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Competition: The Spit in Nizhny Novgorod

The Union of Moscow Architects has launched an international ideas contest to remasterplan a prominent waterfront area in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia (Deadline: 30 August)

The anonymous competition, open to teams of architects, town-planners and conservationists, seeks proposals for a new recreation-led district on a large plot known as The Spit at the junction of the Volga and Oka rivers.

The call for ideas is part of the city’s upcoming Eco-Shore 2017 festival, and aims to boost interest in the regeneration potential of the area. It is a short distance from the under-construction Nizhny Novgorod Stadium where World Cup matches will be played next year.

The Spit in Nizhny Novgorod

The Spit in Nizhny Novgorod

Source: Image by A Savin

The Spit in Nizhny Novgorod

According to the brief: ‘The main task formulated for the competition participants is to suggest a conceptual solution demonstrating a contemporary approach to the complex development of the introduced site and to transformation of the former storehouse and public utilities areas of the Nizhny Novgorod spit into the new spaces with elements of public, tourist, and recreational infrastructure integrated into the context of the already existing historical and cultural environment of the city.

‘The competitors must offer a town-planning composition, functional zoning and principles of territory improvement intended for active public use and recreation. It is necessary to suggest an approximate nomenclature of buildings, which are supposed to be located in this territory, their functionality, to provide for an easy access to technical services and their maintenance, as well as to envisage a necessary number of parking spaces for both: motor cars and tourist buses.’

Nizhny Novgorod, around 400km east of Moscow, grew into one of the most important scientific, educational and cultural centres of the Russian empire. During the Soviet era, it was renamed Gorky after local author Maxim Gorky, and transformed into a major military-industrial hub.

Despite being closed to foreign visitors during this era, Nizhny Novgorod continued to play an important role in river-based tourism due to the confluence of the Volga and Oka at its north eastern edge. The Spit hosted the All-Russia Exhibition in 1896 and nearby landmarks include the historic Main Fair Building and the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

The Spit

The Spit

Source: Image by Google Earth

The Spit

Proposals should transform the post-industrial plot into a new cultural, sports and recreational environment, promoting innovative technologies, active lifestyles and the regeneration of the wider riverfront area.

Concepts must take account of the historic cathedral and the new 45,000-capacity stadium. Two surviving warehouses from the All-Russian Exhibition may also be incorporated into proposed developments.

Schemes may feature sports, cultural and entertainment facilities; office buildings; new transport infrastructure; public spaces; museums; shops; cafés; restaurants and hotels.

Digital submissions should include two 140 x 90cm display boards featuring images and text. A judging panel of local and international architects will be announced later this summer.

The overall winner, to be announced on 16 September, will receive around 300,000 Rubles. There will also be a second prize of 200,000 Rubles and two third prizes of 100,000 Rubles. All participating teams will be invited to attend the Eco-Shore 2017 festival.

How to apply


The registration deadline is 15 July and the deadline for submissions is 30 August.

Contact details

The Union of Moscow Architects
Granatny per., 7

Tel: +7 (495) 694-59-22

Visit the competition website for more information

Silvertown Quays case study: Q&A with Fletcher Priest Architects

The London-based practice discusses lessons learned masterplanning a waterfront regeneration in the Royal Docks area of the UK capital

How will your Silvertown Quays project revitalise east London’s waterfront while respecting its heritage?

The Silvertown Quays masterplan will open up one of the key areas of the Royal Docks for the first time in its history. In its industrial pomp it was heaving with activity, but it has always been a secure and enclosed space that was inaccessible to the general public. The shoreline, to the edge of Victoria Dock and with the Pontoon Dock within it, is one of the defining characteristics of the site. From the start of the masterplanning process we thought it was key to retain the traces of this line – made by man and constantly reconfigured over time – into the heart of the plan. We will bring over a kilometre of dock edge into public use and animate it with a range of new public activities. Although most of the buildings that once filled the site no longer exist, those that do remain – Millennium Mills and the Grade II listed Silo D – will be brought back into use and will form key elements of the first phase of the project. It was never a dilemma about whether to retain them; they bring distinctive character to the site and will help shape the identity of the new buildings that will join them.

Silvertown Quays masterplan by Fletcher Priest Architects

Silvertown Quays masterplan by Fletcher Priest Architects

Source: Image by Fletcher Priest Architects and Miller Hare

Silvertown Quays masterplan by Fletcher Priest Architects

Which architectural, material, structural and other methods did you harness in your design?

