вторник, 10 января 2017 г.

“Heart of the City” Urban Project: key facts and dates for 2016

As you know, the late spring each year was the time when the Urban Planning Bureau “Heart of the City” issued its annual public report about its past period.  However, the tradition of publicity has been lost with the change in the management of the Bureau and the change of the Governor of the Kaliningrad Region. In the meantime, Kaliningrad mass media give scarce information about the status of the Heart of the City Project; officials make either controversial statements or no statements at all;  the project’s future is vague and time does not make things clear but only changes the character of uncertainty.  

To follow up the whimsical fate of the project and (partially) compensate the loss of publicity , the Heart of the City Mission has put together the below key facts and dates for the Project in 2016. 

I.

January


20 January. The working meeting at the Governors office revealed information that the archaeological exploration of the historic centre of Kaliningrad, where the historic and cultural complex is planned to be within the Heart of the City Project, may be commenced in spring 2016. The participants of discussion included the mayor of Kaliningrad Alexander Yaroshuk, Director of the Urban Planning Bureau “Heart of the City” Alexander Popadin and developers of the project’s architectural concepts.  
The Governor of Kaliningrad Region Nikolay Tsukanov recommended looking into the possibility of engaging some local organizations like Kaliningrad Art and History Museum or Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in the archaeological works. At the same time, tender documents for the engineering design of specific buildings were supposed to be prepared. The first facility to be tendered would be the West Wing of the former castle of Königsberg. The next one would be the total area of development including the area of the dismantled commercial center Staray Bashnya. The remaining territory would be tendered later on. ””The ”Heart of the City” Project continues to be implemented. Having completed competitions we are going over to the next milestone, to the practical works at this area. It is necessary to make an effort and avoid any delays in archaeological works. It is also important to find opportunities to minimize the related costs,” –  the Governor said during the meeting. 

21 January. The final catalogue of the competition “Post-castle” was published. It was prepared as a part of open-for-public documentation for the international design competition organized by the Bureau “Heart of the City” in the period between May and September 2015. The catalogue contains the abridged versions of all final competition entries. The full versions of the competition projects were published on the website here. 
23 January. A cultural expert and an architecture critic Alexander Popadin published an analytical review on the common design ideas of the royal architect August Stuler (project of 1840) and the Post-castle Competition winner Anton Sagal (2015).  

February


At the Schusev State Museum 
of Architecture
4 February. "Heart of the City" in the context of urban transformations was discussed at the Schusev State Museum of Architecture in Moscow. The event was held with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Russian Federation. According to the organizers of the event, the experience of the “Heart of the City” in Kaliningrad may be considered as a “progressive step worth of wider publicity” and an example of the successful initiative to address the problem of the reactivation of unused urban spaces in the city. 
15 February. The new general (master) plan for Kaliningrad was the subject of active debate in the city. “One of the main planning activities in the new general plan is the gradual shift of the city center from Victory Square to its historic location, the area of the Central square”.

16 February. Kaliningrad authorities decided to dismantle two old German bridges on Oktyabrsky Island.   

March

Andrey Portnjagin 
and Alexander Popadin
23 March. Director of German-Russian House Andrey Portnjagin delivered to the Bureau “Heart of the City” the CD containing the high resolution copies of the rare photos of the King’s castle’s exteriors and interiors. During one month layouts and photos were collected by the archive specialists of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation of Berlin-Brandenburg situated in Potsdam. These materials were planned to be used for graphic reconstruction of historic front elevations of the Koenigsberg Castle’s West Wing as a part of the scope of works to create a ‘replica” of one of the most significant historical sites of the former Koenigsberg. 

The Bureau commissioned a project of the united protection zone for federal (all-Russian) cultural heritage sites «Cathedral” and “Immanuel Kant’s grave with the memorial headstone and portico” to define conditions and regulations for the building development within their intervention zone (the territory of Altstadt and a part of Löbenicht). The project was included in the Terms of Reference for the site planning project for the historic center of the city. 

