What will help Norilsk become the global center of the Arctic


The Russian city of Norilsk, located in the Arctic, has the status of the most populous city in this climatic zone in the world. However, the city does not have points of attraction for the international community. The city authorities took care of this issue and announced a competition for the redevelopment of the urban space and functional environment. What will help Norilsk get the title of the global center of the Arctic?
Kees Donkers is a leading urban designer in the city of Eindhoven (Netherlands). A person known far beyond the borders of his country. At the scientific-practical conference “Development of the Arctic: nature, city, people”, which took place in Norilsk, he spoke with a sore subject for an industrial city: he told how to turn abandoned factory buildings and non-residential buildings into actual public spaces.
Kees Donkers himself is known for the fact that he and his team managed to give a second life to the city of Eindhoven. Earlier the giant Philips left the city. Like Norilsk and many other Russian monocities, Eindhoven was the city of one city-forming company. But in the 1990s, Philips moved production to China, and managing team to Amsterdam. “When the industrialists left, our city became one of the ugliest in Holland,” recalls Kees Donkers. – What is called a crisis happened. It was in the nineties. We lost the industry, but started developing design. And already in 2012 they competed with Helsinki for the title of the world design capital ”.
With the support of the Mayor of Eindhoven, it was possible to unite the efforts of the municipality, business, the Technical University and all interested citizens in order to find new ways of developing the city. Under the leadership of Case Donkers, a plan was developed to revitalize the five industrial spaces on which Philips was based. In particular, the project brought together the De Witte Dame (White Lady) lamp factory, the most famous building previously owned by Philips, with the city center.
Now the former factory building is a popular and visited place. The Municipal Library, Eindhoven Design Academy and shopping districts are located inside. To finance a large-scale “reboot” of the entire look of Eindhoven, Kees Donkers created a special fund. In 2010, the city authorities stopped subsidizing it, but Donkers continued the business on his own.
Eindhoven today has an ultra-modern look. The city, which depended on the one company, has transformed in literally 20 years, turning into a beautiful independent place. On tourist sites, former abandoned buildings are now included in the list of city attractions.
At the conference held in Norilsk, another foreign expert, soil scientist Graham Spiers, clearly showed how it is possible to restore nature after anthropogenic destruction. He shared his experience in reclamation of the Canadian city of Sudbury, which is also in many ways similar to Norilsk.
The experience of two foreign cities, Eindhoven and Sudbury, is consonant with what Norilsk is already doing, says Maxim Mironov, a representative of the city development organization. “In April, together with the Urbanika Institute for Spatial Planning, we presented the Norilsk master plan. Along with other conclusions and suggestions, the analysis of the situation showed the lack of high-quality closed public spaces. To solve this problem, the agency, with the support of the city and the production company Norilsk Nickel, is working to create an urban public space in the building of the former technical library. The second project is the opening of a modern digital education center. The future “IT-club” will create a basis for solving urgent technological problems of the territory, will contribute to high-quality digital education for children and youth, ”said Maxim Mironov.


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BDC 317 : Jun 2024