18 June 2021

General Construction Expert of LLC STG-Vostok: “The Cultural and Educational Complex on Russky Island will be Decorated with Unique Far Eastern Plants”

Project

The construction of a campus for the best cultural educational institutions of Russia is being continued by Stroytransgaz on Russky Island. Aleksandr Meschersky, general construction expert, spoke about life in Vladivostok, preparations for the typhoon season, and plans for gardening on the territory of the cultural and educational complex by the beginning of the academic year.

“Mr. Meschersky, Vladivostok is the extreme southeastern point of Russia and the country's geopolitical outpost in Asia. Have you been enthusiastic about the opportunity to work here?”

“That's one way of looking at it. I well remember the day when I learned that I was going to Vladivostok. After completion of a project on Solovetskie Islands, where we reconstructed the runway, my boss called me when I was on my rotational leave and said that we were going to an island again, but did not specify which one. There were two options – either Kaliningrad or Russian Island. And for some reason I immediately realized that we were going to Vladivostok.

Frankly speaking, at first I wanted to go to Kaliningrad more – it is closer to home. But, at the same time, I heard a lot of good things about Vladivostok from friends who have been here, so I took up the appointment with interest.”

“Has your life changed a lot compared to your experience on Solovetskie Islands?”

“After Solovetskie Islands, Russky Island is the centre of civilization (laughing). There was only the sea around, 300 kilometres by plane to Arkhangelsk. And here is a city a few minutes away, and the living conditions are better. We are living on the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University, in building number 1, which was built for the 2012 APEC summit. I would say that after the guest houses where we had to live at some facilities, the conditions are luxurious. And it is very beautiful here – the sea, rocks, nature.

Life is in full swing on the campus, there are always many students around, and recently players also came to participate in the World Go Championship (an international tournament held in Vladivostok from 3 to 9 June that gathered fans of the world's oldest intellectual game from 57 countries and regions. For the first time in history, the World Go Championship was held outside the countries of Asia, – author's note ). They were sitting in the lobby, moving checkers, practicing. As a child, by the way, I also tried to play Go, but somehow it didn't work out. And now I came into contact with this game again.”

“Do you have spare time to walk along the famous FEFU embankment?”

“Unfortunately, I do not have much spare time. Working hours at the construction site end at 8 pm, then a two-kilometre walk to the building, and it's high time to rest. But the guys who are younger, of course, walk around the territory, go to the gym located right in the building.”

“What are the peculiarities of work in regions remote from the capital? Does the time zone difference have a big impact on your work? Or are there problems with logistics?”

“From the point of view of logistics, Stroytransgaz has never had any problems – we work well, even on Solovetskie Islands we did not feel any deficit. There were no problems with equipment maintenance or material supply even if we speak about small items. And here all shops are nearby, everything is on sale.

As for the time zones, the only thing is that we need to wait until 4 pm to call the office. In general, there are no difficulties with it.”

“Was the weather a surprise? Last November, Vladivostok was hit by an ice storm and Russky Island was kind of under siege. You weren't here yet, did your colleagues tell you anything about it?”

“To understand the scale, it is enough to see the consequences – broken trees and so on.

In general, the weather conditions, if anything, are not very different. I come from Volgograd, where the temperature range is very wide – from minus 30 to plus 40 degrees. So, I am accustomed to almost any weather.”

“Typhoon season is coming. Are you preparing for it in any special way, weighing the risks?”

“My colleagues are surely “threatening” me with typhoons, and I have certain concerns that weather conditions might affect the pace of construction. We try to work so as to prevent any erosion by rain. If we do excavation work, we immediately close the pit, backfill and compact it. Just as it should be according to the standards. You can't get away from force majeure, but we are making every effort to mitigate the impact. The main thing is to have enough time to prepare for hard coating.”

“You are responsible for landscaping at the STG-Vostok construction site on Russky Island. What are your top-priorities for now?”

“Landscaping includes the development of a vertical layout of the territory, development of roads and sites, as well as gardening. Now, we are developing relief and making a foundation for road pavements in the educational and residential area. The pavement thickness will be 710 millimetres of sand, gravel, and asphalt, which is enough to ensure the traffic of vehicles with a payload of 16 tons on each axle. The total area of roads will exceed 40 thousand square metres.

Besides, work is underway to form relief of the slope above the retaining wall. There used to be a shapeless mountain before we started to work, and now – three months later – slopes and terraces for organized drainage are already in place.”

“Are the working conditions on Russky Island different from those you had before?”

“The most obvious feature is the absence of continental soil. In fact, the whole site is located on filled man-made soil, which creates certain difficulties when constructing a foundation for road pavements and installing utility systems. We have to replace unsuitable soil with a sand and gravel mixture, and in case of large volumes – with rocky soil.”

“You mentioned that gardening is also planned.”