28 March.  The development of the historic center of Kaliningrad was discussed at the meeting held by Governor Nikolay Tsukanov. When opening the meeting, the Governor introduced the new Vice Governor as a member of the regional government. Garry Goldman would be in charge of supervising the tourist and recreational project “New city” (the Novyi Gorod gambling zone in Kulikovo settlement),  the site design for Oktyabrsky Island and the ”Heart of the City” Project.  Nikolay Tsukanov mentioned that significant work had been done. A historic and cultural assessment was carried out. Open international design competitions were organized. The development of the historic center of Kaliningrad was the subject of numerous public discussions. Chief Architect of the regional center Vyacheslav Genne informed that the land survey and the allocation of land parcels were about to be completed. On 23 December 2015, the Council for Culture took into consideration the outcomes of the last design competition and adopted a decision to begin the engineering design and construction of the future “Post-castle” with its most important and sophisticated historical element the West Wing. The participants of the meeting discussed the functional structure and the further use of the building, the graphic reconstruction of front elevations and phasing of archaeological excavations. “We need to preserve the historical heritage to a maximum extent possible, by taking into account the opinion of experts and citizens. We shall proceed with the implementation of this project this year”, - Nikolay Tsukanov said. 

April


12 April. The Bureau signed a contract with the restoration firm Yarkanon LTD (St. Petersburg) for the graphic reconstruction project for the front elevations of the Kings castles West Wing.
13 April. It transpired that the North-Western Federal District was preparing its socioeconomic development strategy reform. For this purpose, the authorities of the district’s constituents submitted the new list including 55 investment projects to substitute the failed list from 2012: during four years only eight projects out of forty-five had been implemented.  The “Heart of the City” Project was shortlisted among the Kaliningrad Region projects and considered by experts as the realistic one. 
13 April. In the run-up to archaeological excavations that were about to commence in the area of the Königsberg Castle’s West Wing, Deputy Director of the History and Arts Museum reviewed the recent archaeological research expeditions that took place on the castle’s territory.  
Meeting of the local history club 
at the State Archive
24 April. Director of the Bureau presented the “Heart of the City” Project at the meeting of Kaliningrad local history club.  

27 April. The place for the 2018 World Cup Fan zone in Kaliningrad was officially approved by the International Football Federation. The Fan zone would be located at the central square near the House of Soviets. It could accommodate twenty five thousand people.   

28 April.  During the site visit Governor Nikolay Tsukanov made a comment on the perspectives of the reconstruction of the West Wing.  “I hope that we will be able to have the works completed by 2018. We are going to make an exhibition hall or an art gallery in the Hall of Moscovites. We are still working upon functional filling” – Tsukanov said


30 April. The results of the Russian Independent Architectural Rating “Zolotaya Kapitel” were announced. The “Heart of the City” Project was awarded with a silver diploma in the special nomination “ARCH-KULT”.  

May


A cover for the conceptual design 
“Post-castle”
13 May. The conceptual design of the Historic and cultural complex ”Post-castle” developed by the architect Anton Sagal for the Bureau was published on open access terms on the project website. 
In violation of the contract terms, the architect received the feedback from the Kaliningrad Regional Agency for architecture, urban planning and perspective development only in late November 2016. In December the revised version of the conceptual design was approved by the Agency and accepted by the Bureau. The revised version of the conceptual design from 5 December and the explanatory note was published on the Bureau’s website.

16 May. The preparation for excavation works on the area of the King’s Castle’s West Wing was commenced.  

16 May. Director of the Bureau Alexander Popadin gave an extensive interview to the news portal NewKaliningrad mentioning that “one of his aims was to prevent Garry Goldman from making mistakes similar to “Svetlogorsk glass”[1]”.  

18 May. Kaliningrad city authorities transferred their share of House of Soviets’ ownership  to the regional government. 


[1] Svetlogorsk stakan (glass) is a nickname for the notoriously known beachfront apartment hotel project that included the construction of glass-like building at the coastline in Svetlogorsk. The project sparked a wave of protests from local population and environmental activists and was subsequently stopped.

The winner of the Russian State Prize, a restorer Grigoriy Mikhailov (St. Petersburg) is telling about scientific methods used to restore lost historic sites. 

