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July 3, 2023

Special session of the Council of Chief Architects of the Russian Federation "New brands in the historical environment"

  • Elvira Galyautdinova
    Deputy Director of "Suvarstroit
  • Alexei Komov
    Deputy Mayor - Chief Architect of Kaluga
  • Sergey Lutchenko
    First Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Urban Planning Policy of the Leningrad region - Chief Architect of the Leningrad region
  • Andrey Maksimov
    Chairman of the Commission on Territorial Development and Local Self-Government of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Zhivoenasledie.rf platform
  • Elena Orlova
    President of the Science. Art. Technology Foundation, member of the Russian Association of Emotional Intelligence Development Professionals, Experience Economy and Soft Skills expert
  • Илья Фомин
    СЕО Медиагруппы РИМ
  • Alexei Raskhodchikov
    Chairman of the Moscow Urbanism Center Foundation
  • Aleksander Sedikov
    Director of the Tomsk Design Association, member of the Public Council for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage Sites of the Tomsk Region, member of the Union of Restorers of the Tomsk Region
  • Nikita Shlyakhin
    Chief Architect, Bel Development
  • Natalia Klimova
    Advisor to the President of the RAACS, head of the Committee of the State Agrarian Academy, co-founder and partner of the "Architectural Laboratory AK and Partners
  • Tkachenko Vladislav
    Executive Director of the Association of Pipe Systems Manufacturers

New brands in the historical environment: rivalry vs partnership

At a special session “New brands in the historical environment: rivalry vs partnership” of the Council of Chief Architects of the Russian Federation and Municipal entities named after Aleksander Kuzmin at the REBUS Forum the participants discussed the co-branding of history and modernity in the architecture of the city. They shared their best case studies and gave recommendations on how to fit modern architecture into the historical environment in the most appropriate way.

Center of the city as a place of attraction
The special session was presented by the moderator Natalia Klimova, Advisor to the President of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences (RAACS), Head of the Organizing Committee of the A.V.Kuzmin, co-founder and partner of the Architectural Laboratory “AK and Partners”. She stressed that the discussion brought together chief architects, developers and designers, all those who make cities and territories comfortable and friendly.
According to Klimova, the central part of the city has always been and remains a place of attraction not only for residents but also for guests: both in terms of movement, and due to the convenience for visiting facilities, and in terms of jobs location often within walking distance.
- City centers are the most important places in every locality, whether it is a metropolis or a small town. At the same time, it is the focus of all possible interests and often conflicts. How they are solved, how to make historical centers more attractive, we will figure it out during the session, - the moderator announced.
New architectural brands - attractors for a city development
The work of the special session was opened by Andrey Maksimov, Chairman of the Commission on Territorial Development and Local Self-Government of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Zhivoenasledie.rf platform. He brought up in the course of conversation the subject of new brands emergence in the historical environment of the city.
According to Maksimov, today architecture plays a more prominent role in our lives than it used to several decades ago.
- If formerly many people could live in absolutely standard buildings of Soviet style, the one as in the film “The Irony of Fate or Enjoy Your Bath”, and be consented with it, today such style of the cities turn out to be absolutely boring for the consumer. Even a traditional guarded historical building may fail to be the proper level of attractiveness for people to choose it for living, in spite of the job availability and earnings, - he said.
- In this respect, there arises an inevitable need in new brands, new architectural dominants appearing in the urban environment. They become attractors for the development of the city, - Maximov continued. At the same time, such an architectural dominant is always the most powerful and at the same time the most controversial method of solving a problem, which can cause irritation and ambiguous perception of citizens. He cited the example of the Elbe Philharmonic (Hamburg Concert Hall), the construction of the Lakhta Center in St. Petersburg, etc.
- Not a single new dominant emerges without controversy, - he stated.
According to Maksimov, to achieve success in this aspect, you need to work with the genius of the place (outstanding people who lived in the city or visited it, etc.), with a certain idea, to attract creative people to implementation. Through facades, decoration, elements of the urban environment the city can be made much more attractive.
