AUGUST 01, 2019



Twenty-nine projects to improve the urban environment were presented in Yekaterinburg. The projects were developed as part of the Summer Architectural School 2019 at the SCA LAB Urban Architectural Laboratory. The program's graduates presented their ideas for the reconstruction of cite center promenade areas, including the pedestrian Vajnera Street; came up with solutions to revitalize abandoned buildings; and contemplated on what could become the city's architectural landmark.
'Becoming conscientious and responsible citizens'

The 'Summer Architectural School 2019' program lasted two months. As part of the program, its participants – senior school students – listened to lectures from experts in the field of architecture and design. They also participated in several city tours that helped them understand the city's organization better.

'An important element of our program is fostering the right attitude towards the city. And it is not only about professional self-identification. It is about adequate perception of the surrounding environment, which, in the end, helps become conscientious and responsible citizens', Timur Abdullaev, the founder of the School of Chief Architect and ARCHINFORM architectural bureau said. He was the initiator of the Summer School program. According to Abdullaev, 'in a city, there is lack of respect towards each other'. 'And it reflects badly on those structures that are now being built in Yekaterinburg, on the atmosphere in which we live', the expert is certain.

Apart from theoretical lectures and tours, the program also offered master classes where the participants could, for instance, exercise their sketching skills and study graphic software like Archicad. All this was handy in the process of developing their own projects.
A 'Fairytale alley' on Vajnera Street, an art space on a parking lot and other projects

By noon July 30, the library in the ARCHITECTOR gallery (SCA-LAB's partner) was lined with presentation boards displaying the Summer School graduates' projects. Overall, there were 29 projects, the authors of which made their best to present their ideas professionally, creatively and in detail.

'We tried to choose topics that are application-oriented as much as possible. The projects were mostly connected with specific tasks or areas that the students of our school see daily. They chose these topics because they feel the connection with the city and believe that they can influence the development of the urban environment', Timur Abdullaev mentioned.

Each project addressed one of the four topics. The graduates expressed their ideas regarding what a pedestrian street should look like; where the creation of new parks and public gardens and the reconstruction of the old ones is needed; how to revitalize abandoned or simply old buildings; and fantasized about central urban spaces that could become Yekaterinburg's landmarks.

'The depressing ruck of block 5-storey buildings creates an unpleasant atmosphere', with these words Aleksey Plaksin began his presentation. He wanted to transform the 'unsightly, ineffective 60s buildings' by creating a 'pop of color in Uralmash'. He suggested a new compositional solution for facades with bright colors and organization of half storeys, by changing the shape of the roofs. In the abandoned yard space, the author suggested organizing a gym and a children's playground.
Marina Moskovskih, another School graduate, complained of the fact that Yekaterinburg doesn't have enough park zones and suggested organizing a 'Zauralje' museum park dedicated to the history and culture of the Ural region, not far from the city center, at a currently abandoned site near the intersection of Belinskogo Street and Furmanova Street. The author suggested organizing several landscaped zones and improving the waterfront area.

Lera Safarova thinks that the park in Uralmash, near Mashinostroiteley Street and Kirovgradskaya Street, should be revitalized. 'My parents often reminisce that this place used to be an attraction point for people of all ages. Now it's an unkempt area, and it will hardly cross anyone's mind to take a walk there', she said. The author suggested creating several zones in the park, including a ropeway, a children's playground and a free Wi-Fi zone.

Yekaterinburg's central areas weren't overlooked either. Elena Grushchina presented her idea of organizing a 'Fairytale alley' on the pedestrian Vajnera Street. Drawing upon the works of Pavel Bazhov, she presented an architectural model of an entertainment venue, the design of which featured the images of the writer's tale characters.

The attention of many members of the audience was also drawn to the work of Daria Potapova. She presented her project of 'The Ural Ridge' – a three-storey multifunctional complex of a complex geometrical shape, which could be built near the railway station, as a possible new landmark for Yekaterinburg. 'It could feature recreational zones and cafes that are currently in short supply in this area. Apart from that, there could be special QR codes placed in the building for learning about the Ural's history – any smartphone can read them, and it would be an interesting and fun way of getting new information', the author of the project believes.

Emma Reshke admitted that for her and her friends there aren't enough art spaces in Yekaterinburg. 'It seems important and necessary to create a cultural space where creative people could present their work. This will also help raise the citizens' interest towards art', Emma thinks. According to her, the top floor of the 'Park House' shopping mall is a perfect site for this. 'It is currently an abandoned space that is not used in any way. I live nearby and I often see it, and studying at the Summer School I have come up with a way to change it', she said.

The graduates also told us about other projects. For example, it was suggested that an abandoned hotel could be turned into a cinema; a medical center called 'The Street of Health' could be created in the southwestern part of the city; a 'Sports Center' and a meteorology museum park with three zones: 'Ice cave', 'Cloud' and 'Eternal summer'.
'Looking at the city through a fresh lens'

Many graduates mentioned after their presentations that participating in the School's program had helped them take a different look at the profession of an architect. 'This may sound strange, but I really love studying. Besides, I'm dreaming of becoming an architect, and when I saw an advertisement about the enlistment into the Summer School in my lyceum, I thought it was a good idea to try. The first month was mainly devoted to lectures and city tours, thanks to which I, together with the other participants, looked at the city though a fresh lens. Of course, I had loved Yekaterinburg before, but when I noticed certain ugly, unkempt areas of the city, I used to think, 'At least there are many other beautiful places where it is nice to be'. Now I have realized that making the city better and more comfortable is up to me. I hope that I can do it because I am going to enroll into the Ural State University of Architecture and Art', Emma Reshke, a School's graduate, shared her impressions.

Timur Abdullaev, in turn, pointed out that the Summer School helped unlock the creative potential of the participants. 'In my opinion, it is important to decide what you want to do in life, before you have to go to university. The concept of our Summer School allows the participants to experience the architectural environment and perceive themselves in it; to understand that architecture is not only about creating material objects, but also about communication with a wide range of people. You should be able to process a lot of information, to analyze it and to understand that you can generate something yourself and put it out there, into the surrounding world', Abdullaev concluded.