Harmonization of Intentions

We met and talked with the chief architect of Genplan Institute of Moscow Grigory Mustafin and the chief architect of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Maxim Efanov – about how the master plan of the city is formed. The key to success: gathering data, digital simulation, working with the city people, thinking infrastructure, and presentation.

Alyona Kuznetsova

Interviewed by:
Alyona Kuznetsova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

09 October 2023
How long did you work on the master plan of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk? 

Grigory Mustafin,
Chief architect of Genplan Institute of Moscow:
We started in 2020, in July 2022 we made revisions based on the results of public hearings; and in September 2022 the document was approved. In parallel, in April 2022, we started working with the master plan for the first agglomeration belt. We combined and synchronized all the intentions for the development of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and as a result, the city received a comprehensive package of documentation for all its needs: urban planning, financing, and presentation of itself at the federal level.

The master plan was preceded by a spatial development strategy development stage, for which we engaged international companies and conducted comprehensive sociological research.

Long-term strategic projects
Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning

Maxim Efanov,
Chief Architect of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk:
In the spatial strategy, we tried out several projects: for example, we started to form land plots for the production of liquefied natural gas. We passed this stage within the framework of the Skolkovo program for training management personnel for the 100 largest Russian cities: we voiced our ideas in presentations and received feedback. And in the process of approving the master plan, we realized that we had additional local tasks and made adjustments. In a word, it is a living and breathing document. Quite large functional zoning gives us a lot of flexibility, and the land use and development rules allow us to fine-tune the details.

Grigory Mustafin: If we trace how the requirements for the development of master plans from the 10th order were implemented, we will see that the developers of master plans are gradually moving from a full classifier of functional zoning of 30 names to increasingly larger zones, which include flexible levers to respond to changing external settings.

  • zooming
    1 / 3
    Agricultural land
    Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning
  • zooming
    2 / 3
    Linear industrial park
    Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning
  • zooming
    3 / 3
    The Energy Valley
    Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning

Is this the reason that Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk needed a new master plan so urgently? The previous one was only adopted in 2012?

Maxim Efanov: The master plan is usually adopted for 20 years, but over this time everything changes, right down to urban planning legislation. In the previous master plan there were no investment projects that we are currently implementing. And in order to form land plots for them, there must be an appropriate type of permitted use. And even if a land plot was formed, we have no infrastructure for it: engineering networks, highways. Simply repainting zones – that’s not how it works. Every three years the master plan definitely needs to be adjusted. As we have already said, it is a living document.

Grigory Mustafin: The new Master Plan has been prepared in accordance with the new legislative requirements, including those for design. The socio-economic development of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk has also had a significant impact on it. We have updated several issues: for example, the previous master plan included the areas of the Ministry of Defense and forestry, and the road was routed through a few “forbidden” areas. We analyzed every conflict of interests and proposed alternatives. A big block of work in the creation of the master plan is the harmonization of intentions and clarification of priorities of the city development.

How do you monitor the actual implementation of the master plan?

Maxim Efanov: A special division of the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning together with the Department of Economic Development is in charge of monitoring urban planning documentation. Having approved the draft master plan, we make sure that the development moves in the vector it was designed for. This is a long-term day-to-day work: to select a land plot, to analyze vacant territories and put them up for auction, to help the land use department to form tender documentation, to determine the parameters of the territory.

Which solutions of the master plan for Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk are already being implemented, and which are in the pipeline? How do you establish your implementation priorities?

Maxim Efanov: Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk now has an overland metro. The previous master plan envisioned taking the railroad outside the city center, but now the approach to this issue has been revised: the railroad has become the basis for the development of the surface metro. Rail buses are used as high-speed public transportation that does not stand in traffic jams and is not afraid of snow drifts and snowstorms.

The entire city transportation network is now formed on the basis of the existing railroad: several interchange hubs have already been opened, and together with Russian Railways we have changed the schedule of freight traffic so as not to interfere with the movement of public transport. Demand for railroads has been growing by multiples every year since the launch. The bet has played out.
Grigory Mustafin: To support this story, we have put into perspective the development of the territory around the surface metro stations in order to capitalize this infrastructure. Renovation of the industrial zone with the creation of a new urban center, development of industrial technoparks, agro-parks, new residential areas are “tied” to the railroad. The alternation of residential areas and economic clusters makes it possible to move towards the concept of a “15-minute city”.

