The second Russia-wide competition for the best projects to create a comfortable urban environment in 2019 has come to an end.
One of the winners in the category “Small towns with a population of up to 10 thousand people” was the small town of Kedrovy from Tomskaya Oblast. The city's population is just over 2,000 people. The town will receive 40 million rubles for the project of improving town's main public space – a sum that is a very significant amount for such a "small town".
But the path to victory was not easy: the city participated in the competition for the second time. Last year's project did not satisfy the jury but the city administration did not give up and turned to Moscow specialists. The project was taken up by the architectural bureau Master's Plan, with whose head - Yulia Zubarik – we talked to.
- Master's Plan is a well-known Moscow bureau that deals with significant sites in the capital, why did you decide to take on Kedrovy which is located in polar region of Russia?
After the first contest ended, it became clear that many cities were simply not ready to participate and made many technical mistakes that professionals would never make. Yet, for these cities public spaces are not just a bliss but a vital necessity.
It was decided to rethink such projects as part of the Open City festival where we acted as one of the curators. The team of students, led by our architect Yulia Nurtdinova, tried to understand what had been done wrong and how it could have been corrected in order to reapply next year. As a case study for students to work with, we took Kedrovy’s landscaping concept.
It should be noted that both the administration and the residents of Kedrovy wanted to win. They are very interested in the development of their town, they want to change life there, so they took and are taking a very active part in the design process by expressing their wishes, forming an understanding of what they lack and what can be done. On the stage of preliminary discussions, the City Hall communicated very closely with the residents, meetings were held, votes were collected, children, who drew mental maps of their town, were involved, the youth also made its suggestion. It became clear that residents were really looking forward to this improvement.
-What will change in the city?
Kedrovy is a special city both in terms of its location and in terms of the demographic composition of the population, 30% of which are children under 18 years of age.
The town consists of two districts, where mostly married couples with children live. The men go away for rotational work, while women with children, grandparents, i.e. the population that needs common areas, stay in the city.
The problems are exactly like this: there are no playgrounds, no areas where young people can sit or ride skateboards and bicycles, which are fashionable there. There are reading evenings organized for adults - people are interested, people want to develop, but unfortunately, the lack of common areas limits their ability to socialize. The town has a geographic center, where public events take place, for example, the Christmas tree is put up there and other festivities are held on a yearly basis. There’s also a platform on which it is planned to build a playground and make other improvements. In fact, that's the site the city was competing with. But we decided to look at the city more broadly: it became obvious that the city needs to be connected. It needs cycle and pedestrian routes, street lighting etc. This implies the transformation not just of one area but an improvement of the whole city.
Yulia Nurutdinova with students, analyzed all the wishes and presented a completely new landscaping project at Open City festival. Then we finalized it, reworked it, revised something and moved from student to professional work. We included some areas, which were not included in the former boundaries of the project. There was one area in the center, called Center 2.0, and a second area, a lighted path connecting two districts. In addition, the project included a ski trail that runs for 2 km through the cedar forest that surrounds the city, a Nordic walking trail, and several other facilities that were requested by the residents.
Another important component of the project from our point of view is the ship-slide, which the residents also liked very much. It has an interesting history. At the founding of the city, the residents built a wooden ship with their own hands for children to play in. It was lost over time, but the residents remembered it. We decided to build a new and improved wooden ship with modern slides and with a filling which will be in demand both in winter and summer.
To bring people of all ages together, there is an area of the urban vegetable garden where any resident can plant flowers or plant something to use in their home.
There are suspended swings that can be used by both children and adults in winter and summer. The landscaping area also includes an existing cafe.
All elements will be made of wood - there are a lot of forests around, there are wood processing plants nearby, and, of course, local materials are more convenient and cheaper. And the name of the city binds. With this project made by Yulia Nurutdinova's team, we won. This is very cool!
-Will you participate in project’s implementation?
We hope so. The regional administration really liked the project. This is an important victory for the region, which they are proud of. At the award ceremony in Voronezh, there was a whole team from both Tomskaya Oblast and Kedrovy: the deputy governor of Tomskaya Oblast, the mayor of Kedrovy and their assistants. The deputy governor expressed great gratitude to the team for their work. Out of the 4 applications that Tomskaya Oblast made for the contest, only one won - ours. And now they really hope for further cooperation and that we will supervise the project at the stage of implementation. In June, they invited us to the conference of chief architects which will be held either in Tomsk or Tomskaya Oblast.
- At the awarding ceremony, it was repeatedly told that the improvement program must be linked with other programs, and only then the effect will be complete.
- In Kedrovy this is just the way it is. Other programs also include funding for the creation of a comfortable city. Our project also takes this into account. For example, the city budget includes funds for a small architectural form where you can hang locks for weddings. There is a reader's square planned with a gazebo or a covered area near the library. Fitness equipment is going to be installed for older children. It shows that there are local places for which there is already an understanding and funding/ We have combined them in our project and received, as we hope, a good solution to create a comfortable city.
- One of the conditions of the competition is to attract extra-budgetary sources of financing. Is this working out in Kedrovy?
-Yes, this was also taken into account in the bidding process. There are already several agreements with individuals who are willing to allocate funds for implementation. This includes large enterprises and companies with which the city constantly cooperates. It turns out that about 20% of the funds needed for implementation are extrabudgetary funds.
-What did participation in such a seemingly small project give you as a professional?
- Satisfaction. We were able to create a project that the residents liked. The town is small, but the 2,000 people who live there now know that their opinion matters, that they can implement some of their plans or ideas and participate in public life. This is really important and valuable for any person. And we helped them to do that.