The Head of the Russian Civic Chamber Commission cited successful experiences in creating architectural dominants. This is a re-creation of a wooden fortress in Chekalin, the smallest town in Russia. Or Borovsk in the Kaluga region, where the artist Vladimir Ovchinnikov painted the walls with unusual paintings, plots from the history of the city, portraits of famous people, with quotes and philosophical statements. In Solvychegodsk, the similar object was the house where Stalin was in political exile. Now there is a hotel with Stalin's bedroom and a volume of his book under the pillow. Maksimov brought an example of White Flowers Boulevard in Kazan, which he called a very interesting project. This is an example of how the traces of an intangible brand, Absalyamov's novel bearing the same name, were embodied in the urban space of an already established urban development.
- There are enough ways to work on creating new intangible brands in the urban environment. It can be a work with water space or even gamification of the environment with the involvement of new creative people who can get involved in the design of public spaces, - he suggested.
The speaker also presented the Zhivoenasledie.rf platform, which contains a national map of local cultural brands in Russia.
- This is already quite a powerful resource for 2 million unique users. The community formed within the framework of the project helps us to constantly increase the quantity and quality of regional brands of national importance. I hope the platform can be used to create something in the urban environment that will really attract not only potential tourists, but also city residents, - he concluded.
Symbiosis of history and innovation
Elvira Galyautdinova, Deputy Director for Marketing and Sales #Suvarstroit, spoke about the company's approaches to working in a historical environment. In her speech “How to create the best development practices in the historical center of Kazan, using the example of the August Astry residential complex”, she drew attention to the fact that authorities and developers in Tatarstan successfully communicate with each other.
- Tatarstan is a special region. Here, developers and authorities are in constant dialogue, and the Chief Architect of the city of Kazan, Ilsiyar Tukhvatullina, makes it so that the objects are relevant, stylish and in demand in the coming years. One of these projects can be for sure called the August Astry residential complex, which has become the anchor for the development of the new city center, - she noted.
In addition, the peculiarity lies in the fact that the main trendsetters in Kazan are several developers, and the relations between them are characterized as good competition, with the adoption of best practices.
According to Galyautdinova, the need to preserve the historical appearance does not prevent the emergence of spectacular projects. Moreover, the hallmark of the Republic is the symbiosis of history and innovation.
- Kazan and the Republic as a whole are moving in the right direction, preserving the culture and at the same time introducing the most modern solutions, - she stressed.
The speaker presented the company #Suvarstroit, which is included in the Top 100 federal developers and ranks first in terms of current construction in Tatarstan.
- We are building up different territories, from the historical center to new territories in the suburbs. Therefore, our portfolio includes both infill development projects and integrated development of the territory, - she said.
Speaking of the approach used in the construction of houses in the historical center on the example of the residential complex August Astry (a reference to the poem of the same name by Tsvetaeva), Galyautdinova emphasized that the main goal was to create a house in the historical center of Kazan, which would become an anchor for the development of a new city center.
According to her, the development concept was made under the guidance of the ex-chief architect of Barcelona, Jose Acebillo. He preserves the historical and cultural features of the space in his projects enriching them with innovative solutions. The project August Astry is a residential building of an elite class on Ostrovsky Street, in Vakhitovsky district of Kazan. The project combines several functions: a business center, a public space and a private area (two residential buildings of different heights - 5 and 7 floors for 30 club-format apartments).
Thus, the house was built taking into account modern design standards which form comfortable living conditions: designer lobby, ceiling height of over 3 meters, a closed house territory with a garden courtyard, playgrounds for children and sportsgrounds, elevators descending to the parking lot, terraces and fireplaces in some of the apartments.
A good project will not be a success without communication with the end consumer; so it is necessary to build in dialogue with residents, she is convinced.
- We create our projects for people; therefore, first of all, we focus on the needs of future residents.
