Russian connection

Ekaterinburg Business Park Masterplanning

Philip Kassanis freelancing for Consultant Line Architects
September 2010

We won the tender against international competition to review the masterplanning for a 13 Ha business park in Ekaterinburg.

The client, DeltaBox, is the developer part of a group of companies that between them handle the complete range of activities necessary for the development and running of a business complex, from investment through to management and catering. The group has been involved in operating this site for about 7 years and aims to transform it from an assorted collection of businesses and functions into a place that can be described as a Business Park. In doing so it should be the first of its kind in Ekaterinburg and as such holds a unique position.

We carried carried out an Enquiry by Design style dialogue with DeltaBox. The bulk of this consisted of a series of interactive workshops on site, over a period of 4 days, resulting in a progression of 4 sketch schemes with options.  The 7 most important issues for the client were identified and rationalised into 3 key areas central to all masterplanning and urban design. The work was then synthesised into a design concept that could act as the driving principle behind all future masterplanning. It was not necessarily the definitive solution because of the limitations of a quick workshop exercise but it modelled an approach that could be repeated with the benefit of hindsight and, in line with the Enquiry by Design philosophy, there is nothing more effective than a design solution for highlighting what the real issues are.

As the interactive process unfolded we were able to gather critical information about the content of DeltaBox’s masterplanning to date. From this we formed conclusions about the state of the masterplanning which could then inform a raft of detailed recommendations, the main thrust of which would be to invest heavily in confirming the design concept – including a clear design rationale – and use this to govern all future masterplanning. The recommendations show that this could be the beginning of a process that becomes ever more detailed as it progresses but provides robustness to each stage giving confidence about tackling the detail, knowing that it is built on secure foundations. A three iteration design cycle was recommended to achieve this.