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Samara Arena seeks to set post-World Cup benchmark with development plan

Authorities in the Russian city of Samara have launched an open international competition for one of the first projects designed to repurpose stadia developed for the country’s staging of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The competition concerns development of a masterplan for a 360-hectare area of land surrounding the 45,000-seat Samara Arena. Officials hope that the land, currently vacant, will be transformed into a hub for urban development and community, business, and cultural life.

The competition is part of comprehensive work that began in the region back in 2019. The work has included an analytical study and a professional competition in architecture and urban planning. The project was initiated 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), an analytical and consulting organisation, was chosen as the operator for the study and the competition procedure.

​The territory adjacent to the Samara Arena lies within the city limits and its scale can be demonstrated by the fact that over 500 football pitches could be accommodated within it. The Samara Region is among the first in Russia to attempt the integration of a major sports venue into the cityscape through the development of the adjacent territory. If applied successfully, authorities said the region’s solutions may be extended to other parts of the country.

​Dmitry Azarov, head of the competition’s judging panel and Governor of the Samara Region, said: “The territory adjacent to the Samara Arena stadium 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.”

The competition will have two stages and will conclude on June 18. Application submissions are ongoing until March 20. At the end of the first stage, the judges will name three finalists, who will then proceed to work on comprehensive territorial development concepts, making them as impactful and cost-effective as possible.

The competition is open to Russian and overseas organisations that specialise in 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.

Elena Lapushkina, Head of the Samara Urban District, said: “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.”

​As part of the comprehensive efforts related to the competition and the use of World Cup facilities, experts from CENTER conducted an analytical study that helped them to evaluate the post-tournament potential of the area around the stadium. One of the goals of this study, which will soon be made public, was to analyse relevant global projects involving the comprehensive development of land near major sports venues similar to Samara Arena.

Sergei Georgievskii, head of the organising committee of the competition and CEO of CENTER, added: “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 hosted six games during the World Cup, including a quarter-final, but was hit with 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.