Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

Nomadic cities in the Arctic tundra

An architect has created a concept for the future of the Arctic

2 february 2023

Since mankind's first attempts to explore the Arctic, life beyond the Arctic Circle has been perceived as a dangerous and difficult fight with nature for new lands. And there is a reason for this—almost all cities beyond the Arctic Circle were erected with great effort. In the 21st century, the issue of Arctic development is still very much alive and well—the harsh climate and vast distances are slowing down economic development in the region. But in response to difficulties, new ideas are born. One of them is being developed by architect and inventor Vitaly Troshin who proposed the concept of nomadic cities.

Following the reindeer herders

Vitaly Troshin has been working in the Arctic for more than 30 years. In 1982, he became the chief architect of the Vorkuta branch of the Komigrazhdanproyekt Institute and then worked as the chief architect of the Komi Republic. In his long career as a man whose work was directly linked to urban development in the polar regions, he came to the radical conclusion that people need to move away from permanent settlements to embrace the experience of the nomadic peoples of the North if they want to fully develop the Arctic.

His magnum opus are self-powered, multi-purpose, self-propelled walking platforms that carry living structures and equipment. They can carry up to 100 tons of payload, travelling at around 4 km/h. Combined with the increased cross-country capability provided by the TT-2020 platform design, this speed is constant, whereas tracked and wheeled all-terrain vehicles often get stuck in the tundra. Vitaly Troshin suggests that up to 20 modifications of mobile objects—from a housing module to a drilling rig—could be created on the basis of his multi-purpose platform.

His mobile settlement doesn't need roads, as it paces using giant pneumatic struts. The platform easily crosses ravines up to 8 metres wide, can pass fords up to 4 metres deep and easily crosses bogs. It is also highly energy-efficient—transporting one TT-2021 drilling rig (modification of TT-2020) consumes 1,300 litres per 100 km while the conventional mode of transport requires around 10,000 litres over the same distance—which is how much 15 tractors, the standard 'team' for such transporting, will consume.

According to Vitaly Alekseyevich's idea, the armada of self-propelled platforms is able to reach any field much faster than all-terrain vehicles, bringing a complete settlement with necessary equipment on their backs. There would be no need to build roads and housing and then abandon them when the fossil resources are depleted.Источник:

According to the architect, who has spoken repeatedly in media interviews and during lectures, it is the nomadic way of developing the Arctic that will make it possible to use the region's natural resources efficiently, without wasting billions of roubles and man-hours on building new settlements.

Efficiency and ecology

The idea of walking platforms came to Vitaly Alekseyevich as a result of observing the life of nomadic peoples. In an interview for the Regions of Russia portal, he stressed that his invention will not only intensify the development of the Polar region's natural wealth but also preserve Arctic nature. The usual wheeled and tracked all-terrain vehicles destroy the topsoil in the tundra, which is only 5–10 cm. After these, the plants are often no longer able to recover. The pressure area of the TT-2020, on the other hand, is 120 g/cm2, which is equivalent to the impact exerted by a reindeer. After it, the flora will return to normal in a few months, like after the passing of a herd. The widespread use of self-propelled platforms will significantly reduce the amount of damage that humans do to the fragile ecosystem, Troshin believes.

Today, in addition to Russian experts, several African countries are interested in Vitaly Alekseyevich's ideas as they seek ways to develop their desert regions. Similar problems—the harsh climate, vast distances and fragile ecosystems—require a new approach. Last but not least, the estimated cost of the platform also plays a role. According to preliminary estimates, TT-2020 will cost between RUB 120 mn and RUB 390 mn. By comparison, the cost of rebuilding two bridges and lighting the roads in a single settlement near Norilsk is estimated to be about RUB 300 mn Meanwhile, self-propelled platforms can be used for many years and will not need to be left at the mercy of the winds and frost if the economic viability of such a settlement disappears. The timeline is about two years—one year for design and one year for production. However, Vitaly Alekseyevich is confident that in case serial production of the TT-2020 is organised, the time needed for their production will be significantly reduced.

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