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City by the Sea with an Ocean of Opportunities

By Tatyana Hendel

What would Mariupol be like if the war hadn’t disrupted the plans? 

“These were just our hopes and dreams, and now everyone has seen them come true. And now we are confident that the city can handle the most modern and ambitious projects…” These words of Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko open the document on the city’s development strategy until 2030. The war crossed out its implementation. It concerned education and culture, youth policy, health care, ecology, and the development of the transport network.

What did Mariupol dream about?

In 2017, we adopted the first real Development Strategy until 2021 in our city’s history. It became the starting point for the changes that have taken place over the past five years. The main vectors that we included in this document were communal services and municipal services. They were to become the foundation that forms the comfort of life. We turned the key and opened the door to a comfortable future for every resident of Mariupol.

Now is the time to set new goals. We have reached a point where we can start a new discussion about possibilities. Together we have developed a road map for the next 10 years. We face even more ambitious challenges and a great mission – to become a city of Ukrainian miracle.

We had hopes and dreams, and now everyone has seen them come true. And now we are confident that the city can handle the most modern and ambitious projects. The new strategy consists of 14 directions with more than 100 target indicators. This is a voluminous document with deep meanings. The central focus of the Strategy remains unchanged – people. Everyone must have the opportunity to fulfill their potential in their hometown. So that everyone has opportunities for development, a comfortable life and options for leisure.

We spent 1.5 years developing this document together with the community. Students, the public, experts, specialists in various fields contributed to the formation of the city’s vision. One goal united us: we want to shape Mariupol’s future. Together, we have identified key growth points that will allow us to become the development flagship. This document contains not only numbers – it contains pieces of the heart and soul of the people of Mariupol, it reflects our love for our native city and our common pride, determination and faith in our strength.

The sea is our symbol and the biggest tourist magnet. We are forming a vision of our future coast with international experts. We are fully modernizing the Left Bank, the Central Bank and the Sand Beach. This will be the reset point for Mariupol. The city should look at the sea, be filled with its energy, and see a new horizon every day. We will continue to create a comfortable environment: with updated parks, beaches and affordable housing. We are supporting new universities that provide European quality education. We will develop the IT sector, where more and more young people find their calling. We activate new points of economic growth. We will continue to systematically improve our citizens’ comfort and quality of life.

We are open to cooperation and thank every partner who joined us and helps implement strategically important projects for the city. We will also welcome new friends and partners.

I am sure that the 2030 strategy will become a reality. We are all united by one desire – to make Mariupol comfortable for life. To turn our city into a source of inspiration for all of Ukraine. After all, Mariupol is a city by the sea with an ocean of opportunities.



Vadim Boychenko

An amusement park was going to appear in the city, the document mentions it by the name “Mariupol Disneyland”. They also planned to build “the coolest water park in Ukraine with its unique idea and philosophy” there. It would not only be a place for amusement but also introduce the visitors to the city’s history and legends.


Directions of city development

18. Construction of an amusement park. An amusement park will become a Mariupol “Disneyland”. It will be a fabulous place where visitors of all ages will briefly return to their childhood and experience pleasant nostalgia. The design of attractions may take after the sea creatures inhabiting the Sea of ​​Azov, making the park unique.

19. Construction of a water park. Mariupol set itself the goal of creating the coolest water park in Ukraine with its own, unique idea and philosophy. The water park will not only entertain guests but also introduce them to local legends and the history of the city. The entertainment complex will include 4 swimming pools, 13 water slides, a restaurant, a SPA center, a night stage for events, and an amusement park with 24 attractions for the whole family. The water park design will begin after the Central and Right Bank embankments in Mariupol.

They also outlined the plans to reconstruct one of the city’s main streets, Bohdan Khmelnytskyi Boulevard. It would become a cozy, comfortable area for walking and cycling, doing sports and yoga.

“We will build children’s, basketball and volleyball courts, a mini-football field, a skate park, and a sledding hill on the boulevard. There will be places for table tennis, chess, dominoes, and badminton. The renewed boulevard will stimulate everyone, young and old, to lead a physically active lifestyle. For those who want to be in a quiet environment, a rest area has been devised, where you can chat, read or admire the beauty of the city landscape,” says the document. We have the Strategy text here in the editorial office of the Green Portal, but is not publicly available anymore since active hostilities started, for security reasons.


