TAIF: billions of rubles for history preservation and public space development

What has been transformed in the Republic of Tatarstan with the help of TAIF Group?

Parks, squares, embankments, pedestrian streets and boulevards, magnificent buildings and religious centres... Public spaces today are not just platforms for recreation and communication of people but also an effective tool for the development of settlements and entire regions. The presence and thoroughness of such spaces is an important component of the attractiveness of the territories for the families of specialists of nearby industries. The success of enterprises increases the interest of investors in the territories. TAIF Group is an active participant of the republican programme of development of public spaces of Tatarstan. Every year, the companies, part of the group, undertake the most difficult tasks, making the republic even more beautiful, comfortable and better. About what has already been done by TAIF and where the works continue — read in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

Tatarstan: 315 objects in 5 years

The place where people can walk with children without fear for their lives and health, go for a jog in the morning, to the accompaniment of the splash of waves or the rustle of leaves, and then work out on simulators in the open air, the place where one can just lie on the grass or in specially installed sun loungers, and where it’s not shameful to invite a loved one to watch a sunset or invite friends from other cities. These are all public spaces. Everyone wants to be comfortable, beautiful and, importantly — safe, was not only at home but also in the nearby areas.

In 2015, the programme of development of public spaces was launched in the republic at the initiative of President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov. It is aimed at creating a modern and comfortable environment in the settlements of each municipal district of the region. Starting from parks and squares, the programme has covered almost the entire list of public areas: pedestrian streets, embankments of rivers and lakes, beaches, squares and boulevards... By the end of 2018, 315 public spaces have already been revived, renovated or created from scratch in Tatarstan at the expense of republican, federal and sponsorship funds. In 2019, it is planned to improve 63 more territories, including 8 in Kazan, and the total amount invested in the programme will approach 13 billion rubles.

From the first days, TAIF has been an active participant in the implementation of the republican programme for the development of public spaces. To be entirely objective, this work was started almost simultaneously with the formation of the group and has been carried out unceasingly. Public centres, majestic mosques and temples, historical sites — TAIF Group does not spare money to make the life in the republic comfortable.

The unique entertainment centre and park on the place of the wasteland and long-delayed construction site

It is hard to believe, but in the early 1990s, in the heart of Kazan on Moskovskaya Street — opposite the Kremlin and in the immediate vicinity of the Bolaq — there was an old, dilapidated building of long-term construction. In the Soviet years, the construction of the largest in the capital of Tatarstan cinema, which was to be called Rossiya, started there. But... the project was never completed. Closer to the mid-90s, the ruins were demolished, and in 1996 in their place the active work on the construction of the first and still the largest in the country full-fledged cultural and entertainment centre — Piramida, which was destined to become one of the architectural symbols of modern Kazan, began.

The very idea to create an entertainment complex in Kazan where under one roof everything that a person needs for rest would be gathered: a multifunctional concert hall, restaurants and cafes, a fitness club and a nightclub, a bowling centre, a beauty salon, a television studio, a convenient parking, etc., belongs to the chief adviser to the director general of TAIF PSC, Radik Shaymiev. The project was first worked on by American designers who proposed the shape of a star, but Tatarstan architects Gulsine Tokareva and Viktor Tokarev offered a more interesting and meaningful option — a pyramid. The most ancient architectural form, known since the time of the Mayan people and Egyptian pharaohs, echoing the shape of the domes of the towers of the Kazan Kremlin, and seven-tiered like the tower of Queen Suyumbike, with the use of modern technology and materials, is infused with modern rapidity and individuality. The project cost TAIF Group $40 million.

In 2002, on the day of the solemn opening of Piramida complex with a concert and a laser light show, First President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev called Piramida “the symbol of our aspirations”, and former President of Russia Boris Yeltsin, who arrived in the republic with a visit, said that “as a builder by profession, who has visited 60 countries, he has never seen something like Kazan Piramida.”

The mirror, rising more than 20 meters up sides of Piramida, its comfortable terraces and a cosy square, have become a real centre of attraction. Few of the guests of Kazan can resist and not to take a photo of it. It hosts numerous international conferences, summits and forums, welcomes guests of the International Festival of Muslim Cinema, beauty contests, professional and creative festivals. But it is especially important that Piramida, which combines in its architecture a deep antiquity and modern style, very harmoniously fit into the public space of the historical centre of the millennial Kazan.

Legendary Kul Sharif Mosque

The beautiful and majestic mosque of the century proudly carried its minarets over the old Kazan. But in 1552, during the storming of the capital of the Kazan Khanate by the troops of Ivan the Terrible, the temple fell, together with its defenders, one of the leaders of which was the spiritual leader of Kazan Seid Kul Sharif. The mosque was completely destroyed. For all four and a half centuries — up to the present day, the Tatar people did not lose hope and faith that Kul Sharif will be revived.

