THE GREAT RUSSIAN EXPERIMENT
25 FACTS ABOUT MURMANSK
1.Murmansk is the largest city above the Arctic Circle with an average yearly temperature of 0 degrees.
Murmansk is the center of the Murmansk region, part of the Northern Economic Zone of Russia. In the north, in the east, and partially in the south, the Region is washed by the waters of the Barents and White Seas. The Murmansk Region borders on Finland and Norway to the east, and on the Republic of Karelia to the south.
According to the Russian regional classification, the Kola Peninsula, despite its arctic location, belongs to the "Near North". This is because it is well developed and populated, located relatively close to the country’s industrial centers (1,000 km from St. Petersburg, and 1,600 km from Moscow), and connected to them by rail, road and flight networks.
2.Murmansk is the largest port of the Barents region (14 million tons), 97% of the turnover is export
The influence of the North Cape Gulf Stream keeps the port open year-round, even though it lies 124 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Murmansk commercial seaport is the second largest port in Northwest Russia in terms of cargo turnover (after St. Petersburg). The port lies at the Northern Sea Route, which is the shortest sea link between Europe and South-East Asia. The main cargo shipped through Murmansk commercial port is currently coal from Kuzbass. The year-round navigation is supported by the nuclear-powered icebreakers.
The railroad, however, has a dead-end 20 kilometers from the port, and many routes to Murmansk are one way only. This means that transport to the port is limited by the current capacity of the railroad link between Murmansk and other parts of Russia.
With the development of Murmansk Transport Hub until the year 2010, the port will be capable of handling 28,5 million tons of goods. By the year 2020, 52 million tons of goods can be transported instead of the current 14 million.
3.Murmansk is expected to become the core city of Shtokman gas field development
The Shtokman gas and condensate field was discovered in 1988. This field is located in the central part of the Russian sector of the Barents Sea shelf, about 600 km northeast of the city of Murmansk at local sea depths varying from 320 to 340 m. The field’s reserves account for 3.8 trillion m3 of gas and circa 37 million tons of gas condensate. The Shtokman development project envisages producing some 70 billion m3 of natural gas and 0.6 million tons of gas condensate annually, comparable to the annual gas output of Norway, one of the largest European gas suppliers.
On February 21, 2008 Gazprom, Total and StatoilHydro signed a Shareholder Agreement establishing Shtokman Development AG as a special purpose company. Gazprom owns 51%, Total 25% and StatoilHydro 24% of the company’s stock.
4.Murmansk is an island of commercial activity flanked by inaccessible areas
Established in 1915 at the end of a railroad line to the Kola Peninsula, it is now surrounded by two categories of towns based on their specializations: closed towns with military functions (Zaozersk, Ostrovnoy, Polyarniy, Severomorsk, Snezhnogorsk), and one-company towns such as Kirovsk, Kandalaksha, Nickel, Pechenga, Monchegorsk, Olenegorsk and Kovdor.
The east part of the Kola Peninsula is almost uninhabited and has neither rail nor motor roads. It is mostly covered by swamp areas and tundra. The only transportation route to rare small settlements is by helicopter and, in some instances, by boat. The west part of the peninsula has some forests and a few motor roads connecting it with Finland and Norway.
5.Murmansk lies between several hills, Kola bay to the west and swamps to the east
These geographic conditions limit city spreading. City development happened mainly on flat plateaus to avoid construction difficulties. Left-over hill sites are voids in the city, hardly used as recreational areas. Murmansk has no park.
6.Murmansk inner city rivers are the most polluted areas in Barents region
With the growing care for the environment, cleaning the city should become a political tool. Unless the companies exploiting Shtokman field register subsidiaries locally, they will end up paying their taxes in Moscow rather than in the Murmansk region, which would mean locals not benefiting from their presence
7.Only 1% of residential buildings are one-family houses
Ecological Footprint analyses show that housing density, distance from the city centre, and the type of housing unit determine the total Footprint of the separate households. Such analyses provide a basis for discussing the different models for sustainable towns. On the one hand, there are those who propose that relatively dense housing patterns, with a low percentage of detached houses, result in lower per-capita consumption. Such compact towns, it is claimed, not only satisfy the principles for energy-saving physical planning, but also generally match up with the demands of sustainable development. On the other hand, there are those who propose a relatively open town structure: green towns, involving the development principle of a potential reduction in the circulation of local resources. The calculations suggest there is a basis for promoting a decentralized concentration as a profitable compromise between the two models. Such an approach involves support for establishing compact "mini-towns".
8.Murmansk is divided into three districts with their own sub-centers
The division in 3 parts is a result of the juxtaposition of a linear structure over the hilly landscape. The band–like structure is curving around the hills, forming three districts.
The oldest central district Oktyabrsky was built after the WWII in the style of Stalin architecture, Leninsky - Khhruschka’s 5-story buildings were built in 60-ies style and Pervomaysky boasts 9 story-housing from the 70-80ies.
9.The city is defined by two types of territory, fully accessible modernist setup and inaccessible industrial areas
The modernist city model has no gradation of public space. Private ownership exists only on the level of housing and parking.
10.Ground floor housing is often abandoned and offers opportunities to extend public space
90% of city buildings are housing blocks with dwellings on the ground floor. As the city shrunk and there was more choice of houses than needed, people started to shift and exchange their ground floor apartments for apartments on higher floors, leaving a visible amount of houses empty. The city should anti-squat them: give them away for private initiative of small users.
