We are ahead of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. What will thousands of businessmen come to Ekaterinburg for?

Let’s think about it: six thousand entrepreneurs have visited the forum in Ekaterinburg. The most in-depth and comprehensive story about the program, opportunities and risks of a unique business event.

In 2018 Ekaterinburg will host 100+Forum Russia for the fifth time - it is an international congress and professional exhibition dedicated to design, construction, financing and operation of high-rise and unique buildings. Again the organizers faced a complicated task - to create a professional event that should feature all the properties of the site for a wide and open discussion about the future of the city. That is because the creation and operation of the objects the event is dedicated to inevitably influence the economy, architecture and finally the social life of the city.

DK.RU and Vera Belous, the head of the 100+ Forum Russia organization working group, have discussed the features of this year’s Forum that will distinguish it from the previous four events and what the business community can expect from one of the most unique professional events in the country.

Vera, let’s dig into so-called raw spots of such large-scale projects: the first one I believe is the problem of combining the target audiences. The Forum is intended for two audiences: for those who know construction from inside out and for an average representative of the business community. Is it possible to bring together their interests?

- The 100+ Forum audience is quite a great deal more difficult. These are construction market professionals - architects, designers, builders, developers, representatives of scientific institutions, government officials, students from specialized universities, public organizations representatives.

This year business program includes over 50 thematic sections specified by their purposes. We provide 30 sections (60%) for focused specialists, 11 sections for those involved into architecture and urban development (22%), 5 sections (10%) are designed for a wide range of visitors and 4 (8%) sections address to technical standards issues. First and foremost, the forum aims at construction industry experts, therefore seminars, round tables and lectures on engineering and geological surveys, foundation calculations and construction, utility facilities, structural features of buildings, facades and fire protection take up most of the time. This part of the program is much in demand.

In this regard we have already gained reputation. Thus, visitors from other cities attend the forum to take part in workshops held by Alexander Kolubkov, the recognized expert in utilities, for example, as well as sections conducted by experts from the Stroitelstvo Scientific Research Center, Alexander Trufanov’s speeches on soil exploration and Oleg Shulyatiev’s presentations on design and construction of bases and foundations.

No doubt that recognized experts contribute a lot to the event but how do you manage to stay relevant? Still, the subject you deal with is quite specific and this is the fifth time you arrange the event. It seems that they all are talking about the same things once again.

- You see, cycle projects feature strengths and weaknesses. We aim at improving our strengths. Just think of what does an annual event imply? It provides the participants with the opportunity to renew the topical subject and check what has been done over the past year. Relations between government bodies and construction industry is an excellent example. Each year the forum holds a separate session with the Ministry of Construction representatives and management of subordinate organizations (Glavgosekspertisa FAU FTsS). The session addresses the development of regulatory and technical documentation. We have a summary document adopted after the first forum in 2014 - a business road map to improve the business climate in high-rise and unique construction. We update this document every year, identify the purposes that have been accomplished and set new goals and objectives.

How do you arrange the program then?

- Every year we define the key subject of the forum. This time we have identified the subject as: “Information Modeling Technologies - the Beginning of the Digital Construction Era”, we are referring to the so-called BIM-technologies. We do realize that the future is in the rise of digitalization. We should be ready for it and even more than this - we should be several steps ahead. During the forum, well-known Russian and foreign experts will present the most interesting cases implemented through BIM-technologies - for instance, experts will share their experiences in construction and operation of the Empire State Building, Lakhta Center, Akhmat Tower and sports facilities.

Let’s make a comparative analysis between this year’s event and the one that took place in 2017. What are the innovations your visitors shall expect?

- Work format that definitely requires diversification is of crucial importance for us. A large-scale exhibition, technical tours and one-day forums present the key innovations of the year.

We did not come to all this at once. The forum has always hosted a small-scale exhibitions - several construction companies have placed their display stands in the forum part so that the participants could get acquainted with the activities of the companies between the sessions. Last year we considered to hold a small-scale exhibition of the achievements in the construction, modern developments and innovative technologies. We tried to combine theory and practice so that the forum experts give a talk about technical innovations and after the session one is able to see them real.

Last year we enjoyed considerable success while holding parallel events - the forum and the exhibition which was referred to as 100+ Technologies. Then in addition to the forum pavilion, we occupied the third pavilion of Ekaterinburg-EXPO, and 86 companies took part in the exhibition. We are planning to attract around 150 exhibitors to take part in the exhibition this year. The 100+ Technologies applicants are carefully selected, the products they present and the technologies they introduce shall be innovative.

Our exhibition presents unique scientific developments that are exclusive in Russia and sometimes even worldwide. For example, the model of a landscape wind tunnel by Krylov Research Center from Saint-Petersburg. This facility is intended for testing of unique and high-rise constructions, bridges. Some companies consider participation in the forum and exhibition as an opportunity to present themselves and their developments. Thus, last year the first Ural construction 3D printer was presented at 100+ Technologies.

