it.

This mural has been created for Moscow by American academic and digital artist BC Biermann, whose Heavy Projects team performs miracles thanks to the augmented reality (AR) technology. BC Biermann took open data about Moscow’s theatres, museums and galleries, compressed it into dots and used them to create a female face. It can be described as Moscow’s cultural code.

BC Biermann spoke about this during a workshop he held at the forum. The audience included Lev Yashin, or rather his AR copy. A digital copy of the legendary Soviet-era goalkeeper, also known as the Black Spider, has been set up in Zaryadye Park. When BC Biermann saw the copy, he immediately recognised it as Lev Yashin.

In addition to presenting the mural, BC Biermann also spoke about the future of AR technology. He said that AR technology would be used to make smart glasses or even smart contact lenses. It may sound fantastic, but you don’t have to be a professional futurologist to see that this time is coming, BC Biermann said.

Careers for the future

The best careers of the future in Moscow were discussed at the session titled New Artisans: What Professions Will (not) Be Needed in Future Megacities? The best careers in a year or two will be those of tutors, genetic counselling, operators of medical robots and experts in modernising construction technologies.

The sectors requiring these professionals are rapidly growing and lack personnel.

Deputy head of the Moscow Department of Labour and Social Protection Andrei Besshtanko spoke about genetic counselling. Submitting samples for a genomic test is easy in Moscow, but there are not enough professionals who can carry out the analysis.


Those who attended the plenary session Megapolis and University: Investment Model of Partnership discussed the role of the leading universities in the economy.

Konstantin Sonin, a professor at the University of Chicago and the Higher School of Economics, described a world class super-university.

“If we take physics and chemistry from Moscow State University, physics and maths from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (PhysTech), maths and social sciences from the Higher School of Economics and the New Economic School, materials science from MISIS, cultural programmes from RANEPA and Russian State University for the Humanities, and biomedicine from the institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, we will have a super-university,” Sonin said.

Studying to be an urbanist

This subject was discussed at a roundtable titled Master of Urban Management: Education for Urban Leaders. Varvara Melnikova, CEO of the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow, said everything in this sphere depends on the region, the city and also the size of the city.

Moscow has problems and challenges that call for vertical professionals with highly specific top-level skills and competencies. It is important to divide responsibilities in Moscow, so that everyone minds his or her own affairs. On the other hand, a small town with a population of 100,000 needs horizontal professionals with skills and competencies in a variety of fields.


The forum participants not only discussed theoretic subjects, but also attended the presentation of practical projects that can be implemented in Moscow without delay. Such projects were created by groups of students and young professionals within the framework of the MUF LAB of urban initiatives.

“Applications were considered for a month, following which 15 teams were chosen for the forum,” said Anastasia Chernyakina, member of the Kultpatrul (Cultural Patrol) team. Her team, which comprises students and graduates from Moscow State University, the Higher School of Economics and the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, designed a public space in the yard of the Museum of Moscow. The MUF LAB of urban initiatives was used for a networking system and for expert assessment of the team’s work.

Pose for a selfie with a 3D hologram and visit a smart flat

The projects put up for public view in the expansive rooms and wide corridors of the Zaryadye Concert Hall are taking Moscow to a new level. The forum participants and visitors could pose for a selfie with 3D holograms ranging from street names to trains; get a taste of living in a smart flat, which will be built by 2020 under the renovation programme; watch VR films about Moscow landmarks, and do lots more things too. They could also do yoga, attend workshops or talk with experts in urbanisation and urbanism.

A global event in the sphere of urbanism, the Moscow Urban Forum’s pleasant atmosphere made it a warm and friendly sunny summer Moscow event.

Prepared by the First Student Agency