Kazan’s New Garden City Competition

An “eco-district” Master Plan

Winning plan by Knight Frank (image © Knight Frank) courtesy: Agency for Strategic Development

 

Moscow has been short on housing for decades. Now the need for housing in the far-flung reaches of the Russian Federation is taking shape. Kazan, a city east of Moscow on the upper reaches of the Volga River in the Republic of Tartarstan, has just announced the winners of a competition for a completely new suburban plan. Although such a competition might not appear as anything new to western countries, where new towns were built in England and elsewhere, and especially in China, where new towns are sprouting up on a regular basis, this represents a new way to approach urban planning in the Russian Federation. According to Kazan’s mayor, Ilsur Metshin, “The competition featured the world’s best architectural and design players, who fought for the right to reach the final. This has enriched us all – we really did see completely new approaches to design, or at least unusual for Russia. This is a large territory, and there is enough of everything: both land, and scale, as well as the desire to see the eco-district of tomorrow.”

The competition was open to international participants, and drew 47 entries from a number of countries outside Russia. Three finalists, each receiving 2 million rubles for their work, were selected to present their designs to a Russian jury.

After reviewing presentations of all the concepts, including the functional programming strategy, the architectural and urban planning concept, the framework financial and economic model for implementing the concept until 2030, and a preliminary design of the territory for the initial implementation stage, the jury discussed the projects submitted and determined the winner by vote. 

The winner was the Anglo-French-Russian consortium led by international consulting company Knight Frank (Russia, UK), which included XTU Architects (France), OXO Architects (France), John Thompson & Partners/JTP (England), Architectural Landing Force (Russia, Republic of Tatarstan), and TERRA SCAPE (Belgium). Their team presented the “Ecopolis ‘Two forests’” project, featuring the infiltration of green fingers in the future eco-district. “The concept involves the formation of active clusters with dense buildings, where life will be in full swing, a “clearing” with less dense buildings, and local public spaces with playgrounds and meeting places. There will be clusters, and groups of clearings, and the ‘fingers’ are united by a long park in the region and a large green ring. The park threads sub-centers at the intersection with the roads, where children’s sports and event zones and cafes will be located, as well as a square with the main cultural center. Thus, the three elements are active clusters, the green ring and the district park, forming the basis for the successful development of the eco-district. As a result, the existing ecosystem, biodiversity and high quality of the environment are prioritized at the highest level.


First place images © Knight Frank courtesy: Agency for Strategic Development

 

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Interview: James Mary O’Connor FAIA (Winter 2017)

After receiving his Diploma in Architecture from the Dublin Institute of Technology and BS in Architecture from Trinity College in Dublin, James received his Masters in Architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles while a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S. Shortly after his time as a student in Charles Moore’s Master Class at UCLA, he joined the Moore firm in Los Angeles, now Moore Ruble Yudell. Beginning in the late 1980s, he was involved in the firm’s many projects in Germany, many of which dealt with masterplanning and the construction of large housing, primarily in Berlin. Subsequently, he was involved in the Potatisåkern Master Plan & Housing, as well as the Bo01 Housing Exhibition, both in Malmö, Sweden.
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Interview: Matthias Sauerbruch of Sauerbruch Hutton (Spring 2008)

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GSW Competition, Berlin Winner Police and Fire Station, Berlin (competiiton 2002, completion 2004)

 

COMPETITIONS: Many architecture firms today have a multinational composition, and Sauerbruch Hutton is no exception. You started out in London, but moved to Berlin in 1993. Can I assume that was because you won a big competition here, then decided to stay?


MATTHIAS SAUERBRUCH: We started the office in London because Louisa and I met and got our BA in London. We then worked in offices in London, and basically through a number of circumstances decided to set up our own office. During that time we did a number of competitions on the continent, because in Britain there were hardly any competitions, whereas in Germany there were all of these big building projects which were competitions. One of the first competitions we entered, we won (GSE Headquarters Building, Berlin). We discovered fairly soon that there was no chance of actually realizing this project unless we were there. The other reason was that Berlin was really the most interesting place in Europe at that time. It just seemed it would be a missed opportunity not to be part of that. Once we started to set up an office, with all the infrastructure, and all the people attached, it becomes slightly less mobile. The irony is that for some years now we have not had any work in Berlin; it’s all elsewhere. But it is a nice place to be.

 

 

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Photonic Centre, Adlershof Research Park, Berlin (Competition, First Prize, 1995; Completion, 1998)

COMPETITIONS: In this day and age, with communications as they are, you can be almost anyplace

 

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