The developer is an urbanist: a fashionable interaction, but will it last?

The developer is an urbanist: a fashionable interaction, but will it last?

Urbanism today is a fashionable occupation, but not everyone understands what exactly the professionals of this issue do, and whether their opinion should be taken into account in the construction of modern facilities.

A city is not a constant value. It is always evolving, changing and growing. The architect is responsible for the appearance of urban space. At least that is what most architects and residents think. But an architect usually creates something new, he imagines his world and then puts it into practice. The city is the real world, and life in it must be not only aesthetic and aesthetically pleasing, but first of all it must be comfortable for the majority. And it is urbanists who are able to match architects' fantasies with the existing reality. And when the connection of these two experts works, then the residents get unique urban spaces, which become points of attraction.

The editors of the Construction news agency tried to find out whether or not developers listen to the opinion of urban planners, whether they work in conjunction with them, and what they get as an output. It turned out that it all depends on the object. If the object is spotty, its construction does not require the involvement of an urbanist, if it is a large project or integrated development of the territory, without him to carry out such a construction is simply impossible.

Size matters

Yulia Zubarik, founder of the architectural bureau Master's plan, explains:

- Recently, in Moscow, more and more often, not just "points" in the center of Moscow are implemented, as was previously the case, but large architectural and urban projects with an area of 5 to 30 hectares and more. In this case, you cannot do without an urbanist and an architect. After all, the urbanist, or "urban planner" in Russian, is primarily a strategist for the development of the entire built-up area. Transport, engineering, social and public and business infrastructure is created and designed by him. Any urban planner knows that you have to start with the structure. First and foremost, with the transport network, which permeates the entire architectural and urban design, making it accessible, separating the public from the private. In addition, every urban design always takes into account social facilities, schools, kindergartens, clinics, and public green spaces - parks and squares, pedestrian connections.

ЭMaria Nikolaeva, head of the architectural bureau MAD Architects, shares this opinion:

- Urbanism is intended to bring together all existing practices and approaches to the organization and development of space to form a model of a comfortable environment for all participants. Building cities for the sake of cities is a futile endeavor. But building cities for people is a new approach to space. Those companies, which are engaged in large-scale landscaping, work with public spaces or large infrastructure projects, need urban specialists to a greater extent. For local projects it is required to a lesser extent, as the interaction of the object with the environment and people is limited to its functional purpose. With a competent approach, involving experts in urban planning and architecture, you can get an almost perfect project, which for the investor will be a liquid and recoupable asset, and for the city and residents - a new center of attraction.

Today Russian developers who develop large territories with large-scale projects undoubtedly resort to the experience of urbanists. For example, this is confirmed by director of strategic development of FGC "Leader" Pavel Bryzgalov:

- Our company is closely engaged in complex development projects. And just for quality project elaboration within the general area development, detailed elaboration of public zones, even distribution of transport flows both within the quarter and outside it, correct infrastructure zoning, we have a specialist in urban planning. For our current and future projects we take into account the national and world experience and use the best practices.

Kirill Ignakhin, general director of Level Group, adds:

- In the complex development of the territory it is important to understand how this large-scale project will live after it is commissioned. An urban planner helps to create such a concept and to foresee how the space of the complex will change, i.e. for the projects whose size is on the scale of small residential estates, you need a specialist who understands how the city is organized.

When working on a large project, as Maria Khuramshina, director of marketing and advertising at Troika ED, says, the developer must take into account all the factors for the comfortable functioning of the urban system: transport, pedestrian infrastructure, the environment, healthcare, etc. And it is the urbanists who provide invaluable assistance in this.

In addition, urban planners are involved in the development of documentation, which is very important for the implementation of the conceived project.

No document, no object

The realization of any development project starts with the working out of town-planning documentation, market research, regulation of property and land relations and etc. The success of the future facility depends on a thorough study of each of these aspects, and town planning documentation is the primary work to obtain a construction permit.

