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Mae team scoops competition to masterplan Russia’s oldest city

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An international team featuring Mae Architects has won a contest to remasterplan Derbent in Dagestan, Russia

The team, led by Russia’s Novaya Zemlya and featuring Groupe Huit of France and West 8 from Rotterdam, won a two-stage competition organised by Moscow’s Agency for Strategic Development CENTER.

It sought ideas to revamp the centre of Derbent, which overlooks the Caspian Sea and is thought to be the oldest city in Russia.

The call for concepts – backed by the I Love Derbent Charity Fund and the Government of the Republic of Dagestan – aimed to generate medium-term strategies for the socio-economic renewal of Derbent and its 12km embankment.

Finalists each received 2.5 million rubles (£31,000) to draw up conceptual proposals during the competition’s second round. The winning team will receive 4 million rubles (£50,000).

Mae founding director Alex Ely said: ’We are flattered to have the opportunity to plan the future of Russia’s oldest city and respond to this significant UNESCO world heritage site. It’s great that our team has been selected from 144 applications from 31 country.

‘Our winning strategy is aimed at building in resilience; addressing a lack of housing, education and cultural infrastructure and creating economic opportunity. We have developed a forward looking vision for Derbent which respects the unique identity and qualities of the city.’

Sergei Georgievskii, chief executive of the Agency for Strategic Development CENTER, said: ‘Thanks to the open international competition, the ancient city and the Republic of Dagestan will have unique designs implemented in accordance with the highest professional standards and at the same time taking into account the context of this unique territory.

‘It is very important that competitive practice is increasingly becoming a tool to solve the problems of the regions and implement the largest and most strategically significant projects.’

An international team featuring Mae Architects has won a contest to remasterplan Derbent in Dagestan, Russia

An international team featuring Mae Architects has won a contest to remasterplan Derbent in Dagestan, Russia

An international team featuring Mae Architects has won a contest to remasterplan Derbent in Dagestan, Russia

Derbent is 35km north-west of Russia’s border with Azerbaijan and became part of the Russian empire 200 years ago.

It occupies a strategically important strip of low-lying land between the Caucasus Mountains and Caspian Sea, and has always played an important role in controlling trade between the Middle East and Eurasian Steppe.

Alex Ely, founding director of Mæ said: ’We are flattered to have the opportunity to plan the future of Russia’s oldest city and respond to this significant UNESCO world heritage site. It’s great that our team has been selected from 144 applications from 31 country.

’Our winning strategy is aimed at building in resilience; addressing a lack of housing, education and cultural infrastructure and creating economic opportunity. We have developed a forward looking vision for Derbent which respects the unique identity and qualities of the city.’ 

Judges included Vladimir Vasiliev, head of the Republic of Dagestan; Irina Zamotina, chief architect of the Urbanika Institute; Isa Magomedov, chief architect of Derbent Town District; and Evgeniya Murinets, adviser to the president of the Union of Architects of Russia.

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