Norilsk Design Competition, North Russian Architecture Contest, CENTER Lab News
Norilsk Open International Design Competition
19 January 2022
Interview with a member of Norilsk Competition Jury, Cees Donkers
Norilsk Competition in Krasnoyarsk Krai – Interview
Interview with a member of the jury of the Open International Competition for the development of an architectural and planning renovation concept for the city of Norilsk up to 2035, with an architect, an urbanist the ideological reformer of Eindhoven during the crisis of the 1990s into the most important design and scientific center, one of the founders of the Dutch Design Week exhibition Cees Donkers
First of all I would like to make a big compliment for the way this whole competition is organized. Especially to my dear friend Maksim Mironov, with whom I got acquainted with during my first visit to Norilsk in September 2019. It seems to me that he was able to prepare, connect to networks of people and install this organizing team together with his agency in a perfect way. It’s an honor to be part of this jury!
1. You were in Norilsk. What are your impressions of the city?
After a long trip from my home town via Amsterdam, Moscow and a night fly I landed in the early morning at Norilsk Airport. My first impression was the astonishing flat landscape with typical brown colored nature in a misty morning light. Impressive beauty. Together with my host we drove in the taxi to the city and I told her that it felt to me like ‘surfing the waves’ of this moving permafrost ‘earth-sea’ (I am a windsurfer myself). It made me aware of one of the typical elements of the identity of this region. May be also about the ecological restoration that I have read about in the introduction papers.
The abandoned buildings on the way but also the huge and beautiful murals on some of the housing blocks at the entrance of the city related to the cold climate with painted pole bears showed some independency and new creative energy to me.
The welcome of my inviting host and is young team of NDA was very warm and heartfelt. Later on, during the informal program I went to places that are typical for the identity of Norilsk like the abandoned old mines in the hills with the monument for the gulag camps with the different nationalities. It made a big impression on me. But also the actual more industrialized mines where we went in with a group. At last the very modern digital guided installations as a 3rd kind of transformed industry and nowadays way to make use of the special and unique treasures of the earth.
For me it was important to see the places where industry has left and where new opportunities were waiting to be found and used. A bit like it happend in my city Eindhoven where empty factories of the former PHILIPS industry were re-used for a new creative economy. Young graduates from university and start-ups, but also people who lost their jobs were able to create their own low-cost companies in new cooperatives. But also new forms of housing called ‘loft-housing’ were introduced in these empty factories and gave a new future to a younger generation. It feels like my mission to encourage citizens to get inspired by good examples in other cities to this kind of evolution and transformation to a new 2.0 city.
2. What is your vision for the future of Norilsk, and what would you like to see in submissions to the competition?
The competion is mainly focussed on a view on the physical and urban development of the city, its landscape and also economic and touristic promotion. For me the social development is also an important second part of this view on the future. I myself found out in my city that the ‘voice of the citizens’ is important to listen to. It can be the base for the acceptation and support of these future plans. Organizing small scaled dialogues in a cafe situation and workshops can help a lot to invite and even seduce people to join the conversation.
In my city we organized QAFE-sessions (Q to talk about the Quality of the city in a cafe setting) in a small theater in the early evening to get some inspiration from 3 short pitches by experts about a topic. After that a little dialogue with them and the audience via a moderator, but stop in time after about 2 hours to have a beer together at the bar to continue discussing! It can create a cultural atmosphere to hear, listen and form a bridge between local policy and daily urban life.
My vision on the future of Norilsk is about the right balance between these 2 components: good research and scan of the DNA and the unique aspects of the region translated into an urban plan for the future development (1) in balance with a social design concept of a new creative economy as a base for human energy and happiness (2).
In a more practical urban way besides the transformation of the local industry and economy and supporting infrastructure it means wel designed urban settlements that can be seen as ‘villages’ in the city. A city made out of of villages with strong and self supporting communities.
3. How do you find the level of the selected finalists?
The fact that all finalists are teams with specialists from different offices and expertise shows the united efforts to take part in this competition and aim for great quality. The different views that will be presented in March can be seen as the generated thinking power of the professional society nowadays.
I myself suggested in the jury to get even more, and may be foreign, specific knowledge to use worldwide expertise in the typical environmental aspects of the climate, surface and earth layer conditions of the Norilsk or arctic region. The same like human knowledge from different countries is used in a cooperative way for space research and international labs in space like the ISS. I really am looking forward to this moment of presentations in March.