19 May. The Bureau organized the meeting with Saint Petersburg restoration specialists commissioned to develop the graphic reconstruction project for the front elevations of the King’s Castle’s West Wing using the photogrammetric method. Photogrammetry was used to reconstruct the lost Amber Room in Saint Petersburg. The speakers were an architect and a restorer, twice a prize winner the State prize of the Russian Federation Grigory Mikhailov, an architect and an art historian Yekaterina Litova and PhD in technical sciences and Associated professor in St. Petersburg State University Alexander Voynarovsky.    
At the conclusion of the meeting Alexander Popadin announced that his labour contract had been prematurely terminated by the founding members of the Bureau “Heart of the City” at the Vice Governor Garry Goldman’s suit and the position of Director would be taken by Olga Markova, a former employee of Arthur Sarnits’ studio. 

The former director of the Bureau, 
a cultural expert Alexander Popadin
23 May. One of the founders of the “Heart of the City” Project, Deputy Chairman of the Governor’s Council for Culture, a cultural expert Alexander Popadin made a public statement on his dismissal and the project’s future. He published his statement on the “Heart of the City” project website tuwangste.ru on 23 May. Two weeks later, the project’s new team changed the website domain address to sg39.ru. Two more weeks later Alexander Popadin’s statement was removed from the project website.  Popadin reposted his statement on his blog page. 
During the handover to the new management of the Bureau valuable digital archive documents on Königsberg castle received from Potsdam (see 23 March) had been lost. 


24 May. The Heart of the City Project became the prize winner in the nomination “Best idea for urban development” at the conference "Signs of the Cities. Best regional practices in development and renovation".  Information was published on the non-profit project official website

25 May. During the public hearings it was reported that following the outcomes of the open tender the City Administration of Kaliningrad contracted the architecture bureau “Nikor Proyekt” to develop the site planning project including a parcel plan for the historic centre of Kaliningrad (“Heart of the City”). The deadline for work completion would be December 2016.

Discussion about the ”Heart of the City” Project at the Konrad Adenauer Institute (Berlin)
28-31 May. The chief architect of Kaliningrad Vyacheslav Genne, the “Post-castle” competition winner Anton Sagal and a cultural expert, the architecture critic Alexander Popadin (the former Director of the Bureau “Heart of the City” were invited by Konrad Adenauer Institute (Berlin) to give the keynote speeches on the results of the “Post-castle” Competition (2015) and the project’s future in Dresden and Berlin.  
Several days later, Alexander Popadin and Konrad Adenauer Institute management published their summary reports about presentations and discussion on the “Heart of the City” Project held in Berlin. 

28 May. The winning project “Post-castle” was listed among publications at the world known online platform on architecture and design.


II.

June 


2 June. A specialist company was commissioned by the Bureau to carry out geotechnical survey of the area of the former Schlossberg. The topographic survey and the ground penetrating radar study of the land parcel under the castle’s ruins were performed.  

8-9 June. The Committee for Architecture and Construction of the City Administration organized the expert workshop “Day of the River”. During the workshop, Alexander Kubasov (Architectural studio 4+) presented the Waterfront concept and Oleg Vasjutin reported on the results of his research study focusing on the historic, cultural, architecture and urban planning aspects of the Lower Pond development.


Arthur Sarnits presents his project of the castle 
for the local history club members 
(photo from social networking sites)
11 June. The entrant of the “Post-castle” Competition Arthur Sarnits whose project received a Special Mention of the Jury told about his dream to have his project used as a basis for the construction of the King’s Castle’s West Wing. Sarnits’s statement was made at the meeting with Kaliningrad local history club held at the fort number 11.  In view of the well-known close relations between Arthur Sarnits and the Governor, this statement was seen by journalists as an eventual prospect for replacing the winning project. 

16 June. The Government of the Kaliningrad Region decided to provide the “Heart of the City” Project investor with state guarantees for the amount of 170 million roubles. The relevant regional budget amendments for 2016 were approved by the deputies of the Kaliningrad Regional Duma.  When introducing the amendments the Minister of Finance Viktor Porembskiy clarified that the investor will be selected on the basis of competition.  

