The conference takes place in the Russian city of Volgograd, where the preparations for the 2018 Football World Cup are in full swing. These preparations are making visible many formerly hidden infrastructures.

Until 1961 the city was known as Stalingrad. This is the site of the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-1943, one of the largest and most significant battlegrounds of the Second World War. The city was almost entirely destroyed by a series of massive bombing campaigns. This is how the city looked from the air before the Battle of Stalingrad. And this is how the city looked after.

After the war, there was talk of leaving the city in its destroyed state as an enormous open-air memorial. However, it was decided not simply to restore the city as it was, but practically to build a new city from scratch. In many cases, buildings that had survived the Nazi bombardment were destroyed in this reconstruction process. In the end, Volgograd kept very few traces of its pre-1942 history. It became a model of Soviet modernism and gigantism.

Volgograd is home to two of the tallest monuments in the world.

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The Motherland Calls (shown in the banner above), at 85 meters, is one of the tallest non-religious statues in the world. The monument was created in 1967 by the sculptor Evgeny Vuchetich and the engineer Nikolai Nikitin. It is the central element of the memorial complex dedicated to the Battle of Stalingrad.

At 27 meters, the Lenin monument that stands at the gates of the Volga-Don canal is considered one of the world’s tallest monuments dedicated to an actual historical human being.

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Today, Volgograd is stretched almost 100 km along the Volga river. It is one of the longest and narrowest cities of the world. It contains a number of interesting infrastructural wonders that leave no doubt that infrastructures are indeed alive.

One of these is the Volgograd metro-tram, opened in 1984. This is an urban tram system that consists of two lines and 22 stations. The tracks for the metro-tram run partially above ground and partially below. In 2012, the Russian version of Forbes Magazine placed the Volgograd metro-tram at number 4 in its list of 12 most interesting tram routes in the world, due to the way the tram lines cross underground in isolated tunnels.

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Another of Volgograd’s infrastructural “marvels” is the so-called “dancing bridge” over the river Volga. One year after its opening in 2009, pedestrians and drivers on the bridge felt it begin to shake, and some even were able to film the event. The bridge was closed and inspected. An expert commission determined that vibration of strong winds on that day corresponded to the internal vibrations of the bridge itself, causing the entire structure to “dance”. Soon the bridge was reopened and today it continues to connect that which is separated by the Volga.

We welcome you to Volgograd and hope to share with you the experience of living infrastructures in the making.