«The top-down command structure is quite rigid»
The discussion of the city and regional chief architects club covered the following topic: 'How to create new value for the area by means of architecture?' Experts from Krasnodar, Kazan, Lipetsk, Kaluga and Voronezh were invited to the discussion.
'Now, a lot is being said about the necessity to upgrade chief architects, their status. Current situation requires quality review. Chief architects should have more authority, more opportunities to influence the architectural and constructional development of our country and our cities', Timur Abdullaev started. He shared his experience: 'I came to Yekaterinburg's Mayor's office as a chief architect without any bureaucratic experience, being a practicing architect. It became clear at once that municipal work is a special sphere of activity with its own working laws and communication systems. On the one hand, a chief architect is a creative person. On the other hand, when he or she enters the authority system, he or she should be no stranger to the instruments and know how to use them', the moderator noted and suggested that the participants of the discussion shared what authority chief architects have in their positions, how influential they are and how they interact with regional authority officials.
'In our region, there is no clear distinction between chief architects of the region and city. There are common tasks. In this respect, we use the experience of mutual project teams that can communicate with each other, for example, to find a quick solution to a specific problem. Besides, now we are discussing the issue of reformatting: of optimal distribution of authority between the region and the city, so that the city would have enough functions to fulfill the tasks set by the administration, in the same way as regions would solve the tasks set by the governor', Naida Ismatulaeva, the Head of Construction and Architecture Department of Lipetsk region, said. According to her, this is a complicated task because chief architect often have to solve problems that go beyond the scope set by the Town-Planning Code of the Russian Federation. This includes the fact that the Code describes modern notions connected with city-planning in 'very distant and general terms'. In particular, this refers to working on cities' masterplans.
The talk about interaction of city and regional teams was picked up by Natalya Mashtalir, Chief Architect of Krasnodar. 'On the one hand, municipal architects have more authority. But, on the other hand, municipal authority depends heavily on the regional one. And if regional authorities do not enact statutory instruments necessary for more active development of municipalities and districts, then municipalities have their hands tied. The top-down command structure 'federation – subject – city' is quite rigid', she said. However, according to her, we should not forget about the top-down structure within the local government itself. 'For instance, in Krasnodar, a chief architect is a person who manages spatial development and changes in the city's appearance. At the same time, we have a mayor, we have a deputy head and the department of architecture. And it turns out that the chief architect is not at the top of the managerial pyramid, but below a large number of people who practically manage him or her', she explained.