20 June. The deputies of the City Council adopted a decision about the functional use of the Central Square. The formal text of the press-release published on the City Council website read that, «according to the significant amendments introduced to the chapter 13 part III «Urban Planning Regulations” of the Land Use and Development Code of Kaliningrad, the low-rise and mid-rise residential development had been allowed in the area of the Central square”. The press-release also included the list of potential facilities that could appear on this area apart from the residential development: museums, museum depositories, exhibition halls, art galleries, libraries, cinema and cinema halls, theatres, philharmonic halls, planetarium, art and restoration workshops for sculpture, painting, drawing classes, book shops and souvenir shops, tourism and information centers, Civil Registry Offices…   


The consolidated planning concept for the “Heart of the City” nucleus, developed based on the outcomes of two international competitions to lay foundation for a new functional structure

20 and 24 June.  After keeping long silence on the future of theHeart of the CityProject, the Vice-Governor in charge said that the winning project of the Post-castle competition by Anton Sagal would virtually be abandoned. «Regional authorities decided to think over the building complex project on the grounds of the King’s Castle in Kaliningrad one more time”.  As the Vice-Governor Garry Goldman mentioned in the interview to the new portal kgd.ru, the Government would like “to take a fresh look on the “Heart of the City””. “We have commissioned the survey in which both citizens and individual professional groups will be asked questions. All of them will express their views about the future of this territory. The decision on further project steps will be taken together with the general public, based on the results of the surveys. Of course, everything will be considered in the light of the “Heart of the City” competition. Three first prizes and the Public Choice Award will be taken as a basis”, – Goldman said. “We are actively discussing the issue of engineering design now. It is clear that financing will be made available in September after the contract is signed with the investor. However, there are enthusiastic architects who have already proceeded with making visualization of the site” – Goldman said in the interview. For the reference: the first prize in the online voting (which Goldman called the “Public Choice Award”) and the prize amount of one hundred thousand roubles was awarded to the “Post-castle” Competition entry by “Arthur Sarnits – Koenigsberg” Ltd. that proposed to reconstruct the whole King’s castle and the historic development around it.
Garry Goldman also expressed his confidence that it would be possible to have the construction of the West Wing completed by 2018.  When asked, what construction materials would be used, Goldman answered: “Brick, cast-in-situ concrete, wood – those materials that were used in its construction”. 

July


Archaeological Saturday Volunteer Work Day

2 July. The Archaeological Saturday Volunteer Work Day took place on the excavation site of the castles West Wing. During the event, the Vice-Governor Garry Goldman said, that the active building work on the grounds of the King’s Castle would begin at the end of 2016. 

Pheme’s head (a goddess of fame and rumor) 
from the sculptural composition above the entrance 
of Berlin City Palace. It was given by Hans Stimmann 
as a gift to the Mayor of Kaliningrad Alexander 
Yaroshuk during the “Post-castle” competition jury session.
5 July. The King’s castle reconstruction project ” should be suspended, ” – the local community began to respond to the actual replacement of the winning project of the “Post-castle” competition and systematic problems in the urban planning project “Heart of the City”. Some journalists found similarities between the Bureau’s management changeover and a corporate raid as well as an attempt to privatize the public initiative. 

6 July. The World Architectural Festival 2016 shortlisted two competition entries of Kaliningrad “Post-castle”: the modernist “Post-castle” by Turkish company Tabanlioglu Architects and the second prize Post-castle Competition winner  Studio 44 from St. Petersburg. The team leader of the latter Nikita Yavein was recognized as the Architect of the Year in the Russian Federation according to ARCH-Moscow.  

6 July. Kaliningrad City Council adopted the new general plan for the city valid up to 2035. 

7 July. The Mayor of Kaliningrad Alexander Yaroshuk said that it would be impossible to have the King’s castle reconstructed by 2018. He made his statement live during the “Main Hour” programme broadcasted on the regional television channel “Kaskad”.  

13 July. A new entry was made in Unified State Register of Legal Entities in relation to renaming the Non-Profit Partnership “Urban Planning Bureau “Heart of the City” the Association and the appointment of Olga Markova as General Director.  Changes were related to the amendments made to the charter documents of the organization.    

18 July. The tender for archaeological excavations on the grounds of the former King’s Castle was held by the regional authorities. The Contract was awarded to the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The institution turned out to be the only bidder and agreed to complete works for 9,3 million roubles.  The initial contract price amounted to 11, 6 million roubles.  