Creation of places of labor application
Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning

Housing construction
Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning

Maxim Efanov: It is also worth mentioning that until 2018, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk had only a narrow-gauge railroad; now it has been “revamped” but not electrified. The rail buses are modern, comfortable, but they run on a diesel engine. Together with PJSC RusHydro, we have launched a program to switch the rail bus to hydrogen fuel, and the same is expected for the rest of the transport, which is now gasified at the expense of the regional subsidy. We are striving for carbon neutrality.

Grigory Mustafin: Our colleagues have chosen a very productive approach: first they invested in transportation, then they developed the territory itself. It is very rare for our cities to have such a well-organized urban planning activity.

What other interesting things can you mention?

Maxim Efanov:  The master plan of the northern industrial zone is ready, this year we plan to do a lottery for the “integrated land development” program. The “UYUN” and “Horizon” micro-districts are under construction, the “Field of Miracles” micro-district has been designed, the first stage of construction of a technopark, an agro-park, an airstrip, a western bypass road of regional significance, a scientific and educational center, a campus for 1500 students has begun. All this was from the very start included in the spatial development strategy and master plan.

These adjustments to the master plan – do they come mostly from “above” or from “below”?

Maxim Efanov: The municipality, of course, understands where housing should be developed and where industry should be developed. But there are nuances that residents know much better. For example, we discussed in detail with the citizens four options for the alignment of the western bypass and the so-called eastern bypass street: we met, discussed the pros and cons, made decisions at the management level and adjusted the master plan in the way we agreed with the residents. Thus, we removed a large block of tension. The number of appeals about violation of citizens’ rights in urban documentation has significantly decreased.

Opinion poll in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning

Grigory Mustafin: This was an initiative of the client and us as a contractor – the legislation provides for interaction with residents only at the very last stages during public hearings. Our colleagues in the terms of reference for the development of documentation included a separate stage for this: telephone and internet surveys were conducted, a platform with a map where you could leave an idea worked, seminars about transportation and the natural framework were held. We literally sat in circles and drew schemes of possible city development. Then we would come separately and show them – this is what we have fixed, what goes into the concept. And then iterations. There were projects in our practice, where less work was done, and it was felt at public hearings. We also met individually with businesses and investors. It would be correct to scale this experience to other cities in our country.

Map of proposals based on the results of work with residents of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning

The Genplan Institute of Moscow has developed a “System of Complex Indicators of Urban Environment Assessment” – how does it help in creating a master plan?

Grigory Mustafin: There is a certain algorithm in the development of any territorial and strategic planning document. Everything starts with data collection work, which in fact never stops: even by the time the master pan is approved, we continue to receive various data from executive authorities, residents, and other sources.

Pre-project analytics
Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning

Your data is information, but information does not automantically equal meaning. Using complex algorithms, we verify the data and turn them into a basis for creating a project solution: we identify problems, potentials, and drivers of territory development. That is, we turn facts into value judgments. Further we do not say: “here is the final correct solution for the development of the city”. Instead, we consider several scenarios: if we do nothing, if we emphasize agglomeration development, or if we invest all investments in the city center. We have made five such scenarios for Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Options of preliminary development scenarios for Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning

Further on, we use this information for modeling apparatus and apply tools that would help to characterize the scenario from an unexpected side, to show the pitfalls. In this process, we try to identify the maximum number of objective pros and cons. And after that we choose either the best scenario or combine the “hits” from all variants.

Analytical models as a tool for assessing development options
Copyright: © Image provided by Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Department of Architecture and Urban Planning

After the selection of the scenario follows nuanced work and refinement. This stage is also accompanied by modeling: we check how the changes affect the load of infrastructure, the provision of residents with certain resources. This tool is also convenient for approvals.
Is the algorithm the same for working with all cities?

Grigory Mustafin: There are nuances. The data is organized differently, the assessment tools differ: somewhere it is related to landscape characteristics, somewhere – to historical and cultural heritage. We try to transform the template in such a way that it is customized to the uniqueness of the city. For example, in Sevastopol, an important factor influencing all decisions is the relief: the city territory is located on terraces, beams, ridges, and you have to take into account the view of the sea – all this affects functional zoning.
In the case of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, especially in the case of the master plan, a lot of attention is paid to the presentation of the work – videos, layouts, infographics, discussion at the Eastern Economic Forum. How important is this part of the work?

