Moscow Architectural Institute (MARCHI) and Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design will meet in Jerusalem next week for a week-long seminar on urban design and creating new ideas to improve the design of new and old cities.

Professor Ze’ev Druckman, the head of Bezalel Academy’s Urban Design Graduate Program, said the two institutes and cities are perfectly matched, “Our thinking at Bezalel is more philosophical, while at MARCHI they’re more practical, so there are many things we can learn from each other." 

“It’s important for us to be in contact with them and to create new ideas together, he added.

Druckman also discussed Jerusalem as a unique environment where a completed city has begin to develop again. 

“In Urban Design, there are two types of cities – Figure and Ground," Druckman explained. "‘Figure’ cities are complete, finished, like Paris. ‘Ground’ cities are still developing and growing. Moscow is a big city with large areas that can still be developed; it has different problems to sort out and it’s an ongoing process in an up-and-coming city."

"Jerusalem, although it could be seen as a ‘Figure’ city, is also still developing and growing and so we can exchange ideas and help each other in our processes," he added.

The Jerusalem seminar is the second part of the collaboration between Moscow and Jerusalem. During the week, the Russian and Israeli students will be exposed to various urban design ideas and exercises, which will be focused on the Russian Compound in Jerusalem. 

Druckman explained the choice of venue saying “A capital city doesn’t only belong to its citizens. Jerusalem is a city that hosts many other cultures and religions, and the Russian Compound is a very good example – the Russian Church came and established its place in Jerusalem.”

The Bezalel Academy's new campus will also be built in the Russian Compound. It is expected to open in 2016. Established in 1906 by artist Boris Schatz, with the support of the founder of Modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, Bezalel is Israel’s leading academy of art and design, and one of the most prestigious in the world.

The seminar, which begins on Sunday January 29 and runs through to Sunday February 5.  

Representatives from both Bezalel Academy and MARCHI will speak on a variety of urban design and architecture-related subjects. The public lecture on Tuesday January 31 will focus on the Russian architectural influence on the city of Jerusalem.