Nikolay Tsukanov is at the stage of the variety theatre that was built in Svetlogorsk during his time as a Governor

28 July. As stated in the text of the Decree on Kreml website, President Vladimir Putin dismissed Nikolay Tsukanov and appointed the chief of Kaliningrad Region Federal Security Service Directorate Evgeny Zinichev as ad interim Governor of the Kaliningrad Region. The same day  Nikolay Tsukanov was appointed the presidential envoy to Northwestern Federal District
The General mayor Evgeny Zinichev was appointed as chief of the Federal Security Service Directorate for Kaliningrad Region in June 2015. Ad interim Governor of the Kaliningrad Region Zinichev appointed Anton Alikhanov who had been working in the Government since autumn 2015 as vice-premier. The rest of government officials retained their positions as ad interim. 
All local journalists prepared reviews in the style of “accomplishments of Nikolay Tsukanov’s era”. The “Heart of the City” Project was a part of this era.  

III.

August


Visualization for Kant-Residence Project in Veselovka settlement of Chernyakhovsk district. Historical building is on the right. 

1 August. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the order to allocate more than 46 million roubles for the restoration of the house where the great philosopher Immanuel Kant once lived.  The historic building reconstruction would be supervised by the new presidential envoy to Northwestern Federal District and ex Governor of Kaliningrad Region Nikolay Tsukanov. 

2 August. An investor received a construction permit to build an eight-storied center near the sport complex Yunost.  


The archaeological excavations on the West Wing of Königsberg Castle


Archaeologist Anna Sivolapova
7 August. The first official information about the archaeological excavations on the West Wing of Königsberg Castle was published on the Bureau’s website. “In July, the Tender Agency of the Kaliningrad Region conducted the tender for rescue archaeological field excavations on the identified cultural heritage site “Ruins of the King’s castle” of the 14th-18th century. The client under the contract is the History and Arts Museum of the Kaliningrad Region that shall control the progress and the quality of works. The winner is the largest research institution of the country, the Institute of Archaeology, RAS (Moscow). The contract was signed on 20 July. The contractor has already proceeded with works on site. The works are carried out by the Sambian Expedition of the Institute of Archaeology, RAS, led by Alexander Nikolayevich Khokhlov. The fieldworks are managed by Anna Borisovna Sivolapova, a researcher with extensive experience in the architectural and archaeological works”. 
9 August. Kaliningrad authorities reported that a new residential complex would be built to replace the distillery near the Lower Lake. 
11 August. The first phase of the complex engineering and design inspection of the Cathedral began. The works would continue till November. Based on the inspection findings the design documents for the site restoration would be developed. (We would like to remind that the Cathedral had been previously reconstructed without any official design project).  
16 August. The Government presented a design for 2018 World Cup Fan zone near the House of Soviets.   



27 August. Kaliningrad private Museum of Königsberg City introduced the ir project “Photoarchaeology of Kneiphof” implemented with support of Potanin’s Foundation. Alexander Popadin’s two books about Kneiphof were presented by Pictorica Publishing House. In the end of the year the project Photoarchaeology of Kneiphof” became the winner in the nomination (Best Photostory. Photoarchaelopgy of Kneiphof by Pictorica)

September

5 September. The regional ministry of tourism proposed to make changes in the state programme ”Tourism”. The resolution draft was published on the Kaliningrad Region Government’s website. To finance the state program, the amount of 695, 3 million was proposed to be allocated from the regional budget.  The resolution draft included the item “creation and maintenance of touristic resources in proper state, including the construction of the West Wing of the King’s Castle”.  To implement this activity, it was proposed to allocate the amount of 22, 5 million roubles in 2016 and the amount of 14,8 million roubles annually in the period 2017-2020. 

7 September.  The tender for the Timber Bridge reconstruction design was announced. The draw function of the bridge should be restored.
Vice-Governor Garry Goldman is 
presenting an investment project  
20 September. «The reconstruction of the destroyed King’s Castle and the creation of the new Amber Room in Kaliningrad will allow to attract additional three million tourists, – the Deputy Chairman of the Kaliningrad Region Government Garry Goldman said on Tuesday. Speaking at the presentation of tourism potential of the Kaliningrad Region, he clarified that the status of the Russian amber capital had presently moved to Saint Petersburg but he promised to fight to return this status back to Kaliningrad. "There are unique projects like the reconstruction of the King’s Castle on the King’s Mountain which may attract up to three million new tourists,” – Goldman added. “We expect the first part to be ready by 2018".  