In particular, during in-depth interviews, the buyer's request for large apartments in this part of the city, the desire to leave a worthy legacy and emphasize personal uniqueness, was identified.
- Residential complex August Astry is a symbiosis of male and female basics. The original name has become an important way to promote the project, - shared Galyautdinova.
As a result, the successful case became the winner of the federal award Urban Awards 2021 in the segment of elite housing among regional projects, became the first project built under project financing, and was recognized as one of the best practices in the country for the application of DOM.RF standards (83% with an average indicator in Russia of 75%).
Is it better to reconstruct cultural heritage sites or to develop the territory?
Sergey Lutchenko, First Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Urban Planning Policy of the Leningrad Region, Chief Architect of the Leningrad Region, stressed that the problems of the regions, including those in the historical center, are everywhere more or less the same. The choice becomes important: whether to reconstruct cultural heritage sites or to develop the territory.
- As the Chief Architect, I am convinced that the territory needs to be developed. If you roll back, it’s not proved that it will get better, a golden mean is needed. From the point of view of development, and attraction of modern architecture, it is necessary to rely on public and expert opinion, - he is convinced.
In his report “New Brands in the Historical Environment”, Lutchenko said that at a recent meeting of the regional government, the concepts of the winners of the competition for master plans for historical settlements and cities were presented. They received the approval of the governor of the Leningrad region and members of the government for further implementation within two years. The speaker asked a rhetorical question: why modern architecture should be so bad and why buildings which are comfortable in terms of height and functionality cannot appear inside historical cities, subject to professional public discussion. - My opinion is that this is how the site housing should develop. There is no need to suspend work on historical territories, - he is convinced.
Lutchenko considers historical small towns which do not have large budgets to be the main pain point. As an example, he cited the village of Staraya Ladoga with an architectural monument of regional importance Riga Schwartza. This is a municipal facility; and no one wants to participate in the auction for five years. This is due to the fact that when buying an object, all the hardships of its preservation will pass to a private person. Herewith, the previous function of the object, which was a barnyard, is no longer required in modern reality. If we fail to attract an investor in five years the remaining elements of the unique object will literally completely collapse. Otherwise, there could be formed an interesting art gallery or a city of craftsmen in the building.
He illustrated another problem arising in connection with the introduction of the Federal Law FZ-73 regarding the protection zones of cultural heritage sites using the example of the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in the village of Soginitsy, which is considered the rarest tent temple in the country. There is also a new not dissonant object in the complex. In connection with the entry into force of the law, the protection zones were superimposed on a small chapel, which was built on the border area. In this regard, the question arises, whether to leave a new object or demolish it. In general, there are quite a lot of contradictory points in the legislation that can and should be coordinated and optimized, according to the speaker.
The historical center should not be turned into a museum
Aleksey Raskhodchikov, Chairman of the Moscow Center for Urban Studies “Gorod” Foundation, Candidate of Sociological Sciences, proposed to consider the city in the context of a human environment, and not just an abstract space. He presented the speech “Renewal of the historical environment of cities”.
- We can see every day that we are creating an environment which will later have a strong influence impact on us, - he stressed.
-The historical environment is unique and difficult to reproduce. Any city is always historical: it is someone's memory, someone met his fate here, was happy. Many regions are worried that young people are leaving the place. But the problem is not that the youth is leaving, but that it is not returning. And where should they return, if nothing is left in their birthplace which has been dear to them and would resonate in the soul, if the historical heritage is being destroyed, and public places are in a deplorable state, - he brought up a serious question.
At the same time, according to the speaker, the historical environment is a unique value, which is almost impossible to replace with anything.
- Even well reproduced new building does not respond that much as an authentic historical object, - Raskhodchikov is convinced. -Moscow is investing actively in hospitality infrastructure. But St. Petersburg has been collecting and will continue to collect several tens of millions of tourists annually, although it is less landscaped and comfortable in terms of environment. This is a phenomenon of historical heritage, which is not fully understood by us, to be honest, - he said.