At the scale of a masterplan as large as Silvertown, it is premature to refer to specific material and structural approaches. Instead, it is the overall character of the site, its remaining buildings and so many of those that once filled the area that will inform the design of new buildings. What ties them together, within a setting that could otherwise be tough and a climate that can be harsh, is an approach to landscape and public realm which helps create a humane and urban foreground setting in which every building need not shout for attention. Our collaboration with West 8, who have been leading the landscape design, has been key to this. The buildings across the masterplan will be characterised by particularly active and permeable ground floors, whatever the building uses on upper levels, and the generation of new architectural typologies for brand buildings and hybrid uses, has been a particularly fascinating challenge.

Silvertown Quays masterplan by Fletcher Priest Architects

Silvertown Quays masterplan by Fletcher Priest Architects

Silvertown Quays masterplan by Fletcher Priest Architects

What advice would you have to competing teams on masterplanning a new future for The Spit in Nizhny Novgorod?

Good luck! Our international competition win for the New Urban Centre of Riga, Latvia, is a particularly relevant experience. We tried to inform the proposals with sensibilities arising from our work on complex UK projects, particularly the need for adaptability to changing circumstances across a large area of city that will take many years to transform. We also spent a lot of time undertaking initial research into the city’s climate and culture to make sure that our proposals would be appropriate for what was, in this instance, the edges of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in a freezing Baltic riverside context. We aimed for clarity, simplicity and logic in the explanation of our proposals. It was this combination of rigour, sensitivity and vision that the judges later told us was the reason we were successful in the competition.

Silvertown Quays masterplan by Fletcher Priest Architects

Silvertown Quays masterplan by Fletcher Priest Architects

Silvertown Quays masterplan by Fletcher Priest Architects

Q&A with Nikolay Shumakov

The president of the Union of Architects of Russia and the Union of Moscow Architects discusses his ambitions for the contest

Nikolay Shumakov

Nikolay Shumakov

Nikolay Shumakov

Why are your holding an international contest to regenerate The Spit in Nizhny Novgorod?

The contest is one of key elements of the annual International Festival Eco-Shore that is devoted to bringing together innovation ideas of architecture development of the coastal areas. The festival was first launched in 2010, and is held annually by The Union of Moscow Architects, which invites professionals to take part in the dialog about ‘aArchitecture and water’ in different formats, namely: themed exhibitions, scientific conferences and architecture contests. The main aim of the contests is to suggest the best solutions to the complex development of the riverside territories.

Russian cities essentially are left behind in comparison to European cities in terms of redevelopment of industrial areas. However, we believe that transformation of industrial areas is an important part of the general strategy for Russian cities that want to compete for business, talents, and jobs. We are very interested in international participants and engaging them to share their valuable and unique experience.

What is your vision for the future of The Spit?

The Spit in Nizhny Novgorod city is set to become a new city recreation centre. The competition projects should incorporate sports, cultural and entertainment facilities and infrastructure for public and private transport. They should also account for museums, hotels, parks, office buildings (maximum five-storey).The main issue for the participants is to take into account that on the construction territory there is an iconic structure: the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (cultural heritage site). It is absolutely paramount to save the dominant position of the monument in the Spit territory. Since one of the objectives of the contest is an ecological development the jury will pay great attention to the principals of sustainable architecture.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Over the last seven years, we have discovered many new names in architecture. In the first three years our contests were mainly aimed at young architects but then we decided to eliminate any age restrictions altogether, and ultimately it proved to be the right decision. Today in conceptual competitions the young architects can compete equally with more experienced peers. The main advantage of our competitions is that the participation is anonymous which means that the jury are less likely to have any bias towards well-known architecture practices. For the contest participants, we offer significant media support. The winning projects are published in the leading Russian professional and national media as well as foreign media partners.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

All the competitions organised in the context of the Festival Eco-Shore had one key aim, namely to demonstrate to the governmental and public institutions how using the architecture is able to change the quality of the environment. Each competition was a catalyst of dialogue between public and professionals. The purpose of the contest in Nizhny Novgorod is to demonstrate to local authorities and citizens how The Spit can be transformed. The authors of the best solutions might be involved in the implementation of the particular projects in the future.


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