11.Murmansk is a generic soviet artificial city with architecture under-challenged in its specific location
There has been no considerable building development in the city since the end of the 80-ies. Murmansk doesn’t necessarily need more housing; it needs better and larger housing.
There is a need for sustainable northern shelter that can provide the necessary level of comfort and feeling of ownership.
12.Murmansk prefab housing has limited life span
Khruchevs 637 5-story housing blocks have reached their time limit and have to be replaced now. The majority of Murmansk housing was built in the1970’s-1980’s in prefab panel construction. This type of building has a life span of 100 years.
13.Murmansk is a city on the water with no access to the water
Water always fascinates man. A city on the water is beautiful as long as the water can be used. A house with a view onto and access to the water is a luxury. With so little luxuries available in this severe place, one should create some.
Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Hamburg and Barcelona traded off there historical harbors for the more efficient container terminals outside the cities, leaving the waterfront free for building development, creating new city centers. The project is usually divided between different developers responsible for sanitation of the ground. The same model could be applicable to Murmansk.
14.Murmansk is a linear city
The ideal linear city would consist of a series of functionally specialized parallel sectors. Generally, the city would run parallel to a river and be built so that the dominant wind would blow from the residential areas to the industrial strip. The sectors of a linear city would be:
1.a purely segregated zone for railway lines
2.a zone of production and communal enterprises, with related scientific, technical and educational institutions
3.a green belt or buffer zone with major highway,
4.a residential zone, including a band of social institutions, a band of residential buildings and a "children's band"
5.a park zone
6.an agricultural zone with gardens and state-run farms (sovkhozy in the Soviet Union).
15.‘Garage towns’ occupy major parts of the city
Murmansk has more garages per capita then any other city in Russia. If put together they would occupy the whole Oktyabrsky district.
16.Murmansk is a city of heroes
Murmansk military glory of the past wars is the main theme strongly represented in city’s iconography. The image of the city is tough; it is heroic, severe, hard-working, uncompromised.
17.Murmansk is a shrinking city with great expectations
The biggest city north of the Arctic Circle in the late 1980s with a population of more than 450,000, Murmansk experienced major exodus after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The drop to 313,300 in 2008 comes after a year of lower birth rates and higher death rates. In addition to the negative natural population growth came a net exodus of 2100 people.
With the Shtokman development 50 000 are expected to arrive, which will reach the level of 1978.
18.Murmansk is a city of constant migration
In Soviet times Northern cities attracted workers with up to 100% higher salaries, longer and fully paid holidays at the Black sea, earlier retirement, special food and clothing supplies. One had to sign up for at least 5 years in Murmansk. Not much of these policies are left, yet Murmansk remains a temporary home for most of its inhabitants.
19.Murmansk is not specialized – neither a port nor a bureaucratic center
The city is big enough to not be one-sided. It has a healthy variety of places of labor. The elderly population, though, is increasing dramatically.
20.Murmansk offers extreme sports and leisure activity
Snow boarding, kite boarding, diving, paragliding, off road driving, snow safari, skiing, yachting, Kola salmon fishing, wild bear hunting, not to mention icebreakers, nuclear waste and post communist atmosphere.
21.Murmansk sees daylight only 300 days a year, out of which 14 with sunshine
The polar night (i.e. when the sun doesn’t show at all even during daytime) begins on 22 November and ends on 15 January. The polar day period begins on 18 May and ends on 24 June. The period when heating of houses is required is ten months per year.
The first ray of sunlight in January is largely celebrated by everyone singing the song “The ray of golden sun” that was sung by Muslim Magomaev in the 70-ies cartoon.
22.Murmansk has piercing south/north winds with a decrease of comfort temperature up to 20 degrees
In April 2008 the first windmill was plugged into the Kola electric grid. The Dutch company Wind Life Arctic plans to build a 200-megawatt wind park in the near future. One should find more alternatives to prevent the planned extension of the Kola Nuclear Power plant with two new nuclear reactors
23.Murmansk has 131 days of rain, 168 days of snow - more days of precipitation than any city in Europe
The weather in Murmansk is formed by cyclones and anticyclones from the Barents Sea and the Golf stream. In Murmansk they say: June – no summer yet, July – no summer already.
In the Russian Federation, 92 locations are dryer, 46 are wetter. Globally, 871 locations are dryer, 3341 are wetter.
24.One can see polar light in Murmansk 26 days a year
There seems to be an important trend in tourism towards weather phenomena, and the northern lights have become of great interest to tourists. It is a bit like a safari, in that one cannot guarantee seeing the northern lights. Murmansk is one of the best places to see them, along with Greenland, Bear Lake, Alaska, Fairbanks and Iceland.
25.Murmansk has been ranked the third best medium sized city in Russia
This research of “The Institute of City Economics” compared the numbers that describe the level of services, such as the number of kindergartens, schools, shops and hospitals per capita and the average salary and housing
Buromoscow is an architectural firm specialized in architecture, urbanism and research based in Moscow, Russia. Buromoscow has introduced an analytical and conceptual approach to design tasks not common yet to the Russian building market. In the past years the office has realized several social housing projects with the focus on improving prefabricated panel construction systems. The office is investigating alternative urban typologies in the framework of the changing soviet city. Due to the tremendous building volume in Russia the office production cover a range of projects from XS to XXL. Recently Buromoscow opened its dependence office Buroberlin in Berlin.
Team: Olga Aleksakova, Julia Bourdova, Andreas Huhn, Igor Aparyn, Bastian Henning, Lidiya Koloyarskaya, Natalia Remizova, Natalia Suhova, Olga Vlasenko, Dimitrij Zadorin