“In the near future, work to build an asphalt concrete pavement is to start, including the installation of a curb stone, sandy and crushed stone base. In parallel, work will start on the arrangement of a soil-vegetation layer for gardening. The project gardening includes mainly specific zoned plants – varieties that are the landmark of the Far East and Primorsky Territory. These are, for example, Ayan spruce, Far Eastern birches, Daurian and Virginian junipers, deciduous shrubs such as Purplebloom maple and Villous lilac, as well as hedges of white Amur lilac and Siberian dogwood. The area to be covered by the lawn will exceed 60 thousand square metres, which is eight and a half times the area of the lawn on the football field of the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.”

“Another challenge you are facing at the construction site of the cultural and educational complex is the connection of facilities to external utility networks. At what stage are you now?”

“At the moment, our main focus is heating networks. We are laying on-site heating networks, preparing tie-ins in the existing heating system.

The main networks of general and storm sewage systems have been completed, construction and installation work is being completed on the storm water storage tank and treatment facilities, where water will be purified from oil products, solid inclusions, as well as ultraviolet treatment will be performed.”

“Is there anything that complicates your work?”

When we were laying utility networks, there was a section of monolithic rock in the area of treatment facilities. We had to cut it, which greatly complicated the work. However, we were a success.  In general, I would note that we are fully provided with material resources, vehicles, and tractors to solve the set tasks with high quality and on time.”

“What are the most difficult conditions you, in general, have faced over the years of experience in the construction industry?”

“It's hard to build in swamps. There are, of course, certain technical solutions, but problems begin with logistics – traffic around the site, delivery of materials. If main pipelines are to be laid, such work can be performed there in winter only. In case of capital construction, we have to do it in the summer on the contrary.

There are very good conditions on the Russian Island, in this regard. There are no problems at all with logistics – no swamp or clay here, it is very easy to make temporary roads.”

“Do challenges make you stronger, make you look for non-standard ways of problem-solving?”

“The main thing is that experience is being gained. You solve problems already knowing how to do it. One needs to find a solution, use what they have, and just do it.

In swamps, for example, we used the material at hand – felled wood – to fill excavations. It was very effective. In another place, it was the other way around – the site was flooded with water, clay soaked, and vehicles could not work. We had to remove the top layer after each rain until we could reach the dry ground. Cause we could not miss the deadline.”

“As for the project of the cultural and educational complex itself, do you have a feeling that you are involved in something big, that are you helping to spread the influence of Russian culture to new regions, including outside the country?”

“Of course, all of us here understand that we are doing a good thing. Such facilities are not built every year – hundreds, thousands of children will have a chance to study in the best cultural institutions of the country not far from their homes. And after highly qualified personnel is hired, the general level of culture will rise, although in Vladivostok it is already very high.”

“As a professional, looking at the project of the cultural and educational complex, what features would you note?”

“The architectural solutions are amazing. Facades of the academy of choreography, educational school, checkpoint – of the entire educational area. Everything here is very well thought out and made especially for children, for future students. There are many sports grounds with rubberized cover, a swimming pool, a large gym. And an important advantage is that in bad weather you don't have to go outside at all – all the buildings are connected to each other by air passages. No rain will be a problem.”

“For you personally, will the construction of this complex become a special memory?”

“I have already completed my most important project – a stadium in my home city of Volgograd for the World Cup. It is a monumental structure, a very interesting project, and I participated in the construction from the very beginning to the end. I am very proud of it – I even watched a football match there, although I don't really like football. The stadium is very beautiful, the residents of Volgograd love it. I am sure that the residents of Vladivostok will also value the cultural and educational complex. It will be an outstanding facility to become the heart of cultural life in the Far East for many years to come.

To recap, Stroytransgaz Group is building cultural and educational parks in Vladivostok and in three other Russian cities at the request of the Social and Cultural Projects Fund National Cultural Heritage as instructed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Vladivostok, a large-scale cultural cluster will be located on two sites.

An educational park is being built on Russky Island, its total building area is more than 90 thousand square metres. It will comprise an educational centre for 550 students with a dining room and a swimming pool, a branch of the Central Music School at the Moscow State Conservatory named after P.I. Tchaikovsky and the Choreographic Academy – a branch of Moscow State Academy of Choreography. Educational buildings and boarding facilities will be interconnected by warm air passages.

Also on this site, a dormitory with beds for 150 students is being built, as well as two boarding facilities of educational institutions and three apartment buildings for teachers and artists.

STG-Vostok will build a large-scale museum and theatre centre on Aksakovskaya street. It will house branches of the country's largest museums - Hermitage, Russian Museum, Tretyakov Gallery, and a branch of Mariinsky Theater.

All the buildings under construction were designed to withstand frequent temperature fluctuations, tsunamis, and possible earthquakes that the region is occasionally exposed to.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the new cultural development centre in Vladivostok will be a spiritual growth centre and a cluster of Russian multinational culture.

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