In the autumn of 1995, Mintimer Shaimiev (at that time the president of Tatarstan) signed the decree to reconstruct the mosque, which was decided to give the name of the legendary imam, poet and warrior — Seid Kul Sharif. In winter, the competition was held, which finally answered the question: what the mosque would be. In part, this was helped by... St. Basil's Cathedral, which was built by Ivan the Terrible in Moscow to commemorate the victory over the Kazan Khanate. Many historians are sure that impressed by the beauty of the lost mosque, the Russian tsar transferred much of its appearance to the Pokrovsky Cathedral.

The construction on the territory of the former cadet school was conducted 9 long years and was completed on 24 June 2005, just on the eve of the 1000th anniversary of Kazan. The eight minarets, symbolizing the largest centres of the Volga Bulgaria, again rose high.

The cost of the revival of the mosque is estimated at 400 million rubles, most of which — donations. Funds for the reconstruction of the temple were contributed by more than 40,000 citizens and organizations. What is more, it is not only residents of Tatarstan, and not all of them are Tatars and Muslims. Besides, people of different nationalities and religions worked at the construction site. Among the major benefactors — the companies of TAIF Group, from the first day involved in the work to return the main mosque to Kazan, the religious symbol of the Tatar nation, which has become a symbol of friendship and peaceful coexistence of different peoples and religions: in a few metres from the Kul Sharif, there is the Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation.

Today the Kazan Kremlin, and Kul Sharif Mosque along with it, are world heritage sites protected by UNESCO.

The island-town of Sviyazhsk

In July 2017, at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee held in Krakow, the Assumption Cathedral of the Holy Dormition Monastery, on the island-town of Sviyazhsk, was listed as a UNESCO monument. This event was preceded by a huge work of the Vozrozhdenie Republican Fund under the leadership of State Counselor of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev, with the support of the republican and federal budgets and benefactors, many of whom not only allocated funds for the restoration of historical sites but also actively participated in these works. TAIF Group has invested more than 190 million rubles in the reconstruction and renovation of the architectural ensemble of the first Orthodox city in the Middle Volga Region.

In July 2017, at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee, the Assumption Cathedral of the Holy Dormition Monastery, on the island-town of Sviyazhsk, was listed as a UNESCO monument. Photo: realnoevremya.ru

“TAIF is the group of companies which leaders and staff people do not forget, know and appreciate the history of their people. I should note that TAIF Group joined the project “Cultural Heritage of Tatarstan: the ancient city of Bolgar and the island-town of Sviyazhsk” one of the first in June 2010. The group of companies performed works mainly on the island–town of Sviyazhsk. Already in May 2011, at the expense of their own forces and funds, they restored the complex of buildings of state structures of the late 19th — early 20th centuries,” Mintimer Shaimiev told Realnoe Vremya in an interview.

TAIF Group invested more than 190 million rubles in the reconstruction and renovation of the architectural ensemble of the island-town of Sviyazhsk. Photo: realnoevremya.ru

The complex of state-owned facilities itself includes treasury, government agencies, jail, offices, hospital and banya. The reconstruction from the very beginning was planned for the subsequent creation of the exposition of the state historical and architectural art museum “The island-town of Sviyazhsk” on its territory. The work done was not just big — huge: eight buildings improper for restoration were dismantled, the roof structure, roof covering were replaced, intermediate floors, partition walls, beams, ceilings, double floors were reconstructed. It was necessary to strengthen the foundation, to tighten the walls. TAIF specialists restored the original appearance of the complex as a whole — with a system of closed courtyards, the destroyed areas of brick fences, gates were recreated. Almost from scratch, the arrangement of engineering networks and communications, landscaping of the complex were carried out. Also, the gas boiler room was mounted and put into operation, the installation of external heating main was made and heat was supplied to the museum. During the restoration, the historical sizes of the complex, floors and structures were preserved.

A huge number of archaeological finds were made on the island: silver and copper coins, bone products, clay vessels, tools and more formed the basis of the exhibition “The Mystery of the land of Sviyazhsk”, which unfolded in the main building of the complex. Fifty million rubles for the creation of this museum — the purchase and installation of a special exhibition and multimedia equipment, preparation of materials — were donated by TAIF PSC.

“For us, it was a unique chance to touch the priceless heritage of history, to contribute to the revival of the monument of history and architecture,” Director General of TAIF PSC Albert Shigabutdinov said at the opening ceremony of the museum.

