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Jon Pearson (Telegraph Online)

Could Siberia be home to one of the world's most futuristic cities inside the Arctic Circle?

By The Siberian Times reporter
08 July 2012

Its residents will live in a vast man-made 'igloo' to protect them from polar temperatures and some of the most biting winds on the planet.

‘This project is designed to work on any surface, even on the Moon if needed’. Pictures: Valery Rzhevskiy

Named Umka after a popular Soviet-era cartoon polar bear cub, the city’s 5,000 residents will live under a vast dome to protect them from winter temperatures of well below -30C. Nicknamed ‘Wonder City’, it is designed for possible development at a cost of up to £4billion on the remote island of Kotelny, in the Novosibirsk archipelago, or the New Siberian Islands, approximately 1,000 miles or 1600 km from the North Pole.

The islands lie between the Latvev Sea and the East Siberian Sea off the north coast of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia).

Strong winds make it one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. Even in July the temperature barely climbs above freezing.

Umka city designs are based on the International space station


Umka city designs are based on the International space station


Umka city designs are based on the International space station

Designs are based on the International Space Station, but it is vast by comparison - just short of a mile long and 800 yards wide. Pictures: Valery Rzhevskiy


Architect Valery Rzhevskiy, who has shown the designs to President-elect Vladimir Putin, said: ‘This city will be of strategic importance as Russia’s northern outpost’.

Sources say it will house soldiers, border guards and secret service officers, as well as scientists and explorers, as Russia gets serious about its claims to Arctic mineral riches. All will enjoy a luxury lifestyle in the cocooned city, which will have its own specially regulated climate as well as a variety of other attractive features.

Mr Rzhevskiy stressed: ‘We aim to have laboratories, houses, but also parks, an Aqua complex, hotels and a cathedral. Naturally there will be schools, kindergartens, recreation zones, a hospital and sport facilities.'

It will be totally self-sufficient with fish and poultry farms, greenhouses, a wheat processing factory and bakeries.

‘We want people who will be living and working here not to realise they are in some closed space with an aggressive Arctic climate outside. So far it is the only project in the world with an artificial climate and integral life support, just like on the space station’, Mr Rzhevskiy said.

Strong winds make it one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. Even in July the temperature barely climbs above freezing.


Designs are based on the International Space Station, but it is vast by comparison - just short of a mile long and 800 yards wide


Designs are based on the International Space Station, but it is vast by comparison - just short of a mile long and 800 yards wide

'A new word in architecture and in human living'. Pictures: Valery Rzhevskiy


'There will not be any rubbish at Umka city at all, as the ice city will have two factories converting it into all kinds of ashes, Mr Rzhevskiy added.

It will house workers for mines and oil platforms which should pay the costs of the development, it is claimed.

‘This project is designed to work on any surface, even on the Moon if needed’, said Mr Rzhevskiy.

Although it has no fixed timetable for opening, the ice city plans come as all countries with territory touching Arctic waters are gearing up to submit competing demands to the United Nations for underwater mineral exploitation rights. 

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