TASS, April, 8. Apartment buildings in bright colors, graffiti, “smart” lights and transformed public spaces – designers and urban specialists are using them to make Russian Arctic cities more attractive and comfortable. At times, in the Arctic days may last for 30 minutes, and the polar night is more than 100 days long.
Artists, urban specialists, city officials and activists say they have to think about best design solutions, at the same time minding that construction of houses and parks is in the severe climate conditions and has to be done real promptly. TASS tells about how interesting projects and technologies change the Arctic.
“Houses should be mostly in warm colors to give a balance with the cold coming from snow and with grey overcast days,” Arkhangelsk’s City Artist Mikhail Treshchev told TASS. “This way, we make a more positive emotional background.” A design code, low-rise buildings, and navigation across the city must be everywhere, and first of all in the Arctic. “A combination of comfortable environment, the city’s image, the tourist navigation will give good results,” he added.
The Murmansk Arctic State University shares this opinion. The University’s specialists have launched a big project, dubbed Creative City – Development Territory. “Long winters and the polar night require close attention to choice of color and light,” the University said.
The experts also point it is necessary to focus on local identity, culture and the cities, many of which are located on grounds of the North’s low-numbered indigenous peoples. “What is the basic identity of a city like Murmansk? The sea, the military, keepers of the North, enthusiasts, romantic people, the Northern Lights, legends, the Pomors, the indigenous, the culture, the areas of power,” the University’s experts told TASS.
Another Arctic region, Yakutia, uses alike approaches. Local architects say cities there are built and develop under the standards and norms, which, for example, are applied to Russia’s midland regions, though they reflect the specific northern climate and national features. For example, on the permafrost, most houses are built on piles. Thus, the so-called ground floors are 2.5-3 meters above the ground.
“Heating pipes are mostly on the surface – you can see many heating pipes lie above the ground,” Nikolai Alekseyev of the North-Eastern Federal University told TASS. “Yakutia’s one of the best cities is Nerungri. It was built in the 1980s. The city has micro-districts (where every quarter has all necessary social facilities), and the natural landscape has been persevered there At the same time, modern architecture offers solutions with ethnic coloring.”
The graffiti along the Northern Dvina River’s Embankment in Arkhangelsk demonstrate how local people are eager to add bright colors to everyday life. The 500-meter drawings were made in 2016. “There are images of the Pomors, Mikhail Lomonosov, characters from Pisakhov’s tales (Stepan Pisakhov (1879-1960) is an Arkhangelsk writer, artist and ethnographer – TASS),” the city administration told TASS. “One of the drawings is about 30 meters long. All the images have anti-vandal coatings. The graffiti’s term is more than 15 years.”
Light is no less important for northern settlements, where winter is the biggest part of a year. An example of successful projects is the city lights in Naryan-Mar, the city’s Mayor Oleg Belak told TASS. “We have made lights on Local History Museum, the Central Library, the Central Mai Office, the Epiphany Cathedral, the regional administration and the Marad Sei Square,” he said. “The equipment is water-proof and frost-resistant – it can work even in minus 50 degrees.” The “smart” light turns on automatically as the natural light dims out.
In 2019, the city has installed more than 500 new LED lamps. “We expect to save about 30% of energy expenses,” the mayor said. “For the city, which is north of the Polar Circle, and where practically for three months we use only artificial light, this energy effectiveness was extremely important.”
The Arctic Phenomena lights installations – “light pillars” and “pearl clouds” – decorate the Semenov Lake in Murmansk. The installations make images of the unique natural phenomena, which can be seen in the Far North only. Another town in the Murmansk Region, Polyarnye Zori, which every year is cut off the Sun light for one month, also has upgraded the lighting system. In addition to using new-generation lamps, the local authorities plan to host in December a festival of lights and the first congress on lights design.
Cities in the Russian Arctic zone participate in the National Program – Formation of Comfortable Urban Environment. For example, Naryan-Mar organized in 2018 three centers of attraction. “We have made two new parks – one literature park by the administrative building, another park is for those in love – next to the marriage registration office, and also an observation deck at the Sea Port,” the city’s mayor said.
Yamal’s Labytnangi within two years managed to make a few icons: the Yamal Gates recreation facility’s entrance, light pillars on the Arktika open stadium, the Jubilee park with a descending cascade of stairs, light arches and lit letters, which make the word “Labytnangi.” The city’s Mayor Marina Treskova stresses, every new attraction’s concept is that Labytnangi is a warm city, where everyone feels comfortable.
The Arctic cities’ authorities have to plan and do all works in limited time. “The biggest problem for Naryan-Mar is that we do not have year-round transport infrastructures, thus we have to plan tenders so that all deliveries and works are done within short time periods,” the mayor said. “Realistically, we can be working on the city’s look for only three months a year.”
Arkhangelsk faces similar problems. Besides, the city is located on peat soils. “With time, the peat soil changes, for example it expands with spring waters,” the city’s official in charge of construction, Denis Burygin, told TASS. “Peat is aggressive for metal and cement. This is why all the works to make new parks or recreation areas are extremely complicated both at the stage of projecting and at the stage of project implementation.”
Article Sourced via TASS