Competition entry for a cable bridge from 1910 
23 September. An article about the competition from 1910 for a bridge across Schlossteich was published. 
July-December. Two local mass media (Regnum and VGTRK Kaliningrad) began active discussion if “re-germanization” of the region was taking place.  The castle reconstruction project is mentioned as one of the key arguments for its presence.  

26 September. One of the founding members of the “Heart of the City” Bureau, the State Budgetary Institution of Culture Research-and-Production Center on Protection and Use of Monuments announced the vacant position of Director.  The former Director Alexey Afansievich Nagorny with whom the Bureau had established constructive relations was dismissed. 

October  


1 October.  The founders of the Bureau notified employees of its liquidation starting with November.  Information made it to the press but the officials refused any comments.

On 1 October it was revealed that the Regional Government decided to merge the “Heart of the City” with the Tourism Development Corporation and that Sberbank was planning to finance the project. Four days later, other news arrived. Tourism Development and Region Development Corporations would be merged into one. The activities of the Bureau “Heart of the City” under liquidation  will be a part of the new structure. 

4 October. Ad interim vice-governor Garry Goldman announced the plans of the Government of Kaliningrad to give up on giving the state guarantees to the potential investor of the “Heart of the City”. «There is a pool of investors collected for the “Heart of the City”.  There is more than one. We are now selecting. In view of the changed conditions we will develop tighter criteria. We have previously had an issue with attracting guarantees for bank financing but now in the new conditions we will go on with clean investments, ” – he informed. According to Goldman, negotiations with four investors are underway. “Earlier, it has been planned to ensure the Government’s financial support in the form of provided guarantees, but now no guarantees are planned in the context of the budget optimization. Only private investments will be attracted,” – he emphasized.
Ad interim vice governor also added that the investor will be selected by the Council on investments. This is a public procedure. The Council will be convened to consider several projects. If the Council of investments approves, the investor will receive the land parcel without tenders but he will have to create a facility to be turned over to the Government of Kaliningrad Region that will be its operator,” – Goldman added.
Please be reminded that in June 2016, the Government of Kaliningrad Region decided to provide the investor of the “Heart of the City” Project with state guarantees for the amount 170 million roubles. 

6 October. As reported by Interfax on Thursday, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin removed Evgeny Zinichev from the position of ad interim Governor of Kaliningrad Region upon his request. Ad interim prime-minister of the regional government Anton Andreevich Alikhanov was appointed as a new temporary acting head of the region.

18 October. The plans to introduce the position of Chief Architect of Kaliningrad Region were revealed. The new official would be directly accountable to the Governor.  

Public hearings on amendments to the Land Use and Development Code in the “Heart of the City” area
25 October. The Government of Kaliningrad Region proposed to introduce amendments in the Land Use and Development Code regarding changing the borders of territorial zones within the area of Shevtchenko Street – Prof. Sevastyanova Street – Proletarskaya Street pertaining to the territory of the “Heart of the City” Project by the Lower Lake. According to Head of the Urban Regulation Department of the Kaliningrad City Committee for Architecture and Construction Roman Mironov, changes in the Land Use and  Development Code is proposed “in order to facilitate the development of site planning project for the histroic center of Kaliningrad”. Olga Mezey involved in developing the above mentioned site plan called these changes “an illegal action from the point of view of urban planning project called”.
Visualization for eleven-storied residential building with “historical front elevations” to be built on the grounds of six-storied hotel Bellevue  

26 October. The Plans for the construction of eleven-storied residential house by the Lower Lake were announced. Vice-Governor Goldman said that the Government had no leverage to influence the property developer.  

31 October. The Government of the region turned over the building of the former Amber Manufacture to the Amber Museum but announced that there are no funds for turning it into a museum complex

November


Due to the prohibition for tourists and journalists to access the excavation site, the photos of the work progress are taken from neighboring buildings
2 November. As journalists were not allowed to the site of the castle’ excavations, they began to express their doubts about the quality of ongoing works. A famous Russian blogger shared these doubts. 

