It is very odd when a certain structure – a construction company or client's service – tries to predict specific architectural solutions before the start of an architect's work on the design. Historically, the profession of an architect in our country has been demoted to that of a specialist who serves the construction industry; however, this is certainly not what an architects' mission is about.
Nowadays, the situation in Yekaterinburg is ambiguous: the same price segment includes absolutely different buildings. Some make panel high-rises, others work with different-level solutions, with clinker facades, with mid-rise quarter developments etc. Both options are sold equally successfully. I suppose it depends on the consumer's maturity.
In Yekaterinburg, foreign architectural bureaus are working actively. By the way, quite often they do so not only in the residential segment. For example, many concept designs for the projects of Brusnika were developed by the Dutch bureau KCAP. In my opinion, the creation of the notion of product is not relevant in the premium segment where one can afford a lot, but is more important in those cases when there's a need for an optimal correct and economically efficient architectural solution, with creating an architecturally valuable design at the same time. Quite often, techniques and principles offered by
Dutch architects are pretty adaptable to budget-friendly residential properties. However, none of the developers in Yekaterinburg is ready to bear the expenses of paying for the designs of foreign bureaus – they are invited to participate only at the concept stage.
Developers often start with completely erasing the existing identity and then desperately try to create a new one, which is nowhere to be found. They make up some kitsch names for their properties, create some pseudohistory, which they didn't have, trying to fill them with some art objects devoid of any background. If you enter a site, you should value what it has to offer. I keep trying to explain to developers that separate environmental objects can become market advantages and create added value for the entire project.
An architect's art lies in finding balance between private and public interests: on the one hand, they are designing for all the citizens; on the other hand, they work for the specific client. An architect should be able to change the developer's mind with good reasoning and find common language with them. Apart from that, an architect should possess knowledge in sociology, economics and design marketing. In essence, an architect designs not buildings but people's life, broadly speaking.
Yekaterinburg is rich in industrial sites that are currently located in the city center. This is a huge potential for redevelopment. But what is happening in reality? A bulldozer is moving in front of the developer. Construction starts from scratch: a site is completely 'cleaned' from everything that existed there. This is called greenfield development and, of course, has nothing to do with the word 'redevelopment' – let us not fool ourselves.