Maxim Efanov: The presentation made by the Institute of General Plan together with IND architects on the first belt of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk agglomeration is beyond praise. This is exactly the kind of presentation that is needed to bring numbers, maps, and schemes to the attention of managers and residents, and to show and justify that your project is successful.
Grigory Mustafin: It should be remembered that the master plan for the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk agglomeration and other Far Eastern cities was prepared at a different level, by order of the President. And this is unprecedented: it is the first time in the history of master planning that such a large-scale initiative from the federal government has appeared. The level of involvement of regional governments and federal executive bodies was very high. When we were developing the master plan, we regularly prepared materials for private presentations and discussed them separately with Maxim Oreshkin and Yuri Trutnev. At one point, the jury looked at 10 master plans at once. Then the master plans were reviewed by the President and currently some of them, including Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, have already been approved and are receiving support.

We wanted to showcase the region to the best advantage. We made a 15-minute video with 170 slides, which covered absolutely everything – initiatives, agreements, strategic projects, drivers of economic development. We also made a shorter video with infographics, 3D visualizations, in which we translated the figures understandable to specialists into human language. Then we presented them at the Eastern Economic Forum.
In May 2023, the master plan was presented to the president and approved. After that, special decrees were issued to support infrastructure projects.

Let’s summarize: what is the formula for a viable master plan?
Grigory Mustafin: The first thing is interaction with residents, starting from the stage of forming the first conceptual decisions.
The second is an emphasis on infrastructure development: instead of building a residential area in a field, it is necessary to develop high-speed transportation and focus priority projects on it, taking into account the strategic goals.
The third is to alternate residential areas with economic clusters. In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, this is, for example, an agro-park, which affects the improvement of the island’s food security, the external economic framework, and the possibility of exporting to other regions.
These three things mean a high quality master plan for any city, regardless of its geographic location.

09 October 2023

Alyona Kuznetsova

Interviewed by:

