Support for green urban development in small and medium-sized cities of Belarus
How to improve cities for people by greening them
Location: Polotsk, Novopolotsk, Novogrudok – Belarus
Client: “Green Cities” project financed by GEF and implemented by UNDP in Belarus
- Three pilot projects to illustrate the principles of Green Cities
- Toolbox that can be applied in other cities of Belarus
- Methodology of participatory processes
Polotsk. Urban development strategy of Gromy district in Polotsk with an area of about 400 hectares. Most of the area’s urban fabric consists of private houses and dacha-garden cooperatives.
The district has a stigma as the most disadvantaged area within the city. Cut off from the rest of the city by railway lines, the connection with neighborhoods nearby is weak and much to be desired. Among other problems of the territory are frequent flooding and gradual water logging. There is a lake in the center of Gromy, where a network of drainage canals led to. Several of them have been illegally blocked by construction works by property owners. This leads to frequent flooding. There is also no centralized sewage system in the neighborhood.
The proximity to the railway station and the city center makes the district very suitable for potential development. In our concept, we propose creating new connections across the railway lines, in order to reduce isolation. Inefficiently used and abandoned brownfield sites will turn into new dense urban blocks as well as light-industrial R&D facilities that have a great development potential due to their location nearby to the central transport hub of Polotsk.
Polotsk has invaluable historical and cultural heritage. One of the main attractions of the city, Saint Euphrosyne Monastery, is located next to the project territory. With other attraction points this landmark will assemble a network of tourist routes that will revive the depressed area and breathe new life into it.
Novopolotsk. The 9th micro district of Novopolotsk is a prime example of late Soviet urban planning.
Such projects have big areas that – with the right strategy – can save cities from sprawling. With changes of the open space quality, they can acquire a new look and feel and become sought places for new residents and developers equally. The micro district shows all the problems of that type of urban neighborhood as can be observed across the entire post-soviet space: monotony of development, an absence of street definition, chaotic greening and owner-less open areas.
When developing the project, the 9th micro district was considered the center of the new Polotsk-Novopolotsk agglomeration. On this scale, a solution to the connectivity problem is laid by reformatting the main city artery – Molodezhnaya Street and improving a speed tram system.
At the level of the micro district, the structure is divided into smaller elements; a logical system of internal streets and pedestrian connections is formed.
The project was developed with focus on the local identity. Interaction with residents for example helped preserving key walking routes and informal and social meeting and sports places.
Monotony is tackled by introducing a more diverse mix of uses and typologies for office and residential that also help creating a system of public, semi-private and private outdoor spaces. The problem of unorganized parking is answered by the introduction of multi story parking garages and a better managed parking system.
Novogrudok. A mixed development area located next to the historic city center. Despite the obvious advantages of the territory, it is characterized by a low efficiency of land use, low quality urban environment and a set of structural problems, such as poor permeability and chaotic planning structure.
The project lays out an irregular structure that resembles medieval cities. Derived from historic transport thoroughfares, it is designed to support the historical nature of the built environment. When developing the strategy for transforming these territories, we formed a system of places, each with a name, a style and a distinct group of future users.
Ecological sustainability is achieved by dividing the area into four categories according to the degree of their “naturalness” which is also reflected in the building typologies present and the type of gardening that fits them. Private gardens where private houses are located, community gardening for the larger apartment complexes.
2019 Concept design, public participation
MLA+: Yulia Drozd, Yana Golubeva, Gavriil Malyshev, Pavel Nishchanka, Gulnaz Nizamutdinova, Evgenia Pavlenko, MiKhail Stepura, Nadezhda Tsarenok, Daniil Veretennikov, Veronika Yamilova