Architect Burák: Volvo will change Košice as an iron factory, but the city is not ready.

Just as Východoslovaké železierna has determined the image of Košice since the seventies, it will also be changed by the arrival of the Swedish car manufacturer Volvo.
However, Košice is not ready, they have a spatial plan from half a century ago. It will change the lives of the people of Košice, the city will expand and we will face huge traffic jams, architect MICHAL BURÁK expects. However, he believes that the arrival of hundreds of foreign managers will enrich the city and it has a chance for change.
He claims that Košice, due to its unpreparedness, will develop exactly the opposite of what they declare. Instead of thickening, they will expand outward. When the answers to the question of housing are not available today, investment construction cannot be implemented from tomorrow, he says of the town hall's plan for thousands of new apartments. According to Burák, today Košice does not know where and how it will develop, the Office of the Chief Architect has no visions, only official visions.
The increase in the price of building materials has stopped the construction of family houses, but they are already a nightmare for the architect. He says they start with enthusiasm, end with frustration.

Volvo is heading to Košice, how is the city prepared for the arrival of a large investor?
That's what I'm asking too. The basis of such
of city development is a strategic document and
territorial plan. The city has it, but it's from the seventies
years. Whether this territorial
the plan responds to such a large investment,
I don't know, it's a question mark.

Apparently unresponsive since it's decades old.
The arrival of an investor means a lot
onslaught. But it's a good thing, he would say
I am about the arrival of VSŽ in Košice. Today's
housing estates such as Furča, Řahanovce or Jazero
they are the result of industrialization at the time.
But from today's point of view, it is not
a great victory. Arrival of a new investor
maybe not until the new millennium
so large considering the number of employees,
but it will be big. It will mean
Košice 2. There is a need to develop areas
for housing, social facilities, healthcare
facilities, sports grounds, but
mainly transport.

VSŽ was looked down upon, we were a steel town. The automotive industry is seen as an assembly shop. Is the arrival of an investor like Volvo good news even for those residents of Košice who will not work there?
It will definitely change the movement in the city.
The downside is that development will probably happen
outward from the center where
they will form huge traffic jams. Big
however, the plus side is that hundreds will come to the city
foreign managers and workers,
who the city culturally and linguistically
enrich. This will generate demand for culture as well
or stomach.
This will bring with it more investors,
who one day can change
assembly workshop for more sophisticated
the city. But this cycle has to start
arduous work to gradually
could transform to a job with a higher
On the other hand, it must be said that
Volvo will probably not be purely an assembly workshop,
the production of electric cars is concerning
assembly, another level. It's not about casting anymore
steel in a space suit. I think it's a big one
a chance for the city to transform.

Will an ordinary Košić fare better?
I am looking forward.

As architects, you will probably have a lot of work.
On the one hand, a lot of work, but this region needs to speak another language. Without foreign investors, it will still be only here
local market.

With the new factory will also come new employees who have to live somewhere. Mayor Jaroslav Polaček communicates that up to 25,000 new apartments may be built in Košice in the future. Where can these apartments even be built?
When we look at the skyline
city, so we find out that it is not in Košice
no crane. Or we would find maybe
one. The number of cranes also tells whether
the city is alive. If I have to compare it, v
In Bratislava, it's crane after crane, construction
the activity there is enormous. And she already is
the result of the designer's activity, when
begins to move into the implementation phase. Not
I'm not sure if we have it on the table at the moment
as architects of orders in the volume of thousands
apartments. I rather think not. If them
we don't have the handling process on the table now
the permit will take a minimum
two years. That means it's probably not real,
to see thousands here in two or three years
new apartments.

You mentioned Košice 2. With the arrival of a large investor, the city must somehow swell in order to have somewhere to place institutions and service. Do you see any of that in the new town center that has been languishing for a decade? The town hall wants to concentrate housing, offices and services behind the Hornád station. Do you also look optimistically at this vision of the city?
I wish I could be that optimist.
But it is a horizon of at least 20 years.
We have not settled in this territory
plots of land. They are lengthy processes that
they cannot be set in the short term either
in the medium term. It's a vision
great, but I don't know if it will help the arrival
an investor like Volvo. The onslaught here will be a
the answers to where to live will not be here.
What will happen is that the development of Košice will evolve
otherwise than the city would like. It declares
that he wants to thicken the structures of Košice.
But instead, it will be accurate
the opposite, namely that the city will expand
towards the outside. This cannot be prevented when
the city is not ready today. When those
there are no more answers to the question of housing
today, investment construction cannot be implemented
from tomorrow.

