July 3, 2023г
Sustainable Development mechanisms - change management and stakeholder engagement
  • Sergey Mayarenkov
    Director of ANO “Irkutsk Quarters”
  • Yuri Sheredega
    architect, co-founder, managing partner of the SheredegaConsulting design and consulting agency. Member of the expert councils on comfortable urban environment and improvement of polar cities under the Ministry of Construction of the Russian Federation, the Committee on Tourism of the State Duma of the Russian Federation
  • Dmitry Smirnov
    Managing Partner of Project Group 8, expert on co-participating design, expert on the development of territories.
Pies, axes and exorcism: how to make the intangible things tangible and who gives permission for it
The discussion “Mechanisms for sustainable development - alterations management and stakeholders’ involvement” was held within the scope of the block dedicated to intangible heritage as a resource for the development of the territory at the Forum “Rebus. Economics of Construction in the Historical Center”. It was moderated by Dmitry Zabirov, Head of the project at the SKOLKOVO Moscow School of Management, and Marya Leontyeva, a sociologist and founder of the Tamga Institute for Urban Studies. This was the session which finalized the discussion at the Forum about the possibilities of decoding a genius of a place and its cultural codes to make them capitalize a territory.
- It is important to talk about the mechanisms of interaction between stakeholders, as it is important in the end who takes the restored objects on the balance sheet. Who is the person who becomes an heir? Let's also talk about how an abstract, symbolic right becomes a liability, - Marya Leontyeva set the tone for the discussion.
Tactical urbanism: Ossetian pies
Architect Yuri Sheredega, co-founder and managing partner of Sheredega Consulting, discoursed about the intangible heritage which can eventually become a material element of the city identity and about the approach to development called Tactical Urbanism. Among his cases, he cited an example of his work in Vladikavkaz, where, together with colleagues from the WOWHAUS bureau, his agency made a master plan for the city center. The speaker emphasized that the master plan, the concept and the intangible, ideological basis grows out of the research which has to be carried out. Sheredega told about the specific results that were obtained during the research and reflected on the share of the tangible and intangible in it.
- Firstly, there is the concept of “hadzar” in Ossetian culture; it is a covered structure in the yard where all meetings and events take place, from weddings to commemorations. In fact, this is nothing more than a barn, and it definitely does not belong to the physical cultural resources. However, the national idea says that this is a community center, and a very important part of the culture of the people! This must be taken into account when developing a master plan and ideas for material content, - says the expert.
His second interesting observation is: five of the eight most frequently purchased things in Vladikavkaz belong to various food items. By the way, Yuri Sheredega offers to take a closer look at other tourist cities and guarantees that the same will happen with tourists in Kazan, Ufa, and Cheboksary. First of all the tourist will satisfy his day-to-day hunger. Herewith, the entire center of Vladikavkaz is full of public catering establishments. This city understands its identity as: “First - pies, then - everything else”.
And the third observation: once in Vladikavkaz there was a powerful fortress, embracing the entire historical center. Now there is practically nothing left of it, the city has forgotten about it. There was not even a plan of how the fortress used to locate in the city; thus, the company offered it to the city after all details were explored.
- We organized the first tour through this ghost fortress. And that do we have as a result? On the one hand, it is a material heritage. And on the other hand, there is no fortress. Does it mean that it is intangible? One way or another, but the return of this cultural heritage site can seriously affect the identity of the city, - Sheredega insists.
Sessions of “historical exorcism”
The expert gives another example of bringing back the historical heritage. It is Tobolsk, which he described as the city with an absolutely dead central part.
- I call it “the exorcism of historic cities”. The fact is that it is already dead. The central part of it has been moved out, and wooden houses remain, the lower posad settlement is a historical heritage, but a criminogenic territory. But there are only seven teams of restorers in the Tyumen region, it is simply not enough to fulfill all tasks, - the speaker explains the problem. - Another problem is with the investor. The investor wants an already organized tourist flow to enter the process and establish a hotel, while a tourist needs a hotel, and only then he will he will enter the process. Tactical urbanism and the search for material intangible things also work here. The cultural heritage suffers in Tobolsk not only because there are no restorers there. The cultural heritage is not preserved there. But the preservation of the carved architraves for instance, and their application in work, or everything else that can be reached out to be preserved, is really important!
