Perm as a case study

Perm is one of the largest industrial and scientific centers of the Urals, the administrative center of Perm krai located at the banks of Kama River. With over 1 million inhabitants, by population Perm occupies 13th place among Russian cities. Since the very inception, the industrial sector constitutes the backbone of Perm’s economy and remains at the core or urban development projects. Oil refinery, electricity production, military and construction facilities, and aerospace industry are embedded in city landscape. At the same time, Perm features a dynamic urban environment with renovation projects in the downtown, new neighborhoods, contested public spaces and other urban renewal processes.

Among the landmark characteristics of Perm are small rivers that traverse the city and forms natural logs and recreational areas. Our first conflict case relates to the area called “Sad Soloviev” (The Nightingales’ Garden), which is located at the valley of Uinka river in Motovilikha District. The area has a long history of planning: it dates back to 1932 when the Swiss architect Hannes Mayer proposed a project of “Gorki Socialist Neighborhood” (“Соцгородок Горки”). The general plan for area development was adopted in 1957 by Lenprogor Institute, however, after the USSR collapsed, urban planning process disintegrated, and the area slided into decay. During 1990s – first half of 2000s the surrounding neighborhoods of Sadovyi and Godskiye Gorki rapidly developed into densely populated residential areas. Uinka river valley was filled with trash. Later, local activists developed a recreational area that hosted nightingales and other species. Due to legal entanglements, development projects started in 2010s with the intentions to destroy the Garden. Several iterations of negotiations between the developer, local authorities, and activists established a fragile equilibrium: while the idea to build residential or commercial buildings has not vanished, the attempts to demolish the Garden are on halt at the moment.

The other conflict case is finished and also relates to the standoff between local residents and developers. In October 2014 in Krasnova neighborhood (Sverdlovskii District), the locals suddenly faced a fence around a small park with construction plan for shopping mall. Collective actions followed with multiple meetings with politicians and representatives of municipal authorities. Local residents sued the developed to no avail and the mall was constructed a year later. However, the developer in exchange for the acquisition of land parcel invested in renewal of another nearby green area.