Sustainable initiatives to enhance waterfront neighbourhoods in St Petersburg

26.04.20 | News
Waterfront
Photographer
Ilya Davydov
Together with local residents, the co-operative project ‘Waterfront, Neighbourhood and Community’ has developed ideas for cultural and sustainable initiatives in four waterfront districts of St Petersburg. The project has been co-developed by Russia’s Street Art Research Institute and the Danish Cultural Institute in St Petersburg, with funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers.

In the project, urban planners, architects, artists, sociologists, engineers and marine biologists from the Nordic countries and Russia have collaborated with local communities in four districts of St Petersburg. The diversity of professional skills and nationalities in ‘Waterfront, Neighbourhood and Community’ has provided the basis for a new network which has created new knowledge and ideas for sustainable initiatives in residential areas along the waterfront. The fact that Waterfront is based on collaboration between professional disciplines, as well as countries, has added value to the project, says Henriette Borg Reinholdt, director of the Danish Cultural Institute in St Petersburg: 

- We have been able to bring experience in urban development from Helsinki, Turku, Stockholm, Malmö and Copenhagen to St Petersburg, where it has been greatly welcomed by the project participants, who are interested to see what their neighbouring countries have done to make their waterfront areas more attractive to users and more sustainable for the environment. 

Local community involvement creates the right direction

A central starting-point for the project has been the collaboration with local residents in the four districts, and their wishes and suggestions for initiatives in their local area have set the project’s direction. In order to create this involvement, the project leaders, Russia’s Street Art Research Institute and the Danish Cultural Institute, have held a wide range of workshops, meetings and art interventions to produce a good creative framework for innovative ideas.

- Many residents from the local areas have been able to get to know each other through the project, which has laid a good foundation for the continuing development of local initiatives and networks, explains Henriette Borg Reinholdt.

Knowledge that inspires across the Nordic countries and Russia

Another important element in the co-operative project has been to create a common network and platform for knowledge and the development of ideas between the Nordic countries and Russia. Project participants from Russia have therefore visited Denmark, Sweden and Finland to learn about the efforts of the Nordic countries in similar urban districts and coastal areas, and have brought back the knowledge gained here for the benefit of the project in St Petersburg, and for the inspiration of everyone in the Baltic region.

Many residents from the local areas have been able to get to know each other through the project, which has laid a good foundation for the continuing development of local initiatives and networks

Henriette Borg Reinholdt, director of the Danish Cultural Institute in St Petersburg 

Dialogue between countries, people and organisations

The project has given rise to entirely new ways of activating citizens and creating engagement. Through a multidisciplinary team, it has been possible to combine different methods and concepts that have not only strengthened the dialogue between the Nordic countries and Russia, but also between the local citizens, the authorities and companies in St Petersburg.

Nordic co-operative projects in Northwest Russia and the Baltic region

The Waterfront co-operative project is partly funded by the Nordic-Russian co-operation programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers. This initiative, in co-operation with NGOs in the Baltic region, aims to encourage new initiatives, build up skill sets and strengthen networks through various activities, including exchanges of experience.

The deadline has recently passed for applications for the 2020 round in both programmes, and 82 applications have been received. The successful candidates can expect to be informed in early July 2020.