We reached out, for example, the local Cossack army locating in Tobolsk and comprising a huge part of the city identity. It really wants to organize training grounds for loose sparring matches. We are designing it now, it has not yet been agreed upon, but we know for sure that this will start forming a tourist flow on this street. And the flow is extremely necessary; after all, we can only convince investors with attractive figures.

Yury Sheredega spoke about the preservation of traditional crafts, in which the intangible cultural heritage in the form of craftsmanship is embodied in material objects. There are many examples of such kind in Russia when it is preserved: the Ax Festival in Tomsk, Vitoslavlitsy Reserve of wooden architecture in Velikiy Novgorod, and even the Tom Sawyer Fest, which is already taking place in 70 cities across Russia.
Participatory design is like a kiss
Dmitry Smirnov, the Managing partner of Project Group 8, an Expert on territorial development, spoke about the mechanisms of participatory design. This approach implies a constant study of the opinions of all stakeholders in the process of creating a project for the development of the territory. He insisted that it must be permanent; involvement, according to Dmitry Smirnov, is not a separate stage of the process, but the major logic of the whole approach.
The speaker described the general pattern of where formally designed projects come from, and described the perverse pattern of standard decision making. They are accepted authoritatively, there is no time to think them over, and the participation of end users in the project is reduced only to passive consumption.
- But the system of this decision-making logic needs to be changed: active subjects need to be involved at earlier stages! The secret of a good project is in the proper process! It is necessary to conduct a pre-project study, discuss the concept, draft design with consumers, and together form an assignment for the development of the territory. At all stages, you need to involve those who will then use the project. To do this, a working group should be organized consisting of different participants: political, economic; it should embrace a wide range of professionals, users, urban communities and residents. They can be included in the process using various methods and tools, - says Dmitry Smirnov.
-The practice of participatory design has been implemented for 10 years in Russia. The vector set by the expert community is being institutionalized, although at first, the supporters of such approach were considered local city idiots. By the way, the program for the development of public spaces in the Republic of Tatarstan has become in this respect a model for a large federal project, and this project also applied the participatory design approaches.
The speaker also cited the examples of historical center of Vologda and the territory in the center of Voronezh.
- Participatory design is like a kiss: once you try it, you would not stop, - the expert concluded his story.
The story of how Irkutsk attracted nine rubles of private investments per one ruble from the state
Sergei Mayarenkov, Director of Irkutskiye Kvartaly, ANO described another approach to the preservation of the intangible heritage of the territories.
The Irkutskiye Kvartaly project has been developing since 2009, and the focus here was quite clear, it was oriented at entrepreneurs in the project for the development of the territory.
- We are looking for ways to implement projects when cities and regions do not have the funds and opportunities to attract large federal resources. There are more and more projects based on this principle in the country, - the speaker said. - Our logic to a greater extent is based not on regulations, but on agreements and cooperation. We improvise and study these methods of project implementation. According to Sun Tzu - Manage through the gained benefits, and restrain through the inflicted harm.
The first experience was successful: nine rubles of private investment were attracted per one ruble of public investment in the project “The 130th Quarter”. The master plan of the Irkutskiye Kvartaly has already been created jointly with all investors. They ordered profound study of the intangible: what existed on this territory, what were the houses and what were their functions. The designers revealed the spirit of this place, conducted historical research of what happened here as well as studied how wooden architecture and technology evolved; they started to work with cultural codes and even with fashion.
- Because if you work only for the tourist flow, it will not give a full-fledged economy which works both for the city and for tourists. But you can create a new local fashion. And thus, experimenting with this idea we tried to make a street which is completely Siberian in aesthetics, but modern. To preserve meanings, memes, phrases... Investors were given some kind of a context. We do not teach neither do we edify. We set a level and framework for them, give them a look at the best world practices. The customer makes a project in this context with the architect, we discuss it, and then it all goes through the administrative filter. And all this inspires people and shows the valuable ideas which are hidden in their territory, and how business takes them into account, - says Sergey Mayarenkov.
By the way, as the speaker says, non-material identity, is like the rest of our life subject to change. For example, the function of a famous Siberian window with carved architraves in our minds has been replaced with a social network profile in our smartphone - this is now the preferable way to let the world know you. So it becomes more and more difficult to preserve intangible heritage in the context of the unconditional identity of a citizen.