‘The temptation as if everything that has been built will be bought should go’

The city authorities urged developers to start thinking about the architecture of the future at Accomplishment architectural and construction forum

“In fact, we have a gap between the flight of the architectural thought and what some developers bring for approval,” Kazan Mayor Ilsur Metshin urged developers to reconsider housing development approaches when delivering a speech at Accomplishment Russian architectural and construction forum. He sees one solution to the problem — a well-thought-out architectural concept, not a profit, must lie in the foundation of a project. Famous Russian architects Sergey Skuratov, Stanislava Bošković from London-based Amber Space and Sergey Senkevich from Apex talked about what impeded architects and developers from cooperating.

“New facilities shouldn’t worsen the quality of the environment”

In 3-4 years, the architectural appearance of contemporary Kazan consisting of primarily Soviet blocks of flats should notably transform. The Kazan authorities expect the implementation of interesting architectural solutions that will change the quality of the urban environment over this time. At least Kazan’s chief architect Ilsiyar Tukhvatullina expressed such brave hope when talking with journalists before the opening of the 1st Accomplishment architectural and construction forum. The forum is created to bring architects and developers together who usually turn out at opposite poles and do not always understand each other.

“Now there is big demand for good teams of architects from developers, they look for those who could offer high-quality architectural solutions. It is difficult to travel across the country in a search for them, this is why we decided to gather them in one place,” she said.

In the last few years, the city authorities have changed requirements for the quality of design solutions by banning high rises on every empty plot of land.

“When they come to me with three towers, I reply: ‘Let’s save your area but will completely reconsider the solutions of the complex,’” the chief architect of the city said and added that at first, this caused great discontent. “When we developed space planning solutions, changed finish materials, unsatisfied companies understood the flats would be sold easier. My stance is unchangeable: new facilities should improve the quality of the environment, not worsen it. High dominants, as I have said multiple times, should appear at the crossroads of big highways and in those places where they serve as architectural dominants.”

Architects to be permitted to show their character in Kazan

Accomplishment architectural and construction forum opened at Ak Bars Retro Cars exhibition centre where about 500 participants gathered. Among them, there were such renowned architects as Sergey Skuratov, Konstantin Khodnev from DNK, Stanislava Bošković from London-based Amber Space, Sergey Senkevich from Apex, partners of TLP architectural bureau Nikolay Lyashenko and Alexander Tsimailo. Managers of big development companies of Kazan also attended the event. For three days, they will exchange experience, discuss interesting developing projects and design solutions to understand Kazan’s architectural appearance in the coming years.

Mayor of the city Ilsur Metshin explained how he saw the appearance of Kazan and the environment. Delivering a speech on Architecture with Character at the plenary session, the city mayor clearly spoke in favour of defining projects by professional architects, not the “greed” of developers. It is time they showed their character in dialogue with developers.

According to him, the authorities came to think of this as early as 15 years ago when the market was in embryonic form, while now when real estate liquidity in Kazan rose, moreover, new requirements will be made.

“We gathered in 2007 and discussed we would do our best to make Kazan a construction leader and make sure the cost of land allows you to implement ambitious projects. Not everybody shared our optimism then, but we did it,” he claimed and reminded the audience, “At least the last decade has been dedicated to changing the urban plan general, design norms, land use and development rules and some other documents, which determined the construction rules in Kazan.”

High housing price provides a chance of investing

The mayor of Kazan stressed that the situation of the housing market gives carte blanche to make bright architectural projects a reality. The city lacks them. “Today the price of a square metre of housing allows you to really invest in projects, in architecture, not only simply build prefab housing. You already create and sell a lifestyle,” he claimed, “Today the construction complex develops in the city, the price of a square metres goes up, which in turn allows developers to elaborate urban engineering projects in detail and attract investors.”

At the same time, he noted that the groundwork of the last decade provided good capitalisation of Soviet housing. “24 million square metres of housing in Kazan has been improved today, a million square metres of housing is delivered a year. But compare modern housing with the Soviet past. Our parents became much richer because their inherited property went up in price. Nobody talks about this. While we say that our grandparents literally became richer.” In his opinion, now the architect’s voice should be louder.

No need to war, better find single-minded people

Stars of Russian architecture, in turn, persuaded the audience that developers are aimed at simple projects with big returns, due to which they are out of step with architects:

“We should constantly show we understand the financial and economic situation and other aspects. But still, our task is to serve society, architects are people who should inspire confidence.”

Moscow architect Sergey Skuratov noted that developers sometimes were surprised at how architects consider every detail of the project.

“Why to bother so much and bother others so much,” he cited developers’ different ideas.

While partners of TLP architectural bureau said they sometimes refused to cooperate if they were in disagreement. They think that there is no need to war, better find single-minded people. At the end of the meeting, the Kazan mayor expressed his hope that architects and developers would be soul mates in the city. “The temptation as if everything that has been built will be bought should go,” he addressed developers.

Luiza Ignatyeva. Photo: kzn.ru