Ancient Bolgar

TAIF Group undertook a large-scale task, together with Tatneft PJSC, on the territory of Ancient Bolgar as well. The land holy for every Muslim — the place where in the territory of modern Russia for the first time officially Islam was adopted as a state religion is very popular today. Hundreds of thousands of people come here every year to touch history. Creating comfortable conditions for guests is the most important task. The works on the construction of a five-star hotel, which was given the name of the great Bulgarian poet and thinker Kol Gali, started in April 2015.

“In order to see the Muslim shrine, people come from all over the country, and increasingly from abroad. It is almost impossible to see all the monuments and get acquainted with the history of ancient Bolgar in one day. Therefore, the creation of this hotel complex was dictated by time,” Mintimer Shaimiev said.

In 2018, the hotel opened its doors to guests. Those who have already appreciated the services of the only five-star hotel outside Kazan agree: it is a great combination of Oriental luxury and revived history. Decoration and highlight of the hotel was the bath complex “Dreams of Zuleykha” — an analogue of the Bulgarian White chamber of the 14th century.

The total investment of TAIF Group in the implementation of this project amounted to more than 2 billion 650 million rubles.

Comfortable rooms, swimming pools, SPA and other amenities, but also 25 hectares of territory, which at the expense of TAIF PSC and Tatneft PJSC were turned into cozy areas for hiking and cycling, sports, family recreation, are at the dispose for 300 guests (the hotel is designed for such a number of guests). It offers visitors a beautiful private beach and a transfer to the Ancient Bolgar, White Mosque — another pearl of the land, next to which there is the Islamic Academy, the investor in the construction of which was also TAIF Group, contributing half a billion rubles in the construction of the higher educational institution for Muslim spiritual leaders.

The Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God

On 4 November 2015, simultaneously with the signing of the decree on the establishment of the Bulgarian Islamic Academy, Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov signed a document on the reconstruction of the legendary Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. Vozrozhdenie Republican Fund announced the start of works and the fact that the main sponsor of the unique project was TAIF Group in early 2016. On 27 April, archaeological research began at the site of the future construction, and on 21 July 2016, on the day of the celebration of the appearance of the icon of the Blessed Virgin in the city of Kazan, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill consecrated the site of the restored temple.

In June 2018, crosses shone on the domes of the reconstructed cathedral. The main construction works have already been completed. TAIF Group invested 500 million rubles in them. But it’s a long way off until the consecration of the temple on the occasion of its opening. It is necessary to put one more layer of paint on the facade and to face the building basement with stone, to lay granite steps, to make a covering of porches, to establish entrance groups and to carry out a full complex of works on interior painting and decoration, to improve the adjacent territory.

According to Mintimer Shaimiev, participation in such projects for the preservation of cultural heritage is a worthy path to history. Representatives of investor companies, interacting with historians, archaeologists, restorers, learn the history of their native land. Their noble act itself becomes history because the names of investor companies and their leaders are immortalized on each restored object.

120 million rubles — for Pine Grove Park

Founded in 1945, Pine Grove Park (Sosnovaya Roscha) rejuvenated and modernized on its 70th anniversary by the efforts of the group of companies TAIF and Kazanorgsintez PJSC, which were the main investors of the renovation.

During the year 2015, a thorough analysis of the state of green spaces was carried out. The old, emergency, posing a threat to people walking in the park trees were demolished, and a thousand new ones were planted instead. For the convenience of visitors, new paths made of asphalt concrete and paving stones were laid, and the quality lighting was installed along them and sports grounds (there appeared street devices for physical exercises, a zone for sports warm-up, for workout, yoga), as well as two playgrounds, the area for quiet family recreation.

The thematic content of the park is original: the petrochemical giant designed it in the chemical style. From the first steps, visitors are greeted by elements of the periodic table. The founders of the Kazan chemical school were also not left aside — the plates, which display brief biographies of famous scientists — Dmitry Mendeleev, Nikolay Zinin, Alexander Butlerov, Alexander Arbuzov — are dedicated to them. Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov and Tatarstan President's assistant Natalia Fishman came to the opening of the park. Albert Shigabutdinov, the director general of TAIF JSC, told about the implemented work.

Today, after more than 4 years, the park, which has gained a second wind, is a popular recreation destination for local residents — especially young people and families with children — the future of Kazan and Tatarstan.

Improvement of Lebyazhye forest park

In August 2016, another major environmental and social project was launched: the renovation and improvement of Lebyazhye forest park. In fact, preliminary research work on the site was started in 2014, and in 2016 — the solemn laying of the symbolic stone and the launch of the renovation of the forest park zone and the lakes themselves. The ceremony was attended by President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov, State Counselor Mintimer Shaimiev, Chairman of Tatarstan State Council Farid Mukhametshin, on behalf of TAIF Group, acting as major investor in the works Director General of TAIF PSC Albert Shigabutdinov, and Director General of Kazanorgsintez PJSC Farid Minigulov.