Moreover, in 2018 the exhibition will be extended by new directions - digital technologies in construction and architectural lighting. This refers to the exhibition part of the event. Around 800 sq.meters will be occupied by the exposition of the XIV International Architecture and Design Contest “EURASIAN PRIZE 2018” - that is the exhibition of the works by the participants of the “Ruka Mastera” (Master’s Hand) Contest. The exhibition of construction machinery will be located at the entrance of the Ekaterinburg-EXPO IEC.

On the first day of the forum, we plan to organize a number of technical tours to the high-rise and unique constructions of the city. Ekaterinburg presents itself as the first city after Moscow where the first sky-scrapers were built, one of which has the status of the northmost sky-scraper in Europe. The construction works were carried out by local construction companies. The city features various interesting construction projects in terms of technologies and architecture, including the new stadium erected for the FIFA World Cup 2018, the congress-center and unique residential complexes that can be of a considerable interest for the city guests. We will select a number of buildings to give some tours around them for the forum participants. Technical tours will be free for everyone though pre-registration is required.

One-day forums are scheduled for December 5th. We also plan to conduct a BIM-forum dedicated to the application of BIM-technologies in construction and design, the first international forum of urban-planning, architecture and design ARCH EURASIA that is designed as a platform for communication between Eurasian city planners, urbanists, architects and designers and a forum of the Urals Construction Commonwealth.

Could you please comment on competition matters then.  Why should an entrepreneur or an expert, let’s say, from the Volga region who is interested in the subject visit Ekaterinburg instead of Moscow or Saint-Petersburg?

- This is the only place in Russia where such a large-scale and intense engineering forum with unique concentration of the industry practitioners is conducted. There, the participants can exchange views, get new information and direct answers from the authorities concerning pressing questions, as well as “give a touch” to everything we talk about - it is the second year that the exhibition of construction technologies and materials is an integral part of the event.

You have mentioned a number of key speakers at the beginning of our conversation. What is important to know about the forum speakers? Who is going to give a speech and what are the topics?

The forum business program is being actively developed now. We invite well-known Russian and international experts. The list of speakers includes both regular participants and those who will come to Ekaterinburg for the first time. We are negotiating with Collin Ellard, the author of “Places of the Heart. The Psychogeography of Everyday Life”. He is the Director of the Urban Realities laboratory, a famous researcher, professor of neuropsychology and psychogeography.

Christos Passas, Associate Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, will attend the forum for the second time. Together with Zaha Hadid, the architect took part in the projects of Lois Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati (USA), Phaeno Science Centre in Wolfsburg (Germany), shopping and office building Opus Office Tower in Abu-Dhabi (UAE), Sheikh Zayed Bridge in the capital of the United Arab Emirates and Reina Sofia Museum Extension in Madrid (Spain). Ekaterinburg forum provides a remarkable opportunity to attend unique lectures of the world speakers who rarely visit Russia and usually give their speeches in Moscow. We make it possible to meet them here for many people.

Our regular participants - Philipp Nikandrov and Vladimir Travush are preparing for the forum as well. We are expecting Nikolay Shumakov, the President of the Union of Architects of Russia, to visit the forum, too.

If for a moment we set aside the international nature of the project and think about it in terms of Ekaterinburg, then activities that reflecting the relationship between architecture, construction and development of the territory we inhabit are definitely of a great interest.

- Without a doubt, the forum addresses Ekaterinburg as well within the framework of the specified subject. I suppose we will never deviate from that. We believe it is necessary to discuss the urban environment issues, to consider the development projects in the city center and to examine the proposals for the improvement of public areas and the creation of modern and comfortable infrastructure near newly built facilities. We aim at considering these issues taking into account the experience of other cities.

We have invited Oksana Garmash, the Director of the Genplan Institute of Moscow, who will speak on spatial and urban development of Russian cities. The forum will host Narine Tyutcheva’s workshop (Rozhdestvenka architectural bureau) on the renovation of urban spaces on all the three days. A real object which requires renovation and is located in the city will be selected for the project work. Under the guidance of experienced architects, the participants of the training event will develop the best project for renovation of the area selected. We plan to hold a vote among the citizens so that the residents will choose the object for the workshop themselves.

Honestly, do you expect the subject to vanish? Do you think that soon you will have to change the subject of the entire forum?

- It may seem that this is a narrow subject and it will quickly outlive itself since high-rise buildings are not erected here as actively as in Asian countries such as China but if you look at the subject more closely the high-rise construction covers various aspects at all stages from the project development to operation. And this provides the basis for innovation.

At the same time, we understood that it would be impossible to address one and the same topic (high-rise construction) for several years. So gradually new issues concerning construction of other unique facilities have appeared within the forum. We have added issues concerning bridge construction, development of urban underground space, transportation hubs, urban planning and conformable environment challenges. Any object is constructed with due consideration to the urban structure. The city implies many aspects that should interact with each other.

In addition to construction much attention is focused on the architecture. We are trying to establish the required dialogue between all participants of the construction industry, including architects, builders and city residents. And that actually means that the subject does not only cover the discussion about “how to build a high-rise”. This is about creation and development of a new space and the way this process changes our life, whether business or social, and - I do hope - makes it better.