American Architect to Design New Type of Housing for Single-Industry Russian Towns

PHOTO by Artyom Korotaev / TASS
Hani Rashid, co-founder of the New York-based architectural firm Asymptote Architecture, is attempting to develop a concept for a new type of housing for single-industry towns in Russia

The pilot projects will be launched in both Krasnoturyinsk, a town 350 kilometres north of Yekaterinburg, and Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a city in Russia’s Far East. The holding company “Energy” is currently working on industrial projects in both places.

Depending on the effectiveness of Rashid’s design, it may be presented to the Russian government as a standard for the development of other single-industry towns, according to Alya Prokofieva, a shareholder in the holding company.

“It's important to develop new approaches for social development, architecture, municipal improvement and creating a comfortable environment in single-industry towns,” said Prokofieva. “Hani Rashid has extensive experience in creating projects for the development and renovation of single-industry towns. The Commission for the Development of Single-Industry Towns already knows about this plan. When the concept is ready, we'll present it to the government.”

According to Prokofieva’s calculations, an urban redesign of this kind of town requires tens of billions of roubles. The new model of prefabricated housing that Rashid is proposing is based on modular homes that can become the residential standard for single-industry towns and hard-hit areas.

“There will be both prefabricated, easy-to-assemble houses along with cultural institutions such as museums,” Rashid told RNS. According to him, the existing buildings in single-industry towns are outdated. “We are trying to find a solution for the 21st century,” the architect stressed.

The concept is scheduled for completion by mid-2017 and construction in Krasnoturyinsk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur will start immediately afterwards. “Energy” is a diversified industrial holding company that specialises in mechanical engineering, the production of precision tubes and research and development.

Architect Hani Rashid speaks during the unveiling of the Hermitage – Moscow museum centre project at the Central Pavilion of Moscow's VDNKh Exhibition Centre. The museum is to be constructed on the grounds of the former ZIL plant

Hani Rashid co-founded Asymptote Architecture with Lise Anne Couture. Their firm designed Changsha Eco Tech City in China, a complex of buildings along the Sheikh Zayed highway in the UAE, an opera house in South Korea and other buildings. Rashid also designed a 150-metre-high residential tower and a new building for the State Hermitage Museum, which real estate developer LSR is planning to build in the northern section of the ZiL automobile plant in southeast Moscow.

The development of single-industry towns is already underway as a part of a federal programme for the development of urban spaces. In October 2016, state agency AIZhK signed a contract with the Moscow-based construction company Strelka KB worth 3.8 billion roubles ($63.7 million). Strelka KB will establish quality standards as well as a list of guidelines for all single-industry towns.

In December 2016, the programme “The Integrated Development of Mono-Cities” was approved. The programme, which runs through 2025, will reduce single-industry towns' dependence on their primary factories and create 230,000 new jobs outside of them by the end of 2018. A development programme focusing on economic diversification and urban planning will be written for all 319 single-industry towns.

About 14 million people, or ten percent of the Russian population, currently live in single-industry towns.