As Julia Zubarik explains:

- In Russia, there is a special type of documentation - the territory planning project (PPT). This is probably the most complex and responsible type of documentation throughout the project, which plans and approves the integrated development of large territories. For example, the reorganization of abandoned industrial zones into social and residential clusters is both the renovation of blocks of dilapidated five-story building stock and the development of transport hubs (TTH). Without a territory planning project, such reorganizations are impossible, which means that urban planners are necessary both for the investor and for the city.

However, Maria Litinetskaya, managing partner of Metrium Group, says that in practice developers prefer to communicate not with urbanists, but with urban planners:

- Many developers are turning to scientists from the Research Institute of General Plan of Moscow to develop a territory planning project. The specialists of this research institute have more than half a century of experience in urban planning issues with consideration of all aspects: engineering-transport, architectural-planning, environmental, socio-economic and others.

Quite often the development of project documentation is outsourced to a third party. According to Litinetskaya, mostly government agencies or close to them are chosen, as it is important to consider the vector of the city development, planned by the authorities. It usually allows agreeing on the project quicker.

The time for coordination and the time to correct mistakes in documentation are quite expensive for the developer. He also pays if initially there was not everything envisaged, and in the course of the project realization there appears a necessity to change something in the project.

Considering these specifics, Alexander Krasavtsev, a partner of PROMCODE, the curator of educational program UTRO, is convinced that the developer should not involve various specialists on a subcontractor basis, but have a specialist on staff who would be knowledgeable in market research, in urban planning documentation and even in working with residents. Also, different subcontractors can act inconsistently. For example, marketers are good at figuring out what will sell and giving their take on what will be in demand in a given job. But when the developer comes to the architects with this, it turns out that such a project simply cannot be built in the area. And the architects design somewhat differently. The regulation of land and property relations also leads to adjustments in the project. It turns out that participants work independently of each other, each gives a good result, but in the end the project is slowed down and is not always of high quality.

But this problem can be solved. For example, it would be very useful to teach our own specialists in a special course within the framework of the educational program "Territorial Development Management", organized by MARSH and Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

World's best examples.

The complexity of developers working in tandem with architects and urbanists is a working point in any construction process. But if the tandem is formed and the project is implemented, then the facility will be significant for the city, it will attract attention. Of course, there are similar projects in the world. Having interviewed experts, the editorial board named the top three.

The project to renovate the power station in the Battersea district of London, about which Maria Litinetskaya spoke. The former station, little suitable for reconstruction, became the social center of a huge area of residential, office and commercial development. Several hundred thousand square meters of residential real estate is being built around it. Almost all of the houses will have a cascading architectural form, meaning that there will be many terraces and penthouses overlooking the old red brick station, which will become a true cultural and consumer cluster for the district.

The Offenbach HafenT project in Frankfurt am Main also stands out. Kirill Ignakhin describes it as follows:


- We are talking about the development of a small plot of land in the former industrial area. Its peculiarity is that it is a long but narrow arrow, deepening into the fairway of the Main. The maximum width of the peninsula - only 115 m. On this site is now under low-rise development, suggesting the placement of houses, offices, park and beach at the tip of the arrow. And the entire area will consist of just one street, which will run along the peninsula. Taking into account the peculiarities of the soil and the extremely limited territory, 10-20 years ago, I suppose, such a piece of land couldn't have been used at all to create a residential and autonomous district. In fact, that's why only port warehouses were located here before. Modern approaches to urban development allow to use even such land plots.

Anna Nosova, a partner of Promocode and the curator of the UTRO educational program, considers the construction of Poundbury in Great Britain to be a successful work involving urbanists. Construction began in 1993 and continued for 20 years. Today the population of Poundbury is 6,000 people. And the basic principles of the new urbanism were applied here, thanks to which a comfortable living environment is created. For example, car traffic is minimized, and the focus is on pedestrians and eco-transport. The social infrastructure was built within walking distance of the neighborhood. From the beginning, the environment was respected here, environmentally friendly technologies were used, and the city was built for walking, not driving.

At the moment, the principles of the new urbanism are becoming a part of the world urban policy. And even Moscow is starting to change in this direction, trying to increase pedestrian traffic, although not all Muscovites find this convenient.

Natalia Bukhtiyarova