Lavrenova Anastasiia

Many-faced Harbin is a Chinese city with a Russian past

In 2019, in terms of The Green Dot architecture competition, I was lucky enough to visit Harbin, one of China's northern cities. Harbin is a truly amazing place where different cultures are intertwined. This city, which was founded by Russian settlers in 1898, managed to preserve its Russian history, which at the same time successfully combines on the streets with its Chinese modernity.

I think at first you will not quite believe that this is all one city (moreover, all these photos were taken in one day within walking distance from the center). Harbin is very many-faced. Here, the austere classic buildings combine with more laid-back modern skyscrapers. Most of all, I admire by the passion of local residents to do sports everywhere. They are an integral part of all my shots.
Due to my limited time, unfortunately, I could not establish the exact ownership of certain buildings. For example, such a Disney castle suddenly formed on the horizon - maybe this is an entertainment complex, or maybe some kind of local "king" lives there.
It is also interesting that in Harbin, public toilets can be found almost everywhere, which is certainly convenient for tourists and has a positive effect on the mobility of elderly people in the city. Some of them are located in such buildings in the traditional style.
Russian cafes and shops in the city center, as well as duplicated street names on the central street in two languages - Russian and Chinese, remind of the historical kinship. There is a walking street Zhongyandatse (Central Avenue) in Harbin, but the Russians call it Arbat.
Opposite the St. Sophia Cathedral (there is no photo of it here, part of the facade was under restoration and hidden under the canvases) there is such an interesting miracle. At first it may seem that this is also a cathedral. But this beautiful "cathedral top" is built on top of some kind of administrative building, or a shopping center. Unusual!
During the trip, I was able to see the local architectural institute, which also made a strong impression on me. Each group of students was assigned their own room with workplaces . The photo captures the creative chaos (beautiful!) and an active design process in one of these rooms.
Another interesting thing concerns urban lighting. RGB color illumination is widely used here – both monuments, buildings, and pedestrian streets. Visually, for me, it creates a feeling of holiday all the time (like colorful lights on a Christmas tree).
Harbin is definitely a place worth visiting! If you are an architect or an urbanist, it will be insanely interesting for you to just hang around the streets. And for tourists there is a lot of entertainment and interesting places to visit (for example, an exhibition of ice figures, a local opera house and etc.).
Harbin at night