In the second half of 2014, LapLab together with ATRIUM architectural studio (Moscow) and Lighting Design Austria was invited to participate in the second round of the Olonkholand Complex International Competition in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).
With an extreme subarctic climate Yakutsk has the coldest winter temperatures for any city. Although winters are long and extremely cold, summers are warm though rather short. The lowest temperature recorded in Yakutsk was −64.4 °C and the highest was +38.4 °C. Yakutsk is the biggest city built on continuous permafrost, and most houses there are built on concrete piles.
The project Olonkholand is an actual idea of creation of cultural hi-tech sector in which invaluable traditions of intangible heritage of humanity, Yakut heroic epos Olonkho, and modern advanced technologies will be combined. The Olonkholand complex will be built on the area of about 47 hectares, located on the bank of Yakut sacred lake Saisar, just a minute’s walk from the North Eastern Federal University. The landscape and architectural concept of the complex has to display the Yakutia spirit and identity.
Our project takes its main motive from the Yakutian landscape – its hills, alases, river meanders, and the landscapes they create. This variety is the special quality of Siberian nature, covered in permafrost, but so life affirming. Geometry in nature The geometry of Yakutian nature is at the same time succinct and boundless. Subtle changes over time create breathtaking vistas. The thawing of permafrost gives birth to epic almost perfectly circular alas valleys with lakes in the middle. Great riverbed meanders infinitely across the land. This nature is alive and powerful. Our desire to create a natural chaotic structure in the rigid urban grid led us to the laws of fractal geometry, which has complexity and variety, like the seemingly chaotic birth of alases and shifting rivers of this land of Sakha.
The planting principle lies in forming an enduring quality vegetation community, which can develop with little help on its own in the harsh climate of Yakutsk. Saline soils, dry winds and severe winters make it hard to create a stable new ecosystem in this city. Meanwhile Yakutian nature is beautiful and deserves to be replicated. Local plants adapted to the harsh climate and have a better chance of thriving and making the park a success.
For each section of the park, the plants are selected so that they create a colourful picture for most of the year. Even in winter there will be splashes of color with the help of evergreens and shrubs of Cornus alba with their red sprouts.
There are key epic images that form the coordinate system of Olonkholand: they are functional, educational and symbolical, creating Orto Doidu – Middle world – a lush, free and rich country, where the yakut people live in happiness. At the center of the Alaas is the world tree Al Luk Mas, the unwavering center of the world order, which vertically connects the three worlds of the Olonkho universe.