Sochi is the largest resort city in Russia and one of the largest anchor resort towns on the Black Sea Coast. The city is also well-known for hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014 and for being one of the host cities of FIFA World Cup in 2018, making it an international destination with subtropical climate. Sochi is also home to the most famous concert hall in south of Russia, an art museum and numerous other cultural venues, giving the city a strong identity.
The winning proposal by UNStudio rebrands the Sochi Coast as SoCo, a revitalising leisure resort with inclusive mixed-use programmes that focuses on hospitality, business and integrating the cultural legacy of the existing city. It celebrates a healthy life and creates opportunities for locals and attractions for visitors.
“SoCo builds new trends on the backbone of existing resources. Nature, culture, and innovation are enhanced and integrated into SoCo’s identity. Embedded technology supports short and long-term targets and executes, monitors and enhances a built and green environment. But above all, SoCo is an inclusive community, ‘a place for all’,” said the studio.
The SoCo masterplan provides a well-balanced combination of principally flexible programmes and promotes Human-Nature interface, creating an inclusive and healthy city. The planning ensures 24-hour activities and smooth transitions between winter and summer months.
The masterplan creates five new districts, each with its unique identity and extending the city towards the water. Towards the south, the new marina city is conceived as a new business and innovation centre, catering to the international crowds with world-class amenities and a focus on nightlife.
Towards the north, the festival-city is designed to promote local community interaction and casual gatherings. This part is a low-intensity, community-focused face of SoCo, focusing on annual events and weekend markets.
One of the main design moves is the creation of ‘cultural spine’, which connects all the important cultural venues and becomes a place where people connect, perform, and exhibit their work. As one moves from north to south, the intensity and scale of development changes. Three themed districts — SoCo Playgrounds, SoCo Arts & Culture, and SoCo Healthy Lifestyle — present different character, different urban fabric and functional mix for various target groups. The access to Nature is common to all of these districts and the focus is on connecting the community with the outdoors.
The architects have also developed three different mobility routes — The Lanes, The Boardwalk and The Green Wave — connecting the waterfront to different districts, providing flexibility and three different speeds, atmospheres and experiences, as one moves along the waterfront.
Each route, further, is punctuated with what architects refer to as ‘Pops’ which are attractions such as concert halls, pop-up galleries, local markets, open air cinema, etc.
The masterplan builds upon European health strategy and creates new targets for the city of Sochi. The design includes monitoring of real time data on outdoor environmental health and this data informs residents and visitors how they interact with each other and the environment. The masterplan also includes carbon neutrality targets, increasing biodiversity, and improves urban climate resilience as part of holistic sustainable environmental strategy. The SoCo is aimed at creating an inclusive development, which promotes human wellbeing and sustainable city agenda, by promoting Human-Nature interface. The development promotes outdoor lifestyle, integrates greenery in horizontal and vertical dimensions and creates flexible spaces for community to come together.
Urban Design: UNStudio
UNStudio Team: Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos, Frans van Vuure with Dana Behrman, Alexander Kalachev and Melinda Matuz, Roman Kristesiashvili, Saba Nabavi Tafreshi, Vlad Cuc, Nataliya Kuznetsova, Olga Kotta, Yimin Yang
Placemaking & Branding: JTP Studio
Engineering & Cost: Spectrum Group
Local Architecture: Amirov Architects
Video Production: Boma Video Production
Visualization: ZOA Studio
Education and Culture: European Cultural Academy
Academic and Culture: Kuban State University