Immanuel Kant
3 November. Moscow Architectural Institute MARCHI was proactive to announce their plans to conduct an international competition for the Philosophy Museum in Kaliningrad.  The competition will start in spring 2017. The status of works to be accepted will be educational.  The competition is primarily designed for students and institutions. 

3 November. A new entry was made in Unified State Register of Legal Entities in relation to liquidation of the Association NP “Urban Planning Bureau “Heart of the City” and building a liquidation committee based on the order of the RF Ministry of Justice. The person authorized to act on behalf of the legal entity without a power of attorney is the liquidation committee leader Igor Danilovich Papst, Director of the Regional Urban Planning Center (an organization under the regional government).  

7 November. The outcome of the “Kant’s House” restoration tender was announced.  “Special Scientific Restoration Design and Manufacturing Workshop” became the winner. The funds for these works had been allocated by Vladimir Putin from the Reserve fund.

8 November. Ruins of the castle had still no protection status.  No one was held responsible for causing damage.  In the interview to the radio station “Russky Krai”, the Head of the Kaliningrad Region Service for State Protection of Cultural Heritage Evgeny Maslov mentioned that the identified cultural heritage site “Ruins of the King’s castle” could change its status to become a “landmark” “based on the certificate of state historic and cultural assessment”. He also said that “archaeological excavations would allow defining the borders of the area where the ruins are located, the items they consist of as well as the subject for protection””. 

8 November. It was announced that Kaliningrad Art Gallery would move into the historical building of Königsberg Stock Exchange. 


Journalists and architects conquering the wind and the cold express a great interest in the project progress at the excavation site of the West Wing.
11 November. After the authorities got abundant criticism from the local press, journalists were finally admitted to visit the site of archaeological excavations on the area of the West Wing. Archaeologists presented their preliminary results, showed the discovered structures of the castle and archaeological findings. After the press-conference with the participation of representatives from the Institute of Archaeology, RAS, no official comments regarding the future preservation, museumification or conservation of the ruins were made by authorities.   


The outer radius of the North-West Tower foundation

A niche for the statue of the king. 
No king has been found yet. 
Archaeologists showed findings providing evidence that Schlossberg had been inhabited by predecessors to Prussians. 
The press-conference was also followed by photos emerging on social networking sites. The photos depicted the revealed ruin of the historic support wall of the castle’s South Terrace, including the niche that contained the statue of Friedrich Wilhelm I which had disappeared after the war. 

18 November. Regional authorities proposed a famous business lady Elena Baturina to invest in the “Heart of the City” Project. 

20 November. In November, Russia was represented by twelve projects at the World Architectural Festival. Kaliningrad “Post-castle” by Studio 44 was among them. Not a single Russian project received any prize. 

21 November. Citizens began to collect signatures on the petition on prohibiting the construction of eleven-storied residential house on the shore of the Lower Lake.  

22 November. In live television broadcast on GTRK Kaliningrad channel, ad interim Governor of Kaliningrad Region Anton Alikhanov stated that “it would not be right to implement the Heart of the City without solving the issue with the House of Soviets”. He had also allowed the idea of moving the regional administration to the building in case it would be reconstructed and commissioned.  


Satirical drawing by Alexander Vojich exhibited at the Kaliningrad Art Gallery in autumn 2016 

24 November. At the meeting with chief editors of the regional mass media Governor Anton Alikhanov said that “the implementation of the “Heart of the City” historic center development depended on the public opinion and the future of the House of Soviets”. 

24 November. Kaliningrad deputies delegated the authority to decide on urban planning matters from municipal to the regional level

25 November. Kaliningrad authorities demanded that the owner of the House of Soviets would renew the rental contract for the building ( according to the old version of the contract, the owner did not have to pay the real estate tax before any investments in the project would be made). 

28 November. The ex Director of the Bureau, a cultural expert and an architecture critic Alexander Popadin made an annual review of Kaliningrad architecture and predicted the risks of the “Heart of the City” Project. First of all, he mentioned that the absence of conservation would cause further decay of the ruins and foundations of the castle while the ruins had up to present not received any defined protection status. There would be a risk of construction of the West Wing without the detailed elaboration of its functional program.  Another risk for the territory would be “a speculative investor” and the private capital interests prevailing over public interests in case of the active development of the area Moreover, the author mentioned, that the complex on the King’s Mountain would require a significant federal function which had been emphasized by many experienced architects including Nikita Yavein and Hans Stimmann during 2016.   

