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Problems, Errors and Incidents in Building Design & Planning

Political risks in building design. Designed in the wrong place. Built the wrong thing in the wrong place. At the end of March 2017, Snob and Kommersant magazines reported the legal action taken with the demand to declare illegal the designing and construction of two residential complexes with the total area of 800,000 sq.m. on the territory of the Moscow State University. These were the well-known Shuvalovskiy and Dominion communities. The action was brought by Rosreestr (The Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography). The demands were the following: both complexes must be pulled down or compensation in the amount of 2,000,000,000 rubles must be paid. The simple truth was that on the given site, Inteko Company had permission to design a complex of educational buildings for the Moscow State University, and wanted to build commercial property for sale. But it was in 2004 that the law and regulatory authorities were keeping silence (about Inteko). The time came (2015 – the year of commencement of a legal action) and the law was triumphant. Now such activities are strictly punished. However, there are other companies, under other names, which do the same thing on other building sites. But the time comes – and the law shall triumph.

Unplanned changes. Numerous changes in building specifications in the course of project design works present one of the most common problems in building planning and design. Before the works start, the customer and the planner-designer draw up a comprehensive project statement, where all specifications and all requirements for the building to be designed are thoroughly described. Later on, the planner is carrying out project design works in strict accordance with this statement. The approved statement is part of the design contract (without the statement, the contract is null and void). In practice, planners have to face numerous changes, requests and additions made by the customer. It is alright if the customer, having certain standards of behavior, describes all the alterations in appropriate letters or makes changes to the statement. It is even better if at the same time the customer allocates proper resources – extra time and money. After all, the planning process has its own economics, and the planner’s resources are not infinite – they are meant for the specific project. Unfortunately, most often, customers “accompany” the planning process with inconsistent and contradictory verbal instructions.

Illegally designed storeys at risk of future demolition. A high-rise building on Mosfilmovskaya Street in Moscow, 2012. At the beginning of 2012, the distressful Donstroy’s high-rise building on Mosfilmovskaya Street, built in violation of height restrictions, was finally put into operation. The five upper storeys of the building were declared illegally built back in Luzhkov’s time, when anti-unauthorized construction task forces revealed an excessive number of storeys. The authorities made an insistent demand that excess storeys should be pulled down despite the developer’s desperate resistance (the complex penthouse apartments to be demolished were meant for Donstroy’s co-owners). The builders had already started demolition works and pulled down parts of the concrete roof, pylons, and windows, when the Urban Planning and Land Commission under Sobyanin resolved not to demolish the upper storeys and accept the building for operation in its current state.

Illegal multi-storey residential buildings on garden allotments. In 2010 – 2012, in Moscow Oblast there was a great sweep of illegal projects and construction of apartment houses on garden allotments with their future sale as separate apartments. When the local authorities, which in most cases condoned the process, and the unlucky buyers got to the bottom of it, the very go-ahead developers had been long gone… Naturally, there was flagrant infringement of the applicable procedure for designing, planning and approving building construction in the Russian Federation. The developers took advantage of loopholes in the law, credulous citizens and their connections with the local authorities. Only in Mytishcinskiy District, 22 illegally built projects were detected. The process of illegal planning and construction of multi-storey buildings on garden allotments had started gaining momentum (Odintsovskiy, Krasnogorskiy, Mytishchinskiy, Leninskiy districts), when one court after another began to order that the illegally built houses should be pulled down. Finally, at the beginning of August 2012, law enforcement officers began the demolition of the five-storey apartment house in Veshki settlement of Mytishcinskiy District. The media effect was significant. This illegal scheme is likely to have finally found its end…

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