Post Soviet Urbanism: Results of the Green Corridor Plan (1975)

In the 1980s, Ulaanbaatar was originally full of green areas, community-friendly courtyards and public parks[1]. The underestimation of the population growth[2] has rendered the incapacity of the Green Plan to handle the population growth, resulting to the gradual disappearance of large extents of green spaces without notice.

One of the examples is the Children’s Park, also regarded as the “Central Park” of Ulaanbaatar, which provided large green spaces for citizens to relax in the dense city[3]. The large pedestrian-only park was demolished in the 1990s to make way for high rise buildings construction of accommodating the increasing number of people.

Under the prosperity of industrialization in the 1970s, there was large influx of people into the capital city in search of job opportunities and a better quality of life. The intention of the Green Corridor Plan for a public green corridor was still present (illustrated in the historical plan of 1987 Green Corridor Plan (1975)/Historical Plans of Ulaanbaatar (1911-1998)) despite scattered green areas and courtyards around the city were slowly torn down to residential and industrial buildings, taking away the remaining public spaces in the dense city that were essential to the local living quality.

“The Communists suppressed many old Mongolian traditions, forcing the country into the bland mold of the Communist block, with its gray buildings, standardized apartments, factories, and lack of individuality.”[4]

Overall speaking, the Green Plan was successful in terms of introducing green open space into the city and the importance of public space, but was unable to sustain those spaces in the long run.

 

Fig. 1: The Children’s Park in 1980. (Source: Ulaanbaatar National Archives)

 

Fig. 2: One of the courtyards in the city which was later torn down (Source: “Post-Soviet Urbanism in Mongolia,” Polis, accessed December 19, 2018, https://www.thepolisblog.org/2009/06/post-soviet-urbanism-in-mongolia-by.html.)

 

[1]Post-Soviet Urbanism in Mongolia,” Polis, accessed December 19, 2018, https://www.thepolisblog.org/2009/06/post-soviet-urbanism-in-mongolia-by.html.

[2] Alexander C. Diener and Joshua Hagen, eds., From Socialist to Post-Socialist Cities: Cultural Politics of Architecture, Urban Planning, and Identity in Eurasia.(UK: Routledge, 2015), 100.

[3]Post-Soviet Urbanism in Mongolia,” Polis.

[4] Jennifer L. Hanson, Nations in Transition: Mongolia (USA: Facts On File, 2004), 97.

References:

Diener, Alexander C., and Joshua Hagen, eds. From Socialist to Post-Socialist Cities: Cultural Politics of Architecture, Urban Planning, and Identity in Eurasia. Association for the Study of Nationalities. UK: Routledge, 2015.

Hanson, Jennifer L. Nations in Transition: Mongolia. USA: Facts On File, 2004.

“Post-Soviet Urbanism in Mongolia.” Polis. Accessed December 19, 2018. https://www.thepolisblog.org/2009/06/post-soviet-urbanism-in-mongolia-by.html.

Ulaana. “Ulaana in Mongolia.” Children’s Park/Development. January 01, 1970. Accessed December 19, 2018. http://ulaanainmongolia.blogspot.com/2008/04/childrens-parkdevelopment.html.

2 Comments on “Post Soviet Urbanism: Results of the Green Corridor Plan (1975)

  1. This topic is interesting which reflects how the ideology of modern urban planning concepts from the other regime influenced and partially changed the traditional physical, social and mental life of the local Mongolian in Ulaanbaatar. Moreover, the informal settlements in the ger district was totally preserved after the land privatization and densification. I am concerning if there are some social problems in this informal settlements against the rest areas like the squatter areas in Hong Kong and urban villages in Mainland China.

    In addition, an interviewee who was a local urban planner opposing to the high-rise and high-density urban form said Ulaanbaatar had many land to build. But the posts also stated that Ulaanbaatar had overpopulation growth. So could you explain what in between links this two controversial opinion?

  2. Concerning the informal settlements, there are lack of basic infrastructure such as water supply and sewage system. The citizens tend to move into the city that provides better shelter and municipal services. Those with low financial status can only afford to live in a ger which creates stratification between the rich and poor just by observing whether they live in apartments or gers. Also, those who have money and power only focus on developing the city area while the ger districts which are comparatively more problemmatic do not get enough support for improvements. As a saying goes, “the rich gets richer, the poor gets poorer”, the informal settlements’ problems continue nowadays.

    Next, I would like to address the possible links between controversial opinions of Ulaanbaatar having enough land for development but is overpopulated. The main link is the land policy of Ulaanbaatar which limits the plot area for urbanization such that a lot of prairie land are protected. The limitation of developable area causes the urban master plan to be restricted in a small physical scale compared to the whole of Mongolian grounds. The concentration of planning in only Ulaanabaatar causes a hugh difference between the rural areas which attracted more and more people to enter the city, in the end causing overpopulation. I think if the planning can be spreaded to develop more small satellite cities in Mongolia, the overpopulation in Ulaanbaatar can be eased as people can be diverted to other locations instead of going to one city only.

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