Olga Sarapulova, alumna

Olga talks about Ufa’s first urban planning forum, UrbanBairam, taking place between August 2-4, and why the city needs new methods of urban planning. I participated in the research studio ‘Citizens as Customers’ while a student at Strelka Institute. The research methodology used in this studio allowed us to study all the advantages and shortcomings of the existing urban planning system in Russia in detail. In the final report, ‘Dr. Crisis: How We Learned to Stop Faking and Kill the Microrayon’, that I prepared together with Nat Chamayeva, we came to the conclusion that the existing system can only be changed when people who are interested in improving the quality of life in the city start working together.

This summer, I participated in a week-long workshop at the National School of Young Urban Planners in Ulyanovsk. During the workshop, we conducted a thorough analysis of the city and developed four proposals for its development. The results of the workshop were presented to Sergey Morozov, the Governor of the region. This experience encouraged me to do something similar in Ufa.

The main objective of the UrbanBairam forum in Ufa is to initiate dialogue between officials, business representatives, professionals and citizens on how we, as residents, see life in our city. New methods of urban planning and the necessity to develop a strategic plan of development for Ufa are going to be discussed at the forum. Possible development scenarios for the city will also be developed in ‘Ufa: looking into the future’, a two-day workshop that will be part of the forum.

The name UrbanBairam comes from the name of an Islamic holiday celebrated in Ufa, kurban-bairam, the main practice during which, is an offering. As we want to discuss new approaches to urban planning during the forum, this name symbolises the context of deliverance from the existing system of urban planning that has been inherited from Soviet times.

Currently, the city is developed according to a master plan that was approved in 2006. Because of out-dated methodologies used in its development, not even 15 percent of proposals it contains can be realised. Furthermore, the city risks losing its identity because of the large amounts of spontaneous development taking place. I think now is the time to take serious decisions and change the existing situation.

The forum is supported by Ufa’s Chief Architect and city administration, and many officials are also involved as speakers. I have invited Strelka alumni from Ufa - Pavel Geichenko, Gulnaz Aksenova and Albina Davletshina, to participate. Each of us is going to speak about the research projects we did at Strelka and share our visions on city development.

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