Do the New Legislative Regulations Solve Any Urban Planning Issues in Yerevan?
Over the past two decades, the large-scale construction works in the center of Yerevan city have caused serious urban development issues, including the demolition of old buildings of historic and cultural value, the density of new buildings within the surroundings of old residential buildings and addition of extensions, which also raise the problem of meeting seismic safety standards.

Today the Institute for War and Peace Reporting Armenia Branch in collaboration with the Public Journalism Club organized a discussion on these issues at the Media Center.

The speakers included: Mkrtich Minasyan, Chairman of the Union of Architects of Armenia, Sashur Kalashyan, honored architect, Head of Armproject architectural workshop, Armen Artonyan, Head of the Department of Buildings and Structures Seismic Resistance of the Seismic Protection Service of MES of the Republic of Armenia and Alexander Movsisyan, the Adviser to the Minister of Urban Development of RA.

"There is no place for more constructions as the center of Yerevan is extremely overbuilt. Due to haphazard construction works we have been deprived of historic buildings and on the other hand, we had urban desity occupying public green areas and taking every square meter of the city,” said Mkrtich Minasyan, the Chairman of the Union of Architects of Armenia.

According to National Statistical Service, the total surface of residential areas built in Yerevan in 2005-2015 amounts to more than 2 million 656 thousand square meters, which is sixfold larger than the indicator of newly independent Armenia, registered in the period of 1991-2004.

Minasyan added that newly constructed buildings are not dangerous in terms of seismic safety standards.

According to Sashur Kalashyan, the buildings, inherited from the Soviet period, do not meet current seismic requirements. These buildings were built to resist 7-magnitude earthquakes, whereas the standard has been changed, and the required standard has reached 9 or more points.

"During the years of independence widespread privatization process was carried out and basements of the buildings were sold, being used for public or other purposes, which caused great damage to the constructive system. The tendency to construct attics worsened the situation," noted Kalashyan.

The whole territory of Armenia is located in an active seismic zone and Yerevan is not an exception. According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, 80% of the 4800 high-rise buildings of the capital do not meet seismic safety requirements in Armenia.

Alexander Movsisian, the Adviser to the Minister of Urban Development, mentioned that they had calculated and found out that 30-31 billion dollars are needed to reinforce old buildings to comply them with the current standards.

“Moreover, there are 26 apartment buildings under the threat of collapse to be demolished and new ones built. And there are 458 buildings with inappropriate technical condition which should be strengthened to meet current requirements. 361 billion drams is required to eliminate the whole emergency fund. Serious financial investments should be done," said Movsisyan. He also admitted that the current constructions are often carried out with violations.

"Taking into account the fact that these violations are mainly taking place in the center, the Ministry has developed the law “on development of Yerevan downtown” which has already been submitted to the National Assembly. The law brings serious restrictions on constructions in order to prevent these violations,” he noted, adding that the Ministry of Urban Development wants to restore state institution of projects expertise. He told that the changes were also being made in the Law "On Apartment Buildings."

Armen Artonyan, Head of the Department of Buildings and Structures Seismic Resistance of the Seismic Protection Service of MES, told that it’s required to carry out investigations by visual and visual-instrumental methods, whereby the level of damage of the building would be estimated.

At the end of the discussion, the speakers unanimously stated that if new legislative regulations entered into force, and really worked and monitoring mechanisms got more strengthened and enlarged, the situation might possibly be changed for the positive.


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