JUNE 22, 2017


The question of what Square 1905 will be like in the future has long interested the citizens of Yekaterinburg: one day, the plan is to eliminate the parking, another day it isn't; now they are planning to renovate the square within a year, and now they put it off until after the World Cup. However, quite soon the citizens will get a chance to find out about the latest plans and even discuss them. E1 portal interviewed Timur Abdullaev, the founder of ARCHINFORM bureau, on this issue.
On June 28, at 7 pm in Yeltsin Center, KB 'Strelka' will organize a public discussion of Yekaterinburg city center improvements. The most interesting question is regarding the future of Square 1905, as well as Vainera Street, Bankovskyi Street, Teatralnyi Street and the public space in front of 'Dom Knigi'.

Unlike the waterfront zone between Kuibysheva Street and Malysheva Street, which is also developed by 'Strelka', the works in the center of Yekaterinburg will not start in 2017, they could be postponed until 2022. However, the center of Yekaterinburg plays such a big role in public life of the city that it won't hurt to start discussions even ten years ahead.

ARCHINFORM bureau together with 'Strelka' is now working on the image of the city center in 5 years.
'We consider this whole area a unified landscaped system of public spaces', says Timur Abdullaev, 'spaces both transit and event-related. This area should be continual, so that a person walking from the City Pond waterfront in Plotinka area could freely go along Malysheva Street to Bankovskyi Street, then across the square at Bankovskyi and Teatralnyi intersection, along Vainera Street toward 'Evropa' shopping center, to 'Dom Knigi', where a public garden will be arranged on Fevralskoy Revolutsii Square, afterwards reentering the waterfront zone further towards Yeltsina Street.

Some of these spaces are transit because there are no specifically designated public areas there. In such cases, the pedestrian system and street 'cross sections' are reorganized. In particular, public transport lanes and additional pedestrian crossings appear on Malysheva Street, for example, a crossing near Plotinka, so that people don't have to walk to the traffic lights and back if they want to walk along the waterfront. At least, we have this crossing in our project; whether it will actually appear or not, will be clear after discussions with city administration. Apart from that, new road surface is made – in some places, it is broken.

Some public transport stops are also moved. We suggest moving the Lenina Street stop, that is now located in front of 'Evropa' shopping center, closer to 8 Marta street, so that it is closer to the underground station and other public transport stops. This would shorten the transfer time.
The stop on Malysheva Street would also be moved: it is suggested to be moved from Bankovskyi Street towards 8 Marta Street, for the same reasons. Basically, these stops would be located on the corners of the intersection for more convenient transfers.


Further, people would walk along Bankosvkyi Street, which transforms into a boulevard. There we are rearranging the parking system, as currently the cars are practically piled up in chaos, the pavement zone is unstructured and walking is very uncomfortable there. We suggest decreasing the number of cars, align the parking spaces that will remain, widen the pavement zone, add greenery, organize lighting and turn it into a fully functional boulevard.
The boulevard would then flow into the new city square. According to our concept, the latter would be called 'The square of 7 districts'. The idea emerged because a lot has been said about the identity of our urban districts, but there's still no central 'gathering' point, a place for meeting and communicating. Although Square 1905 is a public space, it is not a purely pedestrian zone and it is not a traditional meeting place. We suggest creating new 'history' – with a new square that would be dedicated to the unique identity of each of the districts of Yekaterinburg. This is how the idea was born: to make a kind of a district map carved into the surface one of its central elements.

We wanted this to be an interactive thing: with navigation which would show tourists the location of different places in the city. In order to boost activity here we suggested complementing this place with a dry fountain so that in the summertime the fountain's nozzles would jet water right out of this map and light up. In winter, a skating rink or another type of activity zone (such as an additional New Year entertainment activity zone) could be arranged here. We realize that the square will anyway have a transit function due to the proximity of the central underground station and a large number of people passing through the area on a daily basis. Only now they are making their way among numerous cars, and we suggest excluding parking from the square to give this space to people.
We understand that the issue of parking in the city center needs to be addressed. This is one way or the other connected with gradually restricting the use of private vehicles in the city center. By various means – prioritizing pedestrian traffic, narrowing carriageways, introducing a chargeable parking system. We realize that it would be right to develop a system of some public parking spaces as well, but it is probably out of the scope of works connected with improvement, because it deals with capital construction.