If the city has committed to Volvo that there will be apartments, can it only rely on private investors for this?
It will all be about private investors.
But the city is not able to today
to provide prepared territories, that is
territories that are in the territorial
plans intended for construction, and territories,
which have issued authorization processes.
If he doesn't have it, neither do private investors
space where construction is to be carried out.
If the city does not have a vision in advance, it will not be
the position of leader, but he will pull the short end of the stick.
He will have to rely on that
one day he'll have to tap anything
to meet the expected numbers.

What could be the solution to the problems with insufficient planning and structuring of the city? Shouldn't it be a metropolitan institute like in Bratislava, which would cover uniform development?
We are trying to have something like that here.
In Bratislava, they also have a Department of Chief Architect,
also the metropolitan institute which
but they do not compete with each other. They have set rules
and scope, chief architect
writes the statutes ska and statements to
spatial plan and the institute generates
visions and plans for the future, as it will be in advance
prepare the territory. Office of the Chief
the architect is only checked for compliance,
it does not have the capacity to generate vision as it does
we really need that. Actually, we don't at all
we don't have an answer to where and how it will happen
to develop the city. For example, we only know
that there will be something on some patch, but
we have not resolved the territorial plans of the zones
or more detailed documentation.

A frequent complaint of investors and developers is that the city as such puts obstacles in the development of Košice. How do you feel about it in your studio, does it hold the city back or is it helpful?
It's a wider issue they're dealing with
also in other cities. When we look
to cities beyond our borders, they are
there vast territories prepared in advance
the city itself. It means,
that nets are brought to the territory which
are also to be developed for private investors.
The city is literally preparing a developable one
soil. In such a way here,
we do not work in the whole of Slovakia either.
The reason, in my opinion, is that the market and development here
stagnated for a long time. It is self-government
he cannot afford to risk preparing
an industrial park where no one comes.

What do you think of the winning architectural design of the New City Center?
I like it very much, it is very
a distinctive urbanistic gesture. But also
maybe a little bold, it's a long line
block structure. It looks like it in the pictures
fantastic, but I'm afraid it won't
is perhaps more than necessary for this city.
Integral connection of the river to
the city center is absolutely essential,
Košice basically has no river,
I don't notice any Hornád here at all
flowed. The city was decimated by industry,
railway transshipments
tracks and the Hornád shifter to accommodate it
industry. When one day
the next generations will live to be
to have a river that will be an integral part
city, it will be a victory.

A bolder version talks about restoring Hornád on Štefániková street. We probably can't imagine it today, but is it impossible that water will ever return to the center of Košice?
As architects, we came up with the initiative,
to draw the water to the front
railway station, but this was not at all understood. There are cities where that
is not excluded. As we grow,
they are almost unimaginable things. But
when it was managed under socialism
such a huge and futuristic transformation,
that they were able to move the whole in this region
flow and convert it at that time to
a four-lane road that generated demand
after new and new cars and automotive
industry, so I believe that
one day we can return the river there
where she was originally. It just needs to be equally revolutionary
visions as then. She was on the first one then
instead of industrialization, today it is
rather about ecology and the fight against climate change
I will change. They are equally revolutionary challenges.

Two years ago, you designed the form of the Slovak pavilion at the EXPO in Dubai. It was supposed to be your life's order, in the end we didn't have the pavilion. Why?
The stumbling block was impotence
organizational team in Slovak
side. Even much smaller countries exhibit
in our own pavilions, we don't
we are capable. We don't even have the money to do it,
neither culturally, nor mentally. We
let's rent a shed for us
enough. It's a total failure.

At last year's Architecture Biennale in Venice, the Czechoslovak Pavilion was closed again. Isn't it such a Slovak trend that we are not able to represent ourselves?
It's a sad state of affairs. He was in Venice
technical problem on the construction site. But how
could this be the problem? We in Slovakia
we complicate our own processes
more than anywhere else in the world. We are not
able normally, in real time, qualitatively
to procure publicly. We throw logs at each other
under the feet. How is it possible that Hungary,
The Czech Republic or Poland can do the same
of European funds to build such things as
are they building? We go completely below average,
the cheapest is enough for us. We accept
mediocrity as the standard. Above standard
there is something that is not right for us
it is for the chosen ones.

A decade ago, you were behind the City Interventions initiative, when Košice was striving for the title of European Capital of Culture. The project brought many nice visualizations,
but what did you get out of it?

