Hi! My name is Ainaz. I’m from Russia (Kazan).
I have graduated from the Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering in Russia this summer. I was delighted to get the opportunity to win a government grant of the Republic of Tatarstan to study for a Master’s degree abroad, and I have decided to spend one year studying Urban Design at Newcastle University.
One of the first memories of my childhood was watching my father build me a tree house in our back garden and me trying to help him. I have always been fascinated by the way things were designed and built, although architecture is not just about building to me. It is about making a difference, trying out something innovative and creating an inspiring and motivating frame for a way of life.
Throughout my research I have been particularly interested in one aspect of urban planning, and that is the revitalisation of cities’ industrial areas. Where I come from, there still exist numerous Soviet times areas, which were designed in order to promote the Soviet ideology, to organise and manage the population and facilitate the hierarchical communication between authorities and ordinary people. As a result of this, and also due to the mass industrialisation and subsequent economic development of the country, there appeared numerous zones, which nowadays are of particular interest in terms of human behaviour research.
Among my works and projects are:
• a theoretical research of theatre types and positioning of theatres in a city, which boosts the economic development of the area;
• a prototype of the village Vvedenskaya Sloboda;
• the graduation project ‘Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Hearing Impairment’.
Given the size of the project (400,000 sq. m.), the theatre design was quite a challenge. It is situated in an unused area bordering a former industrial zone, as well as a residential area under construction. The proposed theatre building was supposed to be part of a complex spacious structure with a multistorey car park, surrounded by a park and landscaped areas. From the image point of view, the objective was to create a building reflecting regional and historical peculiarities of the Republic of Tatarstan, which include traditional Tatar ornaments and colours. At the same time, this building had to reflect the Soviet period in architecture. To achieve the objective, the economic development factor was applied, which is similar to ‘the Bilbao Factor’. It entails creating a piece of architecture that would encourage people to come and spend their spare time here, that would boost infrastructure and stimulate the area growth. The approach proved successful, as in my further studies I discovered that it is applied not only in the above mentioned Bilbao, but also in building museums in Detroit. I find the research of former industrial zones and their subsequent transformation into art- and creative clusters especially interesting.
The second significant stage in my experience was partaking in the KSUAE initiative in the third year of university. Together with our team of architects, we worked on the architectural project of the village Vvedenskaya Sloboda. Students were expected to propose a plan of the small town, which was neighbouring the existing village and was home to a few fishing and textile businesses. Our main aim was to create a prototype of an ultramodern village situated on a complex terrain, using conceptual elements of architecture. When working on this project, we took into consideration the latest trends in architecture, using fresh non-standard shapes and planting them into the existing geo-position. Considerable attention was given to environmental elements, such as forms and shapes of the surrounding space and creating infrastructure that would fully cater for human needs.
My graduation project ‘Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Hearing Impairment’ has become the third stage in my experience. The centre is situated on an abandoned camp site in Zelenodolsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan and is fully supported by the government and local authorities as a focal point for patients with hearing impairment and as a potential employer providing jobs to local people. Unlike with the theatre project described above (the place, where people spend a short period of time and leave), the rehabilitation centre (the place, where people would stay much longer), the goal was to create an environment, which would be comfortable for a variety of social groups, who would spend shorter or longer periods of time here. I also had to account for different localisation of the groups depending on the season - more closed in winter and more open in summer – and the proximity of the railway, the forest, the river Volga and the access road to the centre. The major advantages of the project, in my opinion, are its relatively low cost and an attractive architectural solution.
I see the subject of my Master’s project to be the development of cities’ industrial zones, their revitalisation and subsequent transformation into creative clusters. Nowadays, Russia has a large number of the so-called ‘monocities’ built around a single industry, which are currently going through an economic crisis and have lots of industrial zones that need to be restructured, revitalised and turned into creative art-clusters. Whereas they meet the criteria of a modern city image from landscaping and planning point of view, they fail to do so from the functionality and structural variety point of view.
Take the monocity of Naberezhnye Chelny, for example. With its multistorey blocks dating back to the Soviet times and individual shopping centres in between them, the city totally lacks a creative cluster. As I mentioned above, while studying in your university, I would like to develop a certain matrix of transforming city industrial areas and creating a creative cluster, as I believe that creative industry is the key to growing a city’s economy. As I am interested in the problem of evolution of an industrial city, I could use Newcastle as a prototype of a monocity.
I have decided to do MA in Urban Design at the Newcastle University because its staff has a broad theoretical knowledge in the area of revitalisation and reconstruction of industrial areas. Taking Newcastle as an example, I would like to acquire experience in reviving a city, realizing large-scale reconstruction projects of the most depressed city areas, transforming the areas’ image and modernizing the city transport system.
The British expertise in this area is extremely valuable, and I am planning to actively apply the theoretical knowledge and practical experience gained at the Newcastle University in the growing architecture and construction industry of the Republic of Tatarstan. I would like to learn how to create happy, lively cities, filled with energy and be able to turn any city into a blossoming oasis of successful entrepreneurship, positivity and modern comfort. I also hope to establish connections in this area between the UK and Russia.
Hi! My name is Ainaz. I’m from Russia (Kazan).