Alyona Kuznetsova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
Feed ’Em All
A “House of Russian Cuisine” was designed and built by KROST Group at VDNKh for the “Rossiya” exhibition in record-breaking time. The pavilion is masterfully constructed in terms of the standards of modern public catering industry multiplied by the bustling cultural program of the exhibition, and it interprets the stylistically diverse character of VDNKh just as successfully. At the same time, much of its interior design can be traced back to the prototypes of the 1960s – so much so that even scenes from iconic Soviet movies of those years persistently come to mind.
The Ensemble at the Mosque
OSA prepared a master plan for a district in the southern part of Derbent. The main task of the master plan is to initiate the formation of a modern comfortable environment in this city. The organization of residential areas is subordinated to the city’s spiritual center: depending on the location relative to the cathedral mosque, the houses are distinguished by façade and plastique solutions. The program also includes a “hospitality center”, administrative buildings, an educational cluster, and even an air bridge.
Pargolovo Protestantism
A Protestant church is being built in St. Petersburg by the project of SLOI architects. One of the main features of the building is a wooden roof with 25-meter spans, which, among other things, forms the interior of the prayer hall. Also, there are other interesting details – we are telling you more about them.
The Shape of the Inconceivable
The ATOM Pavilion at VDNKh brings to mind a famous maxim of all architects and critics: “You’ve come up with it? Now build it!” You rarely see such a selfless immersion in implementation of the project, and the formidable structural and engineering tasks set by UNK architects to themselves are presented here as an integral and important part of the architectural idea. The challenge matches the obliging status of the place – after all, it is an “exhibition of achievements”, and the pavilion is dedicated to the nuclear energy industry. Let’s take a closer look: from the outside, from the inside, and from the underside too.
​Rays of the Desert
A school for 1750 students is going to be built in Dubai, designed by IND Architects. The architects took into account the local specifics, and proposed a radial layout and spaces, in which the children will be comfortable throughout the day.
The Dairy Theme
The concept of an office of a cheese-making company, designed for the enclosed area of a dairy factory, at least partially refers to industrial architecture. Perhaps that is why this concept is very simple, which seems the appropriate thing to do here. The building is enlivened by literally a couple of “master strokes”: the turning of the corner accentuates the entrance, and the shade of glass responds to the theme of “milk rivers” from Russian fairy tales.
The Road to the Temple
Under a grant from the Small Towns Competition, the main street and temple area of the village of Nikolo-Berezovka near Neftekamsk has been improved. A consortium of APRELarchitects and Novaya Zemlya is turning the village into an open-air museum and integrating ruined buildings into public life.
​Towers Leaning Towards the Sun
The three towers of the residential complex “Novodanilovskaya 8” are new and the tallest neighbors of the Danilovsky Manufactory, “Fort”, and “Plaza”, complementing a whole cluster of modern buildings designed by renowned masters. At the same time, the towers are unique for this setting – they are residential, they are the tallest ones here, and they are located on a challenging site. In this article, we explore how architects Andrey Romanov and Ekaterina Kuznetsova tackled this far-from-trivial task.
In the spirit of ROSTA posters
The new Rostselmash tractor factory, conceptualized by ASADOV Architects, is currently being completed in Rostov-on-Don. References to the Soviet architecture of the 1920’s and 1960’s resonate with the mission and strategic importance of the enterprise, and are also in line with the client’s wish: to pay homage to Rostov’s constructivism.
The Northern Thebaid
The central part of Ferapontovo village, adjacent to the famous monastery with frescoes by Dionisy, has been improved according to the project by APRELarchitects. Now the place offers basic services for tourists, as well as a place for the villagers’ leisure.
Brilliant Production
The architects from London-based MOST Architecture have designed the space for the high-tech production of Charge Cars, a high-performance production facility for high-speed electric cars that are assembled in the shell of legendary Ford Mustangs. The founders of both the company and the car assembly startup are Russians who were educated in their home country.
Three-Part Task: St. Petersburg’s Mytny Dvor
The so-called “Mytny Dvor” area lying just behind Moscow Railway Station – the market rows with a complex history – will be transformed into a premium residential complex by Studio 44. The project consists of three parts: the restoration of historical buildings, the reconstruction of the lost part of the historical contour, and new houses. All of them are harmonized with each other and with the city; axes and “beams of light” were found, cozy corners and scenic viewpoints were carefully thought out. We had a chat with the authors of the historical buildings’ restoration project, and we are telling you about all the different tasks that have been solved here.
The Color of the City, or Reflections on the Slope of an Urban Settlement
In 2022, Ostozhenka Architects won a competition, and in 2023, they developed and received all the necessary approvals for a master plan for the development of Chernigovskaya Street for the developer GloraX. The project takes into account a 10-year history of previous developments; it was done in collaboration with architects from Nizhny Novgorod, and it continues to evolve now. We carefully examined it, talked to everyone, and learned a lot of interesting things.
A Single-Industry Town
Kola MMC and Nornickel are building a residential neighborhood in Monchegorsk for their future employees. It is based on a project by an international team that won the 2021 competition. The project offers a number of solutions meant to combat the main “demons” of any northern city: wind, grayness and boredom.
A New Age Portico
At the beginning of the year, Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport opened Terminal C. The large-scale and transparent entrance hall with luminous columns inside successfully combines laconism with a bright and photogenic WOW-effect. The terminal is both the new façade of the whole complex and the starting point of the planned reconstruction, upon completion of which Tolmachevo will become the largest regional airport in Russia. In this article, we are examining the building in the context of modernist prototypes of both Novosibirsk and Leningrad: like puzzle pieces, they come together to form their individual history, not devoid of curious nuances and details.
A New Starting Point
