The Finnish capital Helsinki and the most northern city in the world Norilsk in Russia share a passion for urban development. In the picture, a robot bus is cruising along the streets of Helsinki’s compact Pasila district. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

Life is motion. Not just a person or a group of people. It is a change and transformation of the space in which we live. Changing cities and agglomerations. Fundamental shifts are based on strategic or philosophical principles of how and why we develop.

Recent initiatives and reforms of planning systems in the Nordic countries (e.g. 2007 in Denmark, 2009 in Norway and 2011 in Sweden) have highlighted the strategic element of urban and regional planning.

Could the Russian Arctic city of Norilsk, which recently announced a global urban redevelopment program, use the experience of its neighbors?

The new initiatives in the Nordic countries and Norilsk have in common that they are in line with international trends and the general shift from planning by rules to planning by goals, from planning based on land use to more strategic forms of planning.

From an international perspective, Scandinavia’s planning systems are characterized by integrated planning; One of the similarities between the Nordic countries and Norilsk is that planning systems are focused on urban development and municipalities.

Since then, as urban planning projects have ceased to be “typical,”  new urban trends have emerged that have changed the attitude of society toward architecture.

The level of expectations has grown not only for the functionality of buildings but also for their appearance. Designers began to use innovative materials and digital design technologies that make it possible to implement original solutions that were previously inaccessible.

Innovation districts are characterized by two or more anchor locations such as universities, hospitals, and research centers. Distributed everywhere, innovative neighborhoods also include offices, shops, restaurants and open green spaces, with a particular focus on different transport options, often favoring public transport over cars.

Ride a bike, train, or even ice skate. Take advantage of the free outdoor gym in the well-kept park next to your office at lunchtime. Spend the weekend at an interactive design exhibition that you can walk to from your apartment. This may sound like dreamy Scandinavian stereotypes, but for many people living in this region, they are part of everyday reality thanks to a unique approach to urban planning.

Experts are confident that environmental friendliness should become the key direction of Norilsk’s urban policy. Especially considering the growing international interest in the Arctic, where the ice is melting most actively and the processes of global warming are especially noticeable on the planet.

Another top priority is the accessibility of the urban environment—everything you need within a 15-minute walk.

The 15-minute city vision is based on research to achieve a better rhythm of life in cities, which requires us to develop more multifunctional services. A building can serve several different functions during the day. For example, on weekends, the school can be used for other activities.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo was very interested in the 15-minute idea of ​​the city. The usual first measures are to restrict traffic and provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists. In Sweden, starting in Stockholm, an even more local concept was launched in the fall of 2020: The one-minute city concept called Street Moves focuses on the street environment right outside the door.

Some cities are trying to do this with new technologies. They offer mobility as a service, MaaS. Berlin, for example, has the Jelbi mobile phone app, which includes several general transport services such as bicycle rentals, electric cars of various types and taxis, and public transport. 27,000 cars are connected to the application. Malmö and Copenhagen are currently considering similar solutions to facilitate the mobility of residents and visitors. Door-to-door transportation using different vehicles can be booked through a single app.

In Oslo, the mobility of residents will be enhanced by autonomous vehicles, minibusses, which will complement the existing public transport network by offering new services.

Norilsk can generalize all the existing lines of modern urbanization—from the creation of cultural centers: museums, exhibitions, theaters and cinemas, the availability of offices and shops, and transport.

Creation of temporary winter infrastructure, for example, laying a ski track for sports activities, building winter entertainment towns, creating a rental base for winter sports equipment. The nature surrounding Norilsk, the international interest in the Arctic, is the most favorable for the development of the city.