The town was built for workers of Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, designed by architect Martin Mikaelyan who worked at ArmStateProject (ArmGosProject) in 1970’s. The utopian soviet modern project is peculiar for the fact that the same studio designed both the Master plan of the town and most of the structures built, including residential, public and commercial typologies. By the time that Spitak earthquake happened in 1988 only the western part of the town was built, and later when the Nuclear Power Plant was shut down the construction of the town left abandoned. 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.
In 2007 the Research (Project) Leader Sarhat Petrosyan while working at ArmProject JSC (previously ArmStateProject) was involved in development of the new Master Plan of Metsamor, under the commission of the Ministry of Urban Development of Armenia that became a reason to study the town’s original design. Later during 2008-2009, Research Assistant Nvard Yerkanian (then a bachelor degree architecture student) developed her diploma project for rehabilitation of urban structure of Metsamor town with a special focus on re-evaluation of the original design of the town (supervised by Sarhat Petrosyan).
During years 2011 and 2012 urbanlab Yerevan team organised several guided tours of the site for international guests of the organisation (Alain Charre from Paris, Verena von Bekerath from Berlin, Vigen Galstyan from Sydney, etc.) in order to raise interest around the town.
Last year Budapest-Köln based photographer Katharina Roters had an architecture photography workshop at Yerevan based Tumo Center for Creative Technologies. In the framework of the workshop a tour organised by urbanlab Yerevan when the idea of collaborative study on Metsamor has been emerged.
Re-Think Metsamor is the first attempt for a collaborative project to mapping urban environment with the eyes of visual artists (photographer and design consultant) and architects (planners) to highlight the importance of social factors of an “all-in-one” urban fabric within environmental uncertain situation.
Although the project is focused on urban issues, but environmental aspects of Metsamor, which are mainly interconnected with Nuclear Power Plant, has to be subject of consideration. The expectations and fears form developments on construction of a new nuclear power plant is another aspect that might influence the urban expansion or decline.
Photography by Katharina Roters