December


5 December.  The first meeting of the Council for Culture with participation of new members and new ad interim Governor took place. Two of three authors of the “Heart of the City” Project (an architect Oleg Vasjutin and a cultural expert and an architecture critic Alexander Popadin) were excluded from members. «The most important thing we need to do is to think through clearly what can be done by the Football World Cup. We expect a lot of guests. We need to check all the details. We need to do something about the “Heart of the City”.  You cannot take guests here and show them the building painted in pink color. It is necessary to put the territory in order, to create a museum, to arrange footpaths, to allow the car traffic and receive lots of tourists”, – said the Deputy Chairman of the Council Svetlana Sivkova (Director of World Ocean Museum).

6 December. "According to bookkeeping the cost of the whole cathedral amounted to 202,5 million roubles. The auditors also mentioned that the reconstruction of the cathedral, the monument of federal significance had been carried out without any control in recent years.  During the 2009- 2015 period, the Service had not issued a single work permit for reconstruction or overhaul of the building”. A summary of conflicts and the current state of affairs about the Kaliningrad Cathedral was published. 

7 December. The House of Soviets became a subject for a special online project on the webportal “Klops”. 


The Bureau is under liquidation
7 December. The magazine “State Registration Bulletin” published the official announcement on the liquidation of the Bureau “Heart of the City”. Creditor claims were to be submitted within 2 months from the moment of liquidation. 

12 December. A picket against the construction of the multi-storied building on the shore of the Lower Lake between Kaliningrad State Television and Radio Company and the History and Art Museum  took place on Vasilevskogo Square in Kaliningrad. 


Workshop with MARCHI
15 December. The Bureau “Heart of the City” organized the workshop with the participation of the management and lecturers of the Moscow Architectural Institute (MARCHI), the chairman of the Committee for municipal services Sergey Melnikov, a city architect Vyacheslav Genne, the representatives of the regional agency for architecture and local architects. Duringthe event, it was announced that MARCHI would be eager to assist Kaliningrad authorities on the level of the Council for Culture at the RF President’s Office and the Ministry of Construction of the RF in adoption of the RF Government’s special resolution regulating the development of the historic centre of the city. It looked like it was the last event that had been organized by the Bureau.


The entry portal of the West Wing
Sizes and heights of all elements are calculated 
based on the scientific method  

16 December. The Bureau published online the abridged version of the Sketch design of the scientific graphic reconstruction of the front elevations of the West Wing of the castle Königsberg. The work was done for the Bureau by OOO NPRF Yarkanon creative team (St. Petersburg) led by the architect Yekaterina Litova and  the restoration architect, the State Prize laureate Grigory Mikhailov in co-authorship with Alexander Voynarovsky, Director of NPP Photogrammetria. The future of the project website after the Bureau’s liquidation remains unknown. 


"Temporary measures": prompt protection of foundations included using bags full of dirt to support walls and covering them with plastic sheets 

20 December.  The Archaeological excavations on the grounds of the West Wing of the castle Königsberg were completed. Some “temporary measures” were undertaken by specialists of the Institute of Archaeology, RAS to prevent foundations from frost penetration and creep. There is no public information on the funds available in the budget of 2017 to ensure the conservation of the ruins and foundations. 

26 December. Vera Tariverdieva was appointed as new Director of the Cathedral. Vice-Governor Garry Goldman announced that the complete overhaul of the Cathedral was planned in 2017. 

27 December. Vice-Governor Garry Goldman said that there were five investors for the integrated development of the territory of the “Heart of the City” and the area around the new main square near the House of Soviets.  


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PS. The Heart of the City Urban Project is entering the new 2017 after some shocks that resulted as follows:
а) the public’s growing distrust of the regional authorities’ actions; and
б) the regional authorities lacking the clear project strategy that would take into account public interests and not merely investors’ commercial interests.
It is quite possible that the situation will change after the Governor’s election in autumn 2017. But so far, neither the degree of publicity nor the degree of the Project Road Map elaboration observable from the officials’ statements has been encouraging.

Heart of the City Mission