Directions of city development

Key projects


The working group in the field of “Education” has prepared several projects, the implementation of which will contribute to the innovative development of the city’s education system. These projects consider the decentralization and reform of the educational sector, ensuring the quality level of providing educational services, schooling and comprehensive development of a competitive personality.

1. Creation of the “Science Museum” will expand and strengthen partnership cooperation between schools and institutions of professional and higher education. It will contribute to the popularization of STEM professions.

2. Creation of the Mariupol Small Academy of Sciences. This will make it possible to modernize the city’s out-of-school education system by creating new structural subdivisions of the National Academy of Sciences: a school of intensive intellectual training, an academy for student youth, a STEM laboratory, and a business incubator.

4. Creation of the first IT school in the city: revision of the educational process, teaching staff, modern innovation space.

6. Creation of a “Kitchen Factory”, which will organize high-quality, safe food for children, preserve all the useful properties of products, and ensure the implementation of control over compliance with sanitary and hygienic standards.

7. Career elevators – this will give students a chance to take an independent step in building their career in education, gain useful and practical experience and necessary knowledge, and then choose higher education and a profession.

8. Reconstruction of kindergartens. Creating a modern educational space for pupils and parents.

Monitoring indicators

1The percentage of users of public school facilities that feed the pupils on site%6065707580
2The number of teachers who have successfully passed state certification to confirm a high level of professional skillsunit510152025

They were going to open the Mariupol Small Academy of Sciences and the first IT school in the city. This would make modernizing the city’s out-of-school education system possible and stimulate the development of a modern innovative space.

They also paid ecology considerable attention. In particular, continuous ecological monitoring was carried out in the city. Mobile laboratory “Atmosphere” began working for the population to have quick access to the results of monitoring on environmental pollution in the city.


Directions of city development

Urban design and road and transport infrastructure

Strategic goals

Strategic goalOperational goalPrograms
A comfortable city facing the city1.1 The city develops towards its embankments1.1.1 Reconstruction of the embankment in Livoberezhnyi district
1.1.2 Reconstruction of Meotydy str and Mosrkyi blvd
1.2 The city reconstructs its embankments and beaches1.2.1 Reconstruction of the beach premises on Velyka Morska str in Prymorskyi district
1.3 Ukrzaliznytsia’a infrastructure does not cut the city off the sea1.3.1 Reconstruction of the embankment in Tsentralnyi district
1.3.2 Reconstruction of the Michman Pavlov square in Primorskyi district
The city preserves its unique nature and history2.1 The city preserves authentic historical buildings and delicately develops them2.1.1 Reconstruction of houses with a spire.
2.1.2 Reconstruction of the buildings recommended for granting the status of historical heritage.
2.2 The city unites existing parks and squares, embankments into a single green framework2.2.1 Reconstruction of Bohdan Khmelnystkyi blvd
2.2.2 Building of the recreation and entertainment park on Primorskyi blvd in Primorskyi district
2.2.3 Reconstruction of the Yuvileinyi park named after Hurov 
2.3 The city revitalizes degraded areas in the central areas of the city (industrial, communal, residential)2.3.1 Сapital repair of Architect Nielsen street
2.3.2 Reconstruction of the “Yakir” alley
2.4 The city creates comfortable recreation areas in the attached settlements2.4.1 Creation of cozy squares and recreation areas in the attached settlements
The city of sustainable mobility3.1.1 Building of new traffic lights in hazardous road areas
3.3 The city of comfortable, reliable public transport, a multimodal city with convenient transits3.3.1 Implementation of the automated payment and travel control system
3.3.2 Increasing residents’ transport awareness (electronic scoreboards)
3.3.3 Creation of MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) routes with high capacity.
3.3.4 Increase and renewal of rolling stock
3.3.5 Increasing the share of electric transport
3.3.6 Carrying out repairs of electric transport infrastructure
3.4 A seaside city with water transport3.4.1 Creation of infrastructure – sea berths
3.4.2 Creation of public transport routes along the Azov coast
3.5 Development of external logistics3.5.1 Restoration of air traffic through the construction of an airport
3.5.2 Reduction of the transit time of the Mariupol-Kyiv train to 10 hours
3.6 Reconstructed road infrastructure3.6.1 Capital repair of the artificial structures (bridges, overpasses, flyovers)
4.1 Presumption of openness: minimal obstacles, free access to institutions4.1.1 Capital repair of the territory of the hospital premises on Myru prospect, 80.
4.2.1 Control of construction projects and objects for compliance with building regulations and standards for inclusiveness and barrier-free accessibility
4.2.2 Construction of centers for the provision of administrative and social services in the Tsentralnyi and Kalmiuskyi districts.

