Grodno’s ancient buildings to definitely gain new purpose
The most dynamic branch of the Belarusian economy is gaining new impetus: next year, a High-Tech Park will open in Grodno
Grodno HTP’s offices
Yuri Voityukevich, the Deputy Head of the Innovative Entrepreneurship Support Department for the High-Tech Park’s Administration, explains why Grodno has been chosen to host the expanding information technology space. He tells us, “Several factors are ideally met there.” Importantly, the project has received support from city and regional authorities. In addition, buildings for the future Park need to be state owned and located conveniently and close by one another: to create the necessary space and environment to promote the work of IT specialists. Importantly, the venue should be situated in the centre and be well accessible for young people.
Taking all these requirements into consideration, the complex of former border guard buildings has been chosen, being located near Tyzengauz Square, Shveitsarskaya Dolina (Swiss Valley) and Zhiliber Park.
Svetlana Gerasimenko, the chief architect of the project from Grodnograzhdanproekt Institute, knows the history of the complex best of all. Her young team developed documentation for the complex’s reconstruction and, as Svetlana admits, it was an interesting task: to redesign old buildings for new purposes.
Having been constructed in 1906 as a military hospital, the building was later used to house a border guard detachment. Its present appearance will remain unchanged, although the interiors will undergo significant updates, creating rooms for Park staff to meet, chat and work. Administrative buildings, educational centres, cafes and recreation zones are also planned.
If an idea receives support within the co-working centre, its authors then move to a business incubator (housed by the former hospital building and comprising rooms able to seat up to five people comfortably). Upon progressing, businesses move to larger rooms… and so on.
Minsk’s High-Tech Park already works in this way, explains Mr. Voityukevich, saying, “We should create conditions to allow businesses to reach the level of residents in the shortest possible time (on the basis of our products and with our help) — to benefit society and the state.”
The buildings currently occupied by Minsk’s High-Tech Park are state run, and Grodno will be the same. In addition to taxes, the state budget will receive rental payments from Park residents. Minsk has seen the benefit of business investment into city development. Grodno will gain help in preserving its old buildings, while looking ahead, at city development.
By Victor Ponomarev