Photo: Akademgorodok: Town of Science in Siberia. 1995.

What: A pedestrian-oriented, academic oasis in the midst of the vast Siberian taiga.

Why it Works: Despite the Siberian cold (and Soviet planners), Akademgorodok is a robust pedestrian community. The town is home to dozens of academic institutions and the University of Novosibirsk. What really sets this town apart from others, in terms of public spaces, is its network of well-used pedestrian paths. These trails are the sinewy arteries of this vibrant town. They are an organic part of the landscape. The wide streets are busy twice a day with cars and buses slipping and sliding along the ice. The trails, by contrast, are almost always buzzing with activity. The pedestrian paths also link the town with surrounding destinations: the beach at the Ob Sea, the woods (for berry picking and mushroom gathering), and even nearby villages. Another neat aspect of the trails is that, since there are so many, you can choose from the many different ways to get from point A to point B. Stores, houses, offices and playgrounds are scattered in places, clustered in others, but they are all within walking distance. The paths are not where you plan to meet, they are the places where you run into familiar people by happenstance, which makes meeting friendly faces all the more enjoyable.

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GREAT PUBLIC SPACES: Akademgorodok, Siberia (Russia) was last modified: March 25th, 2014 by Tom Peyton