The city also developed a project to modernize its outdoor lighting. They planned to replace old devices with energy-efficient LED bulbs to save electricity by up to 50% by 2025.

Reconstruction of the biological sewage treatment system was supposed to prevent pollution of the Sea of ​​Azov. Rainwater would be collected and reused, for example, for watering the city’s flowerbeds.

“I presented the project, and the next day we woke up to a rocket attack at four o’clock in the morning.”

In the first photo, Albertas Tamashauskas, an employee of the city council of the Mariupol transport department, presents a part of the project dedicated to the city’s bicycle transport concept. On the second, participants work on a potential map of bicycle routes.

The workshop lasted until late on February 23, 2022, and on February 24, the war began.

The Green Portal contacted Albertas and talked about what a modern city should look like and what the future may await Mariupol, which will need to be rebuilt from scratch.

“Just before the invasion, we adopted a city development strategy, within its framework we saw a city of sustainable mobility; with accessibility in all districts, self-sufficient, with a fully developed bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. We wanted to transform Mariupol from a car-centric city into a city for people.

But the war destroyed the city, and now we are waiting for liberation.

On February 23, we presented the strategy concept to the cycling community, we showed our draft maps, and also held a workshop to confirm or refute the ideas proposed by our department. We wanted to compare what we agree on, what people like and don’t, to minimize mistakes and create a new bicycle transport network with maximum benefit for the citizens.

“I presented the project, and the next day we woke up to a rocket attack at four o’clock in the morning. They hit the airport ten kilometers from my house. From that moment, our blockade life began,” Albertas recalls.


Fig. 1 Current pyramid of transport mobility (Strategy 2030)

Private transport

Commercial transport

Public transport



Fig. 2 Target pyramid of transport mobility (Strategy 2030)



Public transport

Commercial transport

Private transport

Getting around on foot or by bicycle is an invariable part of the transport system

An essential component of urban design is the transport and logistics system development. As we see from the examples of cities that lead the comfortable living charts, public spaces with a concentration of various activities must develop around the transport axes and nodes outside the historical centre.

The most efficient modes of transport, namely trams, trolleybuses and buses, should be prioritized in modern cities. At the same time, getting around on foot or by bicycle should be an invariable component of the transport system.

“Mariupol already had the best transport system in Ukraine: trolleybuses, trams and buses of high and increased capacity already carried out more than 90% of transportation.

We worked on developing the bicycle infrastructure together with the cycling community. We launched two polls asking people how interested they are in cycling as a mode of transportation and what key points are essential to them. We drew draft routes to understand where from and where to people are travelling to establish movement priorities,” says Albertas.

In Mariupol, the level of motorization and the road network load increased yearly. This resulted in a chaotic arrangement of parking lots; cars were left on the roads and sidewalks. There was a need to streamline and organize parking spaces and create conditions for reducing loads on the city’s streets and road network.

The development of road infrastructure, considering bicycle and pedestrian mobility, would allow implementing the principles of “15-20 minutes” distance to all necessary infrastructure facilities and reduce the use of private cars.




2.4. Data analysis of the city’s transport model

According to the research performed by the A+C company that interviewed 4,760 residents of the city during the development of the transport model of the city of Mariupol, the share of movements by bicycle in the total amount is 0.8%

The level of cycling is 75 units per 1,000 inhabitants; in turn, the level of motorization reaches 134 cars per the same number of inhabitants.

Picture 1 (bottom left)

Actual movements of cyclists

75 bicycles per 1,000 inhabitants

134 cars per 1,000 inhabitants

Legend (Quantity of movements between transport districts)

Yellow 1-2

Orange 3-4

Red 5-6

Dark red 7-8

Picture 2 (top right)

Potential movements of cyclists

The scheme of potential movements of cyclists reflects which areas of the city connect those movements, which would be possible with appropriate infrastructure. The key types of bicycle trips are:

  • Tourist routes (sea coast, parks, recreation areas).
  • The need to go to work/on business.
  • Leisure time.