We’ve been wanting to examine the RuArts Foundation space, designed by ATRIUM for quite a long time, and we finally got round to it. This building looks appropriate and impressive; it amazingly combines tradition – represented in our case by galleries – and innovation. In this article, we delve into details and study the building’s historical background as well.
Molding Perspectives
Stepan Liphart introduces “schematic Art Deco” on the outskirts of Kazan – his houses are executed in green color, with a glassy “iced” finish on the facades. The main merits of the project lie in his meticulous arrangement of viewing angles – the architect is striving to create in a challenging environment the embryo of a city not only in terms of pedestrian accessibility but also in a sculptural sense. He works with silhouettes, proposing intriguing triangular terraces. The entire project is structured like a crystal, following two grids, orthogonal and diagonal. In this article, we are examining what worked, and what eventually didn’t.
An Educational Experiment for the North
City-Arch continues to work on the projects that can be termed as “experimental public preschools”: private kindergartens and schools can envy such facilities in many respects. This time around, the project is done for the city of Gubkinsky, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. A diverse educational and play environment, including a winter garden, awaits future students, while the teachers will have abundant opportunities to implement new practices.
Alexandra Kuzmina: “Working is easy when the rules are the same for everyone”
The subject matter of Moscow Region’s booth and presentations at Zodchestvo Festival was the concept of “Integrated Land Development”, and for a good reason: this task is very challenging, very relevant, and Moscow Region has already accumulated quite a formidable experience in this regard. In this article, we are speaking to the main architect of the region: about master plans and who makes them, about where you obtain resources for creating a comfortable environment, about her favorite projects, about why there are so few good architects, and what we should do with the bad ones.
The Cemetery: Inside and Outside
The workshop organized by the Genplan Institute of Moscow scored one of the two first places at the “Open City” festival. Its subject is reorganization of municipal cemeteries. Two action plans were proposed, diametrically opposite: one for the downtown and one for the suburbs.
Our Everything
Who is Alexey Shchusev? In the last couple of weeks, since the architect’s 150th birthday, different individuals have answered this question differently. The most detailed, illustrated, and elegantly presented response is an exhibition held in two buildings of the Museum of Architecture on Vozdvizhenka. Four curators, a year and a half of work performed by the entire museum, and exhibition design by Sergey Tchoban and Alexandra Sheiner – in this article, we take you on a tour of the exhibition and show what’s what in it.
For Mental Reboot
At the architectural competition held in 2023 in Novosibirsk, the project by GORA Architects – a pedestrian bridge leading to the town of Bor – was awarded the “Golden Capital” prize. In this country, more than a hundred pedestrian bridges are constructed each year. What makes the Bor bridge different?
Gold Embroidery
A five-story housing complex designed by Stepan Liphart in Kazan, responds to the stylistically diverse context with its form, both integral and agile, and as for the vicinity of the “Ekiyat” movie theater, the complex responds to it with a semblance of theater curtain folds, and active plastique of its balconies, that bear some resemblance to theater boxes. Even if excessively pompous a little bit, the complex does look fresh and modern. One will have a hard time finding Art Deco elements in it, even though the spirit of the 1930s, run through the filter of neo-modernism, is still clearly felt, just as a twist of the Occident.
The restoration of the Salt Warehouse for the Zvenigorod Museum, on the one hand, was quite accurately implemented according to the design of the People’s Architect, and, on the other hand, it was not without some extra research and adjustments, which, in this case, was quite beneficial for the project. The architects discovered the original paint color, details of the facades, and studied the history of rebuilds of this building. As a result, the imposing character of the empire building, the oldest one in the city, and the differences of later additions were accurately revealed. Most importantly, however, the city got a new cultural and public space, which is already “working” in full swing.
From Moscow to Khabarovsk
This year, the works submitted by the students of the Genplan Institute of Moscow included a proposal for revitalizing Moscow’s “Pravda” complex with its structures designed by Ilia Golosov, landscaping an East Siberian town, located a 12-hour drive away from the nearest big city, and three versions of turning a derelict “pioneer camp” into an educational hub, similar to “Sirius”. Two sites out of three have an interested client, so chances are that the students’ works will be ultimately implemented.
Harmonization of Intentions
We met and talked with the chief architect of Genplan Institute of Moscow Grigory Mustafin and the chief architect of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Maxim Efanov – about how the master plan of the city is formed. The key to success: gathering data, digital simulation, working with the city people, thinking infrastructure, and presentation.
​Cité for Naro-Fominsk
The new neighborhood on an island in the center of Naro-Fominsk continues the ideas of developing the territory of the silk-weaving factory, around which the city actually formed. The authors skillfully mix different formats of mid-rise development and make the most of the island location, offering a variety of formats of interaction with water, available to all citizens. No wonder that the project is considered exemplary and worthy of duplication in the region. It is also an example of rare synergy between the client and the architects.
A Tower and a Manor House
The concept of a high-density residential district replacing a set of outdated privately owned houses in Yekaterinburg preserves the street grid and, in some cases, even the scale of construction. OSA Architects combine towers with townhouses and other types of housing, orienting the silhouette composition towards a pedestrian boulevard. Through non-linear routes and spatial diversity, the residents will see their neighborhood in a new way every day.
​The Warm Stone
The housing complex in Zelenogorsk is interpreted by Mayak architects as a scatter of stones. The unconventional outline of houses with a pentagon plan not only helped to form the image part of the project, but also facilitated the architects’ work with the density of construction and insolation of the apartments.
For All Times
The modular technology combined with the building material of glued wood allows the architectural company Rhizome to create quick-mount hotels (no less!) that are highly rated by the architectural community: last week, the new hotel “Vremena Goda. Igora” scored three awards. Below, we are examining the project in detail.