Brest Fortress: what is it going to look like in 50 years? It is quite difficult to imagine. However, the Brest city is concerned now with this matter, trying not only to comprehend it, but also to define this idea in details, to outline it and afterwards to implement a reasonable idea, which comes to be a product of the different opinions and intellectual efforts of experts from various fields. The project „Brest-2019” was launched in November 2012 by municipal executive committee and by Vladimir Mikulik, an investor of Brest origin. Future perspectives of the project related to the most unique city area should be clear by December of this year. Recently, there took place a seminar called “Brest Fortress: today and tomorrow”.

Experts form different countries were invited to discuss plans. Four architectural groups from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine presented the initial versions of a master plan. The best concepts were discussed, examined and taken into account. These four concepts were revised with consideration for public comments received and then one overall concept was presented. However, it cannot be regarded as a final one.

What is the purpose of such careful attention paid to the border town? It is aimed to attract 2 million tourists to Brest a year. Do not be surprised. That’s right, I am refering to Brest, the fortress and its’ adjacent areas. In Soviet times, citadel stemmed the similar visitors’ onslaught, however the interest slowed down up to a few hundred thousand of people.

It is suggested to comprehend the future image of the fortress as the key development source of the city area as well as cross-border region. Modernity and comfort are going to be part of the historic heart of Brest. The fortress won’t be only cultural and historical core of the city, but it will serve also as business, partly residential and even recreational city centre.

It is little wonder that having such extensive plans opinions are divided on what is going to happen. Tense discussions in social networks on the topic are by no means surprising. All pros and cons as well as total rejection and magnificent chances of the project got mixed up while awaiting year 2019, which is considered to be the millennium of the city ofBrest. Though, researchers have already questioned the date of the first official reference to the city in historical sources. According to them, it was documented two years earlier…

Each of us has its own understanding and vision of Brest Fortress. As of today only one Brest resident Petr Kotselnikov remembers the early days of the war. He has not forgotten the post-war ruin. Some residents of the city see Brest Fortress as memorial inmemory of victims of the Great Patriotic War, others see it as fishing and gardening place. The fortress is regarded by some people as simply place of residence (a street and a couple of houses are located on the territory of the fortress) or area where a church and a monastery is situated. However, one can view it as picnic area, and no matter how sad it is some people use it for hiding cigarettes in a car before passing the border control.

In addition, Brest Fortress comes to be the area, which consists of many historical layers. The city started here. There was castle of Berestye, town hall, Brest printing-house ofMikołaj “the Black” Radziwiłł, the creator of the Brest Bible. Temples and monasteries of many different religious denominations coexisted here on the small territory. After all, in Brest the Union of Brest-Litovsk was accepted and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed. According to the promises made by the project participants all the above-mentioned will be taken into account when involving a sacred place into the modern urban landscape.

In olden times, the city was moved for the purpose of fortress building. Naturally, the question arises: do we need to destroy the fortress in a favour of something uncertain?

I have a letter in front of me from a reader Jury Grudovik, who is concerned with the ongoing construction works on “punching” of the new entrance to Brest Fortress, writing that “construction machinery activities are not managed carefully therefore the moat is already covered and this is a direct damage to the fortified site”. The reader is sure that the construction project is not scientifically justified and it worsens the perceptive image of fortified heritage. It is difficult to disagree with him, since the construction works have already started without any notice to the residents of the city. However, it would be advisable to inquire opinion of residents about the matter.

Today, many remain opposed to any kind of changes in the fortress; others understand that it is time to breathe new life into it.

Personally, I agree with the experts’ opinion, who think that single-minded focus and thedominant theme of defence of 1941 are disadvantages of Brest Fortress. It does not give a chance to see the historical place as the place where the city began.

The participant of the project “Brest-2019” dean of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences Sergej Zuev is convinced that there is a need for a “soft design concept”. This means that cooperation with the residents of the Brest city through involving them into a public debate is needed.  It is important to work with public opinion.

So far, an attempt to understand the opinion of the residents seems to be unsuccessful. Some residents are strongly opposed to the new plan, others agree with it. However most of them look the other way… 

Valentina Kozlovich/SB.
Translation Zaurazhnaja M.


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