The southwestern Russian city of Saratov has announced the two winning designs in the Open International Competition for the Best Architectural and Urban Planning Concepts for the Integrated Development of Saratov’s City Centre, a call for ideas that creatively reimagine the central part of Saratov. The Russian Citymakers-led team and the Dutch Karres en Brands-led team tied for first place, and both will move on to the implementation phase for select parts of their winning designs. Both concepts emphasize an abundance of green space, a celebration of local culture and the inclusion of diverse, eco-friendly recreational opportunities.

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Launched July of last year, the three-stage Saratov design competition challenged participants to redesign the city center, a 688-hectare area that includes the grounds of the former airport Saratov-Central, Ostrov Zeleny (Green Island), Park Pobedy (Victory Park), Glebuchev Ovrag (Glebuchev Ravine) and Pokrovskie Peski Island.

Related: West 8 and Studio 44 win Tuchkov Buyan Park competition in St. Petersburg

rendering of spiraling, elevated wood pathway
rendering of round wood observation towers emitting purple and blue lights

A jury of international and Russian experts, including the likes of West 8 co-founder Adriaan Geuze and president of the Union of Architects of Russia Nikolay Shumakov, evaluated proposals on the Principles of Spatial Development, a set of guidelines that promote livability with concepts such as reducing car dependency with pedestrian-friendly spaces and site-specific features that highlight local culture.

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rendering of kids playing in fountain in city square

The two winning finalists were selected via an online poll that garnered over 10,000 votes from the residents of Saratov city and the Saratov region. The Citymakers-led team — which includes Arteza, Megabudka, the Biology department of Saratov State University and the Transportation Design Studio — will oversee the redevelopment of Ostrov Zeleny, the Park Pobedy, and Pokrovskie Peski Island into a series of nature-focused public parks. The second winning team, led by Karres en Brands that also includes Mandaworks design studio and Kosmos architects, will redevelop the former airport into a new urban center and the Glebuchev Ovrag into a public destination for leisurely recreation. 

+ Saratov Competition

Images via Saratov Competition

aerial map of a park