Public Spaces Development Programme
2019 Award Recipient - Public Spaces Development Programme, Tatarstan
“The projects, which are purposefully located in many communities, attempt to elevate the importance of communal space... The Program is also designed to compensate for the badly conceived and often inappropriately scaled spaces wrought by central planning during the Soviet period.”
Tatarstan’s Soviet period, beginning in the 1920’s, saw much modernist construction, with diverse urban locations made to look alike. Many mosques and churches were destroyed, leaving their associated public spaces functionless. The post-Soviet era, and a return to private real-estate ownership, enabled wealthy individuals and businesses to buy up large swathes of land, limiting the population’s recreation options.
The ambitious Public Spaces Development Program seeks to counter these trends and to offer an equal quality of environment to all Tatar citizens, regardless of settlement size. Between 2015 and 2018, it had transformed 328 spaces in 33 villages, 42 towns and two major cities, and embracing both Soviet and longer-standing historical settings.
The project includes water bodies, ponds, embankments, beaches, parks, public gardens, boulevards, squares, streets, and walkways. Most include infrastructure for cultural activities. The spaces are conceived for year-round enjoyment, including during dark winters and heavy snowfall, through eye-catching lighting and sometimes winter sports facilities.
The success of this initiative has led to the introduction in 2017 of a similar program at the federal level.