4. What do you expect from the finalists?
We live in an age of big changes and therefore chalenges in climate, health, environment, use of the earth, transport, infrastructure but also social changes by new technology for instance in digital communication, way of life after covid and social behavior.
I expect from the finalists that they come up with dynamic views on the future in which there is room for these changes. So no more static models of urban planning and blueprints for a new urban development but scenario’s for a new decade based on research of the DNA of the city/region and its inhabitants. I hope there will be room for urban dialogue to steer these in an open and transparent way to get the right base between professional urban development and a social base for implementing this development in, and together with, the local society.
Via digital messages from my Norilsk friends I see some beautiful bottom-up initiatives in workshops and local startup activities to create small competitions for products that tells the story of the region. Also the winning products and design is presented in small exhibitions! It is a beautiful way to show the vibrant and active society creating new DNA to be proud of. I would like to encourage these kind of activities and production. May be also related to education. So small courses using nowadays technology to show new use of old and traditional issues. I woud like to support this new way of education and development of personal skills of a new generation like I have presented during my stay in september 2019 for the students at the local university.
New Year’s Eve exhibition-sale of the “North” collection that was held in Norilsk
Items of clothing, souvenirs, accessories and functional interior items – the result of creative efforts by authors from Zapolyarya and New York – are becoming increasingly popular among Noril residents and guests of the city. At the request of the citizens, the craftsmen hold the closing exhibition sale for the coming year.
post updated 15 September 2021
An Open International Competition for the development of an architectural and planning renovation concept for the city of Norilsk up to 2035 was announced today by the TASS information agency. The competition was initiated by the city administration and the Norilsk Development Agency (ARN). The operator is CENTER Lab, an international urbanist laboratory.
Norilsk Design Competition in Krasnoyarsk Krai
The competition participants will be given a particularly challenging task: they will need to take into account the unique geographical location of Norilsk, as well as its climatic characteristics, historical development features, and the new vision for its territory. Norilsk is currently seeing active development both as a world-class metalworking hub and a skill, knowledge, and research center in the Arctic.
The design contest press conference was attended by Dmitry Karasev, head of the city of Norilsk; Maxim Mironov, Director of the ANO “Agency for the Development of Norilsk”; Larisa Zelkova, Senior Vice President-Head of the HR, Social Policy and Public Relations unit of Norilsk; Sergey Georgievsky, founder of the CENTER Group of Companies.
The press conference dedicated to the start of the competition can be viewed at the link in the playlist of the project on the YouTube channel of the Agency “CENTER”:
15 Jul 2021
Location: Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, northern Russia
Norilsk Calls For Architects Around The Globe
Norilsk Open International Competition
The mission is to evolve from the concept of a monocity, where the entire community works in a single industry. Norilsk wants to expand its specialization by supporting business, creativity, and tourism.
“All of us have a lot of work to do if we want to renovate the city of Norilsk. The process will include renovating the existing housing stock and building new residences, schools, kindergartens, outpatient clinics, and other social facilities. The concept will, first and foremost, give us a future-focused understanding of our city’s architectural and planning features.
The wishes and suggestions of the local community will absolutely be reflected in the Norilsk renovation concept. What we are talking about here is a qualitative transformation of the city, meaning that we will have to use the latest innovative materials and technologies. The competition for the development of an architectural and planning renovation concept for the city of Norilsk up to 2035 is an international event, so we are expecting to see a lot of interesting ideas and proposals from all over the world,” says Dmitry Karasev, mayor of Norilsk.
The international competition is open to Russian and foreign professional organizations specializing in integrated land development and urban planning, architecture, design, creation of concepts for the development of public spaces, master planning, who are able to attract specialists in economics, finance, and content programming.
The participants will have to propose solutions on making the city more appealing as a place to live, study, and work in; improving social activity in urban areas; overhauling the existing territories; and developing the transport and engineering infrastructures.
“Just as the initial city development in Norilsk was carried out in the classical revival through the efforts of architects and town planners from different cities and republics, the current renovation of Norilsk will also be a team project involving professionals from all over,” says Maksim Mironov, director of the Norilsk Development Agency. “The renovation of Norilsk is currently the Arctic region’s most ambitious project aimed residential, social, and utility infrastructure construction. The final execution will follow the architectural and planning concept selected during the contest, and will involve highly qualified professionals with relevant experience.”