“In general, this project is the restoration of those lakes and spaces that existed here. I am sincerely grateful to the designers, ecologists who are carrying out the design work, which still needs to be completed. I am grateful to TAIF PSC, Kazanorgsintez PJSC as part of TAIF Group, which are implementing the main part of this programme,” Minnikhanov said at the ceremony.

The hydrotechnical stage of restoration of the Lebyazhye lake system was completed in 2018. TAIF PSC and Kazanorgsintez PJSC invested in the implementation of the project almost 170 million rubles. The lakes were deepened, their bottoms ware dredged by a special three-layer screen, more than 1,5 million cubic metres of water were pumped into the reservoirs. Nature restoration works of this scale have not yet been carried out in modern Russia. As a result, the littoral zone of lakes has increased more than fourfold, and the beauty of this part of live nature has only increased. TAIF Group managed to do almost impossible: to return life to the complex of lakes, and to Kazan citizens — one of the favourite places of recreation.

60 million rubles — for the reconstruction of the Lemaev Square in Nizhnekamsk

In 2017, TAIF Group took an active part in the reconstruction of the square named after the first director of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC, Nikolay Lemaev. Part of the funds for the works was allocated from the regional budget, another 60 million was invested by TAIF.

Already in September, the opening of the transformed territory was attended by President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov. Even the rain did not stop the leader of Tatarstan during the walk.

The Square named after Nikolay Lemaev has always been one of the most popular places for walks in Nizhnekamsk. But over time, it became dilapidated and outdated. So it was until the autumn of 2017. Now the centre of the public space is decorated with the original form of a 3D fountain. And it's not just bubbling water: at night falling jets in combination with the smoke effect become a kind of screen, which broadcast laser installations. Special media pylons (there are 22 of them in the park), equipped with all-weather large-format screens, show visitors information about the petrochemical capital of the republic and Tatarstan as a whole, news, announcements and presentations. On the place where there was a non-working cascade fountain before, there is the unique children's playground Steps of Creativity, each platform is a level that has its own theme. Children appreciated the innovation. The playground is never empty.

There are green areas, high-quality street lighting, quiet areas where mothers with strollers or the elderly can sit on the square.

The square is popular at any time of the year. In winter, it is equipped with the New Year tree town, which has already won the title of the most photographed in Nizhnekamsk.

Present to Kazan from TAIF GC — square and slope next to Kazan NCC

The construction of underground parking began under the site next to Kazan NCC in 2016. So TAIF GC and Tatnefteprovodstroy PJSC, which became the contractor general of the project, replied to a complicated situation in the capital of Tatarstan with a deficit of parking lots in the city centre. In addition, TAIF and Tatnefteprovodstroy took on the mission of not only improving the square and territory from Kazan NCC to Fuchs Garden but also the slope looking out to the Kazanka River. The total beautified area was almost 31,000 square metres.

The area, which had been full of dozens of cars, is now a walking zone with bright lawns and an amphitheatre with a magnificent view on the Millennium Bridge, the Kazanka River and its right bank. Cars moved to the underground car park designed for almost a thousand cars. Only comparatively small parking areas for vehicles of people with disabilities and tourist buses remained outside.

The slope going down to the water, which used to be bumpy and overgrown with untidy shrubs and often littered with different waste, had to be cleared and levelled. In the end, 200 KAMAZ lorries disposed of the waste, while 6,000 lorries of soil were brought in. The slopes were covered with beautiful lawns with an area of 18,000 square metres. Automated watering systems were laid and connected. Asphalt was relaid on pedestrian paths crossing the slope.

The total cost of works on beautification of the slopes and square was over 157 million rubles, over 23 million were invested by Tatnefteprovodstroy PJSC, the rest was invested by TAIF. But these costs were worth it, Albert Shigabutdinov is convinced:

“It was very important for us to create not only a beautiful landscape but, first of all, a comfortable and cosy environment, so that people would come here with pleasure, enjoy walks, admire the enchanting panorama of our city,” he stressed in October 2018 during the opening of the updated public space.

All these projects are just a part of what TAIF JSC and the Group of Companies have already managed to do. Other, no less important projects are ahead. So in February 2019, at a meeting of the interdepartmental commission on urban development in historical settlements, the performance of global plans for beautification and revival of the riverbank zone from the already transformed Kazan NCC’s slope to the Millennium Bridge and from the Kirov Dam to the Lenin Dam was discussed. TAIF Group of Companies doesn’t plan to stay on the sidelines and intends to actively participate in the implementation of this project.

By Arseny Favstritsky

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