Talks & Workshops


The speech is dedicated to the changes that took place in the street environment of Yerevan during the years of Armenia’s independence, the clash between public and private, the commercialization of urban areas and the discussion of the right to the city. The first half of the 1990s were the most chaotic times of the transition from the collapsed Soviet system to capitalism. In the urban environment, the main feature of this period was the emergence of a disorganized struggle for the right to the city. In the Soviet system, the right to the city was monopolized and belonged to the only ruling party in the USSR, the Communist Party. After the collapse of the USSR and the independence of Armenia, the majority of the population of Yerevan still did not understand well that this monopoly had disappeared. It was primarily understood by those who were practically related to that problem and, based on their practical problems and interests, formed their perspective on what the city area should be like. The first such groups were the small and medium-sized traders who began to perceive the city space as a small commercial area. They very quickly began to transform the city’s public spaces, turning them into environments for tables and small commercial booths, fairs, and small shop areas. This situation continued until the late 1990s when the big money owners appeared, and the spaces occupied by small traders’ tables and “booths” were replaced by large shops and commercial spaces. In parallel with the construction of Northern Avenue (2002), the construction boom began. The right to the city passed to the oligarchic elite, who began to transform the urban area according to their vision. This situation continued until 2007-2008 when such civil initiatives appeared in Yerevan for the first time that began to challenge the monopoly of image and rights of the oligarchic elites over the city. Several civil movements took place, some of which ended with the victory of civil activists. After the “Velvet Revolution” of 2018, there was a public expectation that the right to the city would be returned to the public. However, this did not happen, which led to the disappointment of the civil active part of the public. The report will conclude with a discussion of challenges related to the issue of the right to the city in the post-revolutionary period.