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Sasaki’s Master Plan for Minsk, Belarus Turns an Airport Site Into a Vibrant Cultural Hub
Founded on state-of-the-art ecological and urban strategies, Sasaki’s urban master plan celebrates the rare opportunity to transform an existing 320-hectare urban airport site into a dynamic, attractive, and sustainable new district for the city of Minsk, Belarus. The plan provides a 24/7 vibrant, diverse, and balanced mixed-use program that celebrates the unique airport heritage, while also re-integrating regional ecological, vehicular, and public transport networks. The design brings Belarusian landscape heritage, ecology, and contemporary green living together to create a compact urban district.
A district park system extends from the existing regional riparian corridor to the south of the site. This system permeates the development to define several distinctive and walkable neighborhoods, creating a unique landscape—a “city in a forest.” Various high density urban centers associated with major transit stations provide strong focal points of activity and amenity within close proximity of all residents and visitors. Existing buildings and airport infrastructure across the site are retained and given new life. For example, the existing airport terminal is re-imagined as an air museum, and the existing runway is conceived as ‘Runway Park’—a linear park that links each neighborhood while serving key ecological and infrastructural aspects of the plan.
A centralized mixed-use, high-density boulevard links plazas across the site and connects the development with existing rail stations to the east and west. Along this boulevard, a commercial plaza and a future metro station provide a new civic heart for the development. The plaza will be constantly activated by pedestrians traveling between the metro and the office towers, which provide a stunning urban backdrop. This activity is strengthened by ground floor retail engaging the public realm, where water fountains, pavilions, tree groves, and lawns provide year round delight. The cultural plaza with museums, art galleries, and other uses is located on the west side of the site. The station plaza is located at the existing railway station on the east side. Additional public spaces bring a unique identity to each neighborhood and encourage walkability.
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