The expert identified two main problems of historical heritage: museumification and depopulation. The historical center should not be turned into a museum, and the center of offices and bureaucratic institutions.
- Tourists come to see not only the city. A city without people is not interesting, - he stressed. The second problem is that the historical environment must be alive. And when a historical object stands conditionally in a field and there is nothing around: no bench, no lawn, it does not work.
Raskhodchikov joined the position of previous experts with the confirmation that the historical environment always implies conflict. A classic example is the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
- Yes, it worked out well. But the conflict was serious, - he recalled.
According to the expert, it is necessary to conduct research and to understand exactly what can be changed in a reconstructed object and what cannot be touched, because it is dear to people in order to minimize such conflicts.
He also touched upon the topic of territory branding.
- We often try to create brands from scratch, based simply on someone's imagination. That is why there are so many failed attempts at branding. A brand failing to be perceived by residents will not live and work. People must participate in this, images and meanings must find an emotional response from the inhabitants. It is important to take into account the natural resources of the territory and significant people: such live, humanized brands are better perceived by people. But such work requires serious research, and not just “polls” for show, - Aleksey Raskhodchikov summed up.
We should preserve and enhance the heritage
Chief Architect of BEL Development LLC Nikita Shlyakhin is convinced that every element of urban development affects its perception, preserving or destroying the heritage of the time.
- In my opinion, the city is a living organism. Inevitably, the creation of new architectural objects is required for the full development of the city. The most valuable objects pass through the time filter. The task of developers is to preserve and increase the heritage, carefully inscribing a new object into the existing architectural environment, - he emphasized, presenting his speech “Prospects for development in the existing infrastructure and features of the implementation of projects in the historical part of cities”.
On the example of BEL Development cases, Shlyakhin demonstrated the key principles which guide the company in order to fit new objects into historical centers. One of the projects is the multifunctional complex Spartak Tennis Club in Kaliningrad. An architectural image corresponding to the architecture of fortresses existing in the region was chosen to work on the project. Rethinking the brickwork, narrow windows, and round towers of the forts allowed for the current architecture. The concept of the future complex is based on the historically formed urban line: tennis courts on this site functioned in the 30s of the 20th century, and this function will be preserved. It is planned to build seven outdoor and four indoor courts, as well as a fitness operator, a hotel with a restaurant, a business center and a retail outlet. According to the speaker, the object under construction is highly appreciated by the architectural community, relevant departments of the Government of the Kaliningrad region and has successfully passed the town planning council.
Another case is the club complex of residences “Mayakovskiy” in the very center of Novosibirsk, in close proximity to a cultural heritage site, a pharmacy built at the beginning of the last century. Among other things, due to properly selected materials, the new building formed a single ensemble with the red-brick building of the pharmacy. A combination of red and white colors is used also in the facades of the residential complex which is typical for many buildings in the center of Novosibirsk.
And during the implementation of the club house “Dolgorukovskaya, 25” in Moscow, where great artists and composers lived, the developer tried to fit as much as possible into the existing development. During the construction process, the developer identified a cultural heritage site, a one-story wooden house of pre-revolutionary construction, which is the main house of the Maria Schiller city estate, and restored it at his own expense. Currently, the facility has been successfully adapted to modern functionality and is used to house a restaurant.
It is necessary to find the genetic code
Deputy city mayor, Chief Architect of the city of Kaluga Aleksey Komov focused on the originality of his native location. According to him, the Chief Architect’s team has collected and uses in their work a “set of Kaluga identity”, the heroic, classical, space, folk, natural items. In particular, super realistic identity is associated with the personality of the genius of the place, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. He lived most of his life and made most of his discoveries in Kaluga and was buried here. And it was here, not far from the burial place, where in 1967 the world's first State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, a masterpiece of Soviet modernism, was opened.
