Samara Arena chalks out ambitious development plan


Samara Arena Image: gmp Architekten

An announcement was made recently as regards launching an open international competition for the development of a blueprint for the territory close to the Samara Arena in Russia (total area: 360 hectares).

Samara Arena, also known as the Cosmos Arena, is a football stadium in Samara, Russia. The stadium was one of the venues for the 2018 FIFA World Cup™.

This is one of the first projects aimed at repurposing the stadia which were developed for the country’s staging of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™. They will be made into hubs for urban development and community, business, and cultural life.

The competition is part of the all-inclusive work that began in the region back in 2019. The work comprises systematic study and a professional competition in architecture and urban planning. The project was started off by the Samara Region Development Corporation and is supported by the Government of the Samara Region and the Samara Urban District Administration. The Agency for Strategic Development ‘CENTER’ was chosen as the operator for the study and the competition procedure.

The Samara Arena stadium was built keeping in mind the FIFA World Cup™ that was hosted by Russia in 2018. The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) rated it as a Category Four stadium, which is the highest possible category. The territory adjoining the Samara Arena lies within the city limits and spreads across 360 hectares of land. It is bordered by Tashkentskaya and Demokraticheskaya Streets and the Volga and Moscow highways. The territory boasts astonishing amount of vast space – it can fit over 500 football pitches.

Employing the World Cup infrastructure in a methodical manner has become a vital mission for the regions that had the honor of hosting it. The Samara Region was among the first in Russia to attempt the integration of such a major sports venue into the cityscape through the rational development of the adjacent territory. If it reaps benefit, the region’s solutions may be emulated in other parts of the country.

The 45,000-seat Samara Arena is currently encircled by a huge amount of empty space that exceeds the stadium’s size almost 13-fold. The sheer size of the territory makes it possible to plan from the scratch, a modern, new district with all the necessary social, cultural, and economic attributes. Samara Arena remains the dominant architectural and functional landmark of Samara city. Public consultations in context with the facilities that could be hosted in such a spacious area began immediately after the stadium’s unveiling. The competition will take these discussions to their final, practical stage.

The study carried out by the Agency for Strategic Development ‘CENTER’ resulted in an evaluation of the territory’s urban planning potential, along with an in-depth survey of all the key real estate market aspects. The CENTER experts studied the area’s transport infrastructure and natural limitations, and listed the essential facilities to be constructed. One of the goals of this study was to examine the relevant global projects involving the comprehensive development of territories near major sports venues similar to Samara Arena. This information served as the basis for suggestions and recommendations as to the most rational placement of various functional facilities throughout the area. The results of the study will soon be made available in the public domain and will be freely accessible via the competition’s official website.

To take part in the competition, it is necessary to fill out an application on the official competition website and provide a portfolio of completed projects demonstrating pertinent experience, along with an essay with a description of the key ideas that will lay the groundwork for the future master plan. There is no fee to apply for the competition.

The judges will review the application contents and select three finalists. The total prize fund for the competition is 14,400,000 rubles (approx 215,000 USD). All teams that make it to the final stage will receive 2,400,000 rubles (including tax) ($36,000 USD) each. And after the judges cast their final vote and the three places are ranked, the teams will receive additional prizes as follows: 3,600,000 rubles for the winner; 2,400,000 rubles for the one who occupies the second slot; and 1,200,000 rubles for the one who occupies third place.

The competition will consist of two stages and will conclude on June 18, 2020. Application submissions are ongoing until March 20. The three finalists will then proceed to work on comprehensive territorial development concepts, making them as effective and cost-effective as possible. The competition is open to Russian and foreign professional organizations whose forte is architecture, project design, the creation of concepts for the development of public spaces, commercial and residential real estate, master planning, economics, finance, and content design.

Dmitry Azarov, head of the competition’s judging panel and Governor of the Samara Region, stated, “The territory adjacent to the Samara Arena is currently a major landmark that attracts both locals from all over the region, and numerous tourists. The legacy of the FIFA World Cup™, which Samara successfully hosted in 2018, is being put to good use. Our goal is not just to preserve the infrastructure that we have already created, but also to provide the development of this promising venue with new momentum.”

“That was our motivation behind hosting this international competition. I am confident that the best architects and public space designers will be able to present interesting solutions that will be unique in many respects and will transform this territory into a magnet for locals and guests from all over the world.”

Elena Lapushkina, Head of the Samara Urban District, observed, “We expect that this project’s execution is going to have a social impact first and foremost; it will drive the development of the city’s community, as well as its economy. Such proposals ought to be appealing to investors and meet the most exacting community demands regarding public space design. I would like contestants, architects, and potential investors to approach the functional design of this territory as creatively as possible, accounting for global experience and the latest approaches to shaping the urban environment.”

Sergei Georgievskii, head of the organizing committee of the competition and CEO of the CENTER, summed up by saying, “The FIFA World Cup™ has brought Samara Arena worldwide fame. This dominant architectural landmark means as much for the city as its famous Volga river embankment. The territory adjacent to the stadium should be used as productively as possible. We want this project to reflect the best that modern urban planning has to offer, so that Samara becomes the place where the most groundbreaking architectural concepts of our time come to life.”

The Samara Arena played host to six games during the World Cup, including a quarter-final, but was hit by development delays due to the complex nature of its roof design and disputes between local Government officials and contractors over costs. It finally opened in April 2018 and its current main tenant is Russian Premier Liga club Krylia Sovetov Samara.

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