Text description provided by the architects. Novosibirsk, the heart of Siberia, is one of Russia’s largest cities, with a population of more than 1 million. This meeting point of Russian traditions and modern industrial prowess is bisected by the Ob River and alongside it, the Mikhailovskaya Embankment. The embankment is a two-part terrace park, divided by transit bridges, and the whole territory is delineated by the river, a river cargo port, and a major highway. In 2018 Strelka KB’s expert team, together with Strelka Architects and Novosibirsk architectural bureau Adaptik-A, supported by Novosibirsk City Council, rethought the concept of the embarkment and created a center of attraction for one of Siberia’s largest cities.
The Mikhailovskaya Embankment was designed to create new leisure opportunities both for Novosibirsk residents and visitors to the city. This was to be accomplished by creating a functional division of the embankment into quiet and active zones, with the former providing opportunities for calm relaxation, while the latter serves as a venue for major events, from Novosibirsk’s 125th anniversary celebration to the 2018 World Cup.
The main promenade along the water now features a pedestrian zone, leisure area, and bicycle parking, and lighting has been vastly improved. All of the existing greenery along the embankment was preserved, while apple and linden trees were added. The promenade was made accessible and inclusive, as well: a bike path with pedestrian crossings was organized along the footpath, and road markings for the visually impaired were added.
The active zone now features a large stage for holding major local and national events, such as the fan zone for the 2018 World Cup. The embankment is now frequently used as a venue for major sporting and community events in the city. In addition, a unique sports and recreation zone near the reservoir has become a point of attraction for hundreds of Novosibirsk’s most active residents.
On the stairs leading to the stage, wooden planking was installed which can accommodate thousands during concerts and other events. The design concept includes templates for cafes, kiosks, and sports equipment rental stands.
The lower promenade was connected with the others with various mid-level footpaths. One of them, a “path of impressions, ”features different types of activities for visitors, with a children’s discovery area, bike path, and even a “green theater,” featuring a dance floor with a river view.
The quiet zone is made up of five round “rooms,” each stimulating one of the five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. These senses are each evoked through a pattern on the surface of each room. Around the perimeter of the “touch” pavilion, new greenery with different textures was planted: lungworts, with their soft and fluffy leaves; and mahonias, with platelike leaves.
On the middle promenade, an inclusive children’s playground and sports zone provide low-pressure opportunities for children of different levels of ability to play together. The upper and lower levels are connected by a gently-sloped ramp, and multiple types of lighting instruments provide variety and visibility for all visitors. Special attention was devoted to lighting the nearly 100 new trees along the embankment.
Along with, Strelka KB’s Center for Urban Anthropology conducted studies to see how Novosibirsk was reflected in social media photographs, in shots taken both by locals and by visitors. Photos taken over the 12 months before the beginning of development were used to understand users’ relationships to the spaces before their redesign and as a control for the analysis of the resulting spaces’ social media presence. The results were impressive: the number of photos taken outdoors grew by 20% as a result. Local residents benefited even more than tourists: though 21% of photos were taken on the days of World Cup matches, the majority of social media activity came from City Day celebrations, and 73% of photos were posted by residents — showing that they were equally ready to embrace a new side of Novosibirsk.
The Mikhailovskaya Embankment in Novosibirsk was developed as part of the Future Cities program, organized by Strelka KB in cooperation with DOM.RF and the Ministry of Construction, Housing, and Utilities of the Russian Federation.