The judges will include government officials from Norilsk and Krasnoyarsk Krai; representatives of Nornickel and the Norilsk Development Agency; and Russian and international experts in integrated land development, ecology, economics and spatial planning, marketing and communications, and technologies and innovations.
“When I visited Norilsk a few years ago, I was amazed to find many, many people who were interested in building something new in their city. The creation of these new facilities is an immense challenge for Norilsk due to its highly specific location and climate. The city needs to find creative, contemporary ideas. I am confident that this competition will bring together the international knowledge and experience of talented architects and urbanists,” said Cees Donkers, architect and urban designer from the Netherlands, during a conference call.
The creation of the architectural and planning concept is an important stage of the city’s social and economic development program under the four-sided agreement between the government of the Russian Federation, the government of Krasnoyarsk Krai, the Norilsk city administration, and Nornickel.
Signed in February 2021, this document allocates RUB 120 billion for the program’s collective funding. Out of this amount, RUB 24 billion are provided from the federal budget; 14.7 billion come from the consolidated budget of Krasnoyarsk Krai; and 81.3 billion are invested by Nornickel. The company also intends to provide up to RUB 150 billion of additional funding until 2035.
Nornickel’s goal is to create favorable opportunities and environment for the city’s development and sustainable growth. Today, we have every opportunity to turn Norilsk into a city of the future. To achieve this, we need to engage with the best experts from Russia and beyond, and use the latest architectural and technological solutions, both when designing residential buildings and public space and when creating a utility infrastructure,” comments Larisa Zelkova, Senior Vice-President at Nornickel.
To take part in the competition, candidates need to fill out an application on the official competition website at: https://norilsk2035.ru/en between July 13 and September 21, and provide a portfolio of completed projects that demonstrate relevant experience, along with an essay with a description of ideas for the future development of Norilsk that would maximize its potential.
In October, the judges will assess the applications and select the three finalists. The finalists will then start working on Norilsk renovation concepts. The competition will complete in March 2022.
“The competition that we announced today is truly global, not just in format but in meaning as well. The world will give Norilsk its best practices in territorial development, urban planning, and architecture; and Norilsk, in return, will give the world a unique case of urban renovation beyond the Arctic Circle, and demonstrate its new development ambitions. We are hoping that the experience that the participants will leverage when designing their submissions will spur on the city’s long-term development,” highlights Sergei Georgievskii, cofounder of CENTER Lab.
Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia
Norilsk is a city built in the Russian Arctic, almost exactly on the 69th parallel north. It is one of the coldest cities in the world and the northernmost community of over 150,000 people. The origins of Norilsk go back to the discovery of rich deposits of nickel and copper in the area. Geological exploration around the modern Norilsk began in 1919. In 1935, a decision was made to build the Norilsk Combined Plant and the eponymous workers’ settlement nearby.
The formation of the existing urban planning structure in Norilsk began in 1939, when the Leningrad architects Witold Niepokojczycki and Lydia Minenko were tasked with designing a master plan for an “appropriately modern, comfortable city.” The first wave of development was in the classical revival style. In the 1960s, standardized construction trends were introduced into the local architecture, and over time, the city districts were rigidly divided by construction period.
Autonomous Non-profit Organization “Norilsk Development Agency” is a territorial development institution that supports improving the quality of life in Norilsk, developing the social environment and bolstering the city’s human resources. The Agency strives to create favorable conditions for the city’s sustainable socio-economic development, shape a favorable investment climate, and execute economic diversification and urban transformation projects. The Agency’s main focus areas are: business environment development, urban environment development, tourism development, investments, and socio-cultural and educational projects.
CENTER Lab is an international urban laboratory, bringing together unique experts on transforming the environment of the modern world. The laboratory offers solutions both for cities and for territories well beyond their borders. It specializes in analytical research and projects that benefit both businesses and the government. Its main objective is to bring new life to territories of any scale. CENTER Lab and Agency for Strategic Development CENTER are both part of the CENTER Group.
All detailed information about the contest can be found on its website https://norilsk2035.ru/en
Norilsk Design Competition, Russia images / information received 150721
Location: Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, northern Russia
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