We also suggest arranging a quiet recreation zone near TsUM and along the northern side of the square, planting trees and organizing special platforms which would be shaded by the trees and serve as places to meet and relax.

The area along the southern side of the square should be dedicated to summer cafés. This way, several activity zones will appear here. The surface on the square will be changed completely, with a new interesting pavement pattern emerging, along with new ramified lighting posts. And the whole square gets its own unique character.
What is especially important, the square can be filled with numerous new events: for example, festivals for urban districts, city fairs; it could become a starting point for city tours to different districts of Yekaterinburg. We have met with the representatives of Yekaterinburg Museum of History, who already have experience of creating such events (as in the case of Uralmash) and now they continue this work with other districts. And the new square could play a role in it.


Then we go towards Vainera Street. It currently leads to Lenina Street and ends abruptly there. On the other side of Lenina Street, it is basically a traffic zone with a sidewalk, and pedestrians are definitely not a priory there. We suggest widening the sidewalk part of the boulevard on the side of 'Evropa' shopping center to the maximum at the expense of the carriageway: turning a four-lane street into a two-lane street. Thus, the walking zone would gain over six meters, and pedestrian flow from Vainera Street can continue along this wide pedestrian zone. An opportunity will emerge to plant additional greenery here and place street furniture. Parking spaces would be rearranged and separated from the pedestrian zone by means of greenery. Plus, lighting should be arranged, of course.
Further, pedestrian flow would reach Antona Valeka Street via the pedestrian crossing and get to the sidewalk part along 'Dom Knigi', which would also be enlarged. The carriageway there is also too wide, and the whole area is a chaotic parking. We suggest reducing the parking space, arranging a theme public garden in the central part of the square and widening the sidewalk in front of 'Dom Knigi' so that pedestrian flow could go towards the boulevard diagonally, past the district government building and to the waterfront area.

We think that this area has some kind of a 'memory of place', that many people perceive 'Dom Knigi' as the central bookstore, and that this area could get a new perspective, connected with literature, for example, with the need for libraries in our city. We believe that this space could be turned into a theme library garden. It could host book festivals and fairs, or simply the central place for booklovers, to share books, to have access to online libraries via Wi-Fi. The garden could be filled with literature-based events.

We suppose that in order to zone the square a shaded shelter could be created by means of laminated beam pergolas.
Under the shade, there could be lounge zones with street furniture, where people could stay and relax. We have also envisaged a small café and pavilions integrated into this shaded zone (for instance, for temporary expositions). A small playground would also be located nearby. And closer to the White building, in the green zone of a large lawn, there would be a zone with hammocks, where people could enjoy their solitude and read something.


Finally, about Square 1905. During our discussion, we realized that different groups of population place absolutely different demands on the square, some of them being mutually excluding: some want to save the parking; others prefer to give it up completely; still others want to restore the historical memory and even erect the demolished cathedral; for some people it is a place of cultural and mass events which started here later.

We have tried to leave the square as a large multifunctional space, even partially keeping the parking (we supposed that this parking would be naturally and gradually pushed out from the square by new events that would take place here). That is, we in fact reconstructed only the perimeter of the square by widening the sidewalks along Lenina Street and 8 Marta Street, adding a bicycle lane and separating the pedestrian traffic from bicycle traffic by means of street furniture.

The area behind the monument of Lenin will be transformed into the main event platform. The plinth itself will become an amphitheater, a place to stay. A summer café will also emerge there.
As for the improvement of the zone along the 'Dom Aktera' building and the northern side of Square 1905, we suggest reconstructing the existing breastwall. This needs to be done for providing additional sidewalk in the lower part of the platform, arranging recreation zones on the wall itself, where the lawn is. People could watch the events on the square from up there. There are two breastwalls there, and one of them goes along the bank, where the sidewalk is. Then the sidewalk abruptly ends, and we suggest continuing it and reconstructing the part that is closer to 8 Marta Street.

Overall, we decided to draw from what Square 1905 represents now: it is practically the only central square in Yekaterinburg (as opposed to public gardens, for example) which plays the role of a public venue, where significant city events often take place. And it would be right for the key feature of the square to be connected with events, so that it would not be limited to planting greenery, placing new light fixtures and even capital facilities, but would be saved and, perhaps, even transformed into a central event space, so that it would represent something new and exciting every day.
Author: Alyona Batalova
Source: Е1