They are the most tangible result
probably green tram lines. I remember
si that there were several proposals that they were dealing with
green tram lines as there are in the world
ordinary. During the discussion in the city, we discovered
that they already had track revitalization projects, but
greens were not considered. We suggested to them
to supplement them, in some places
however, they only used plastic carpets.
But at least the entire Kuzmány Street is
green. Yes, a living carpet needs to be cared for,
compared to plastic carpets, though
not a big visual difference, but a climatic one

Which project do you regret that it didn't happen?
We had one heart under the bridge
on Moskovska on the KVP estate. He was
basically a space for the homeless,
we wanted to give it year-round use,
to build a cultural and sports center.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out. But we had
paradoxically great response from the world that it is
that excellent thing.

You got some architectural ones prices, but mostly for the transformation of the Važecká exchanger. How do you explain that the converted interchange into a cultural center was a success. Is it thanks to the reuse approach?
It is like a diamond that is a contrast
opposite the environment of the housing estate. Interesting
is that the contrast was not destroyed.
Ten years have passed and the object has not been sprayed,
it is not destroyed and is still the same
nice and used as in the beginning. Continue
at the same time, he lives a community life.
He was accepted, otherwise the vandals would have chopped him up a long time ago
to pieces.

You were also present during the transformation of Košice as a city of culture in 2013. At that time, many buildings were also renovated. How has it changed the city?
The capital of culture is one of
of key projects that started it here.
It is an absolute must to stay in Košice
something like that happened. I am very happy
that we have a revitalized City Park.
Personally, I'm not a supporter of that
it is fenced. Today, however, it is a safe space,
where I'm not afraid to call anyone
foreign visit. Although there are many things
which should not be there.

You are probably talking about an apartment house that bypassed the spatial plan and the former chief architect of Košice, the former speaker of the parliament, local businessmen, but also architects moved in there.
I don't notice the apartments in the middle of the park
from an architectural point of view
negative, it is an interesting building. The most controversial
I don't even see the contact
buildings and park, but rather buildings and
swimming pools. I feel like you're there
apartment residents could go after eight o'clock
swim with your own key. It is
their private swimming pool or the municipal one
swimming pool? Split with the territorial plan
is also inescapable when we see
as creatively as possible
spatial plan to explain. When something is not
strictly regulated in the spatial plan,
there is a lot of room for creativity. But
in Košice we also have more controversial ones

Which ones specifically?
For me it's housing estates. You really do
I hate it. The problem is that they are torn
from the center, they are not connected to
urban structures. They are monoblocs of monofunctional
uses where there is no greenery,
nor a normal public space. I am
grew up in Furča, I still remember
childhood photo with grandparents. For
nami is Furča, which looks like something catastrophic.
We arrived at a brand new housing estate,
which was already completely broken,
fallen plaster on the garages, a mess everywhere.
For all my childhood there
not even trees could grow.

What would you advise a customer who is deciding where to live? Would you recommend him to go to an apartment in a housing estate or to buy a plot of land on which he can build a more energy-efficient house?
A housing estate like I mentioned, I would
he didn't recommend it to anyone (laughs). It's the last one
a destination where one should go
to move in. Unfortunately, the trend is to go out,
i.e. the Košice-surrounding location. From ecological
point of view it is of course better to live in
city, one saves a lot on commuting.
An ordinary citizen with some budget, however
he often has no choice but to go out. He's going
rather out to a new one, where he will have more
also the garden and the number of rooms he will set up.
In time he might return to the city, find
that children should be carried on rings, and it stops
he enjoys the endless city-village circulation.
Free time for the parent is thus lost,
makes a driver.

How did the significant increase in the prices of building materials affect business and construction?
It waved and it hurt enormously.
Prices went up like crazy,
components such as wood or steel
increased in price by three to five hundred percent. Now
fortunately, the situation stabilized.

Did it also wave with the planned projects?
Development projects were not affected much,
these are planned for the long term, but
it shut down family houses completely.

For the family house, you won the CE.ZA.AR award in the past. Is it your favorite thing to do when someone comes up wanting a cool hipster house?
No, I don't even want to build houses anymore.
It's the worst, they eat up the most energy and
it usually ends in frustration. At the beginning
every cool hipster wants a house and
enthusiasm is felt on both sides.
Maintaining a budget is difficult for everyone
the costs only increase by the day. Clients
they often have to compromise or
finish it yourself. The result then
it's not worth it.

Author: Jana Ogurčáková and Laura Heighes
Source: Denník Korzár – SME