Development of biophilic cities in Russia: From ideal scientific town and Ecopolis to the green strategy of the modern megapolis

Maria Ignatieva, Elena Golosova, Irina Melnichuk, Victor Smertin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paper


In Russia, one of the most important steps in developing a biophilic vision and including nature as an important component of urban planning and design was the development of special ‘academic towns’ (akademgorodok) in late 1950s-early1960s. Biophilic principles were perfectly expressed in the planning, design and management practices of such specially designed ideal towns. This was the first manifestation of Soviet progressive urban planning principles and of attempts to design sustainable green cities for the future. The vision had strong theoretical and philosophical foundations and aimed to create ideal living conditions for Soviet scientists, who would have daily contact with nature and receive emotional and physical inspiration (live in harmony with nature) and thus work productively and make scientific discoveries. A special urban planning department in Moscow and numerous botanical gardens (important scientific research institutions in Russia) dedicated their efforts to designing green areas for such new scientific towns. Green belts surrounding cities and forest patches of various sizes were included in all city zones.
The next step towards the truly biophilic city was the programme Ecopolis in the late 1970s. Its foundation was the principle of constructive ecology, which aims to help humans manage the natural environment as a tool in coherent evolution of nature and society towards the noosphere. One of the main goals of Ecopolis was to create an optimal ecological and sociopsychological urban environment that could also incorporate nature protection functions in urban areas. For the first time in Russia, urban ecology and sustainable design practices were implemented in a real town, Pouschino (located 120 km from Moscow). Later, Ecopolis ideas emerged in other small, medium and large cities (Kosino, Korolev, Vologda and Uliyanovsk).
After 10 years of sweeping political and economic changes in Russian society in the 1990s, many cities revisited existing planning and design norms. In the past five years, a strong movement aiming to solve ecological crises has arisen in Russian megapolises (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhniy Novgorod, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok). Municipalities are revisiting planning and design policies and suggesting new visions for urban green infrastructure within their masterplans. In Russia, biophilia is traditionally associated with existing remnants of forests within city boundaries and protection strategies for these, especially trees. Concrete examples of using ecological design (design with nature) can be found in microdistricts of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Results from the research of academic towns, Ecopolis and examples from megacities are also discussed in this paper
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIFLA World Congress Singapore proceedings:
Subtitle of host publicationIFLA World Congress Singapore proceedings:
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2018
Event55th IFLA World Congress 2018 - , Singapore
Duration: 18 Jul 201821 Jul 2018


Conference55th IFLA World Congress 2018


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