On the basis of the historical styles and urban identity research, permanent work is underway on branding and its introduction into the environment, Komov specified. For Kaluga, as the cradle of cosmonautics, the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the first manned space flight in 2021 was a particularly outstanding event, coinciding with the year of the 650th anniversary of the city itself. An enormous restoration work was carried out in the capital of the Kaluga region by the anniversary dates, including with objects of the USSR time related to space. Thus, the monumental complex of the 600th anniversary of Kaluga was restored along with the restoration of historical decorative panels and mosaic reliefs on city facades and even the reconstruction of Soviet neon signs. The outstanding second stage of the Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, opened for the “space anniversary”, has become the newest flagship object.
-An important task of the Chief architect is to reveal meanings, strengthening the identity linking the event to environment, - the speaker declared.
Komov has agreed with the idea of a colleague from the Leningrad region.
- How is it possible to build in a historical environment, when often there is nothing left of the said environment? It is necessary not to reset to zero building anew but to scrupulously identify the genetic code and reboot it at a new stage in history, - he is convinced.
- The image of the city is a cornerstone concept. It must be visually manifested and tangible, that is to say, “at your fingertips”. Then, within this paradigm, the self-consciousness of the city shall be revived from space and forms, as well as the very same environment by which we distinguish our Russian cities, but not just a set of standard Lego bricks without historical roots and a future.
A mistake in construction process in the city center deserves shooting death
Director of the Tomsk Design Association, member of the Public Council for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage Sites of the Tomsk Region, member of the Union of Restorers of the Tomsk Region Aleksander Sedikov raised the issue of the architecture quality in city centers. According to him, the most popular architectural objects now were once perceived by local residents with hostility. Such a reaction, for example, was met by the already mentioned construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. And now it is the most pictured architectural structure in the world, which is the brand of the whole of France. The dancing or “drunken” house in Prague also caused discontent among the townspeople, and now due to the crowd of tourists you can’t approach it.
- In all these situations, a high-quality architecture saved the objects, - he said.
- Tomsk possesses a fairly large number of cultural heritage sites. In the center of the city, the situation is as follows: a step to the left or a step to the right from the original deserves shooting death. And the architect walks like on a minefield. The quality of our construction work is at a fairly high level, all successful objects in our historical center were made in compliance with draconian regulations,- says Sedikov. In general, the new architecture, if it is of high quality, fits perfectly into the context of the city including the historical center, - he emphasizes.
According to the speaker, the quality of architecture depends primarily on the architect, his professionalism, and apart from that, the result depends on the goodwill of the customer; and what is no less important, the experience and professional skills of managers. He also drew attention to the absence of a properly functioning urban planning council in Tomsk.
Private business takes on the burden of preserving historical heritage
Elena Orlova, President of the Science. Art. Technology Foundation, member of the Russian Association of Emotional Intelligence Development Professionals, Experience Economy and Soft Skills expert, shared an interesting case of acquiring the dacha of the merchant Sorokin near Tutaev, a unique Moorish-style monument of wooden architecture. This building was destroyed by the 2010 hurricane. The Foundation purchased its details, preserved interior items, and made a scientific description with the participation of specialists. Now the Foundation plans to recreate an amazing, rare object and turn it into a museum of industrial design. Currently, a search is underway for a place to recreate the cottage.
Orlova also spoke about the successful experience of Kostroma, where a separate point of business, a hotel and a restaurant, was created from an old floating pier at private expense.
-Those objects which we preserve in cities should operate, and not just turned into museums. If people come there, someone should support it. City budgets do not always withstand this burden. Businessmen take on this burden of preserving the heritage, - she explained.
The speaker is surprised very much that there are no floating landing piers in a huge number of cities on the Volga. At the same time, Orlova is convinced that many people want to spend their time at the river, so the practice of Kostroma may well be adopted in other regions.
The general result of the discussion was the conclusion that both historical objects and new architectural implementations can be new brands and points of attraction in the territory, if quality, professionalism and respect for the memory of the place are at the forefront.