Picture 3 (bottom right)

Movements under seven kilometers

Potential movements up to 7 km. There is an apparent increase in potential bicycle movements in the Tsentralnyi – Primorskyi, Tsentralnyi – Kalmiuskyi districts of the city and intra-district movements in Livoberezhnyi and Kalmiuskyi districts.

In an optimistic scenario, with a safe and convenient bicycle transport infrastructure, the share of cyclists can increase to 10%

“It is unclear how people will move around.”

“My neighbourhood was utterly destroyed. Two blocks of flats are gone in the house where I lived with my wife before the war. We lived in the westernmost point of the city, and in the first days, we thought it was a fairly safe place, but then the town was surrounded and practically destroyed.

We dream of all the occupation troops disappearing from here or being destroyed because we did not want them here. Then we want to develop the city according to our strategy. But since there is little left of the city now, it will be necessary to rebuild everything from scratch.

Therefore, based on the new reality, it is necessary to understand how many residents will live in the city, and with this information, to form new plans. Even though this sounds cynical, cycling is now the city’s dominant transportation mode because transport and roads are destroyed. I travelled by bicycle during the blockade.

We tried to analyze the possible further developments, but it is impossible without an on-the-spot assessment. To form a transport network, you need to understand the points of attraction. Since now everything is destroyed, it is unclear how people will move around,” says Albertas.

In our pre-war strategy, we planned to reduce the share of bus transportation to 20% by 2025 so that 80% of residents would travel by electric transport. The city authorities wanted to expand the trolleybus network so that transport would connect the remote areas.

We need to put the concept of suburb to sleep.

Urban design suggests the planning and developing of the urban space as a network of convenient, self-sufficient districts with independent life support systems. This should be an organically connected barrier-free space with a developed infrastructure network as a single organism.

“Our typical suburb is a child of industrialization and a modernist approach to the territory. Transport appeared, and now it was convenient to take people to work from a specific point of residence. The suburb is a kind of human factory and is sometimes jokingly called a human “ant colony”. There is one place where you work, another – where you sleep, and a way of getting from one to the other. We must put this concept to sleep.

In my subjective opinion, restoring old Soviet panel buildings makes no sense at all. It is necessary to form self-sufficient quarters. Instead of ten destroyed high-rises, build an interconnected neighbourhood with a multifunctional structure. This neighbourhood should host businesses, housing, and a cafe – everything necessary for life should coexist as a system in one place.

In the context of Mariupol, this is still up in the air. Because until the end of the war, we do not understand what we will end up with. As far as I know, the whole transport network – trolleybus and tram – has now been destroyed. Therefore, at the first stages, the transport will be limited to buses, bicycles and pedestrian traffic”, – believes Albertas.


Examples of social advertising developed by the creative agency TABASCO together with the cycling marathon “Kyivska Sotka”

Picture 1 (top left)

  • Take it easy!

Your doors are dangerous.

We’re sharing the road.

Picture 2 (top right)

  • Hey, driver!

Keep your distance, please.

We’re sharing the road.

Picture 3 (bottom left)

We be of one road, ye and I.

Let’s respect each other.

Picture 4 (bottom right)

City light says: 

“We be of one road, ye and I.

Let’s respect each other.”

“Azovstal”: from a metallurgical plant into a memorial

Many people worked at the Azovstal enterprises and the Ilyich metallurgical plant before the war. It’s important because these two enterprises were significant focal points for passenger traffic. At the time, traffic was adjusted to the shift schedule of people working at these factories.

“After the war, such points will most likely be absent for some time. Perhaps the “Azovstal” plant will have a second life. For example, it could become a memorial. My colleagues and I have already discussed that there is an example, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain). Of course, its history is not as tragic, but we can draw many analogies. It is also located “on an island” and surrounded by a river. Perhaps this territory will become the new centre of the city. There are many options. And production can be moved outside the city. The Ilyich plant is located in the northern part of the city and, in my opinion, it is more logical to place two enterprises next to each other outside the city and give the centre to the people.

It is unclear how educational institutions, hospitals and state institutions will factor in the traffic because all these objects have also been destroyed. Only one school and one hospital still stand. There are too many variables, so it’s a guessing game now. We may plan anything, but we will have to figure it out only after the war”, – believes Albertas.

From scratch


The vision of Mariupol: Sea city with an ocean of opportunities

The mission of Mariupol: To be a showcase of the restored Ukrainian Donbass, to become a city of Ukrainian miracle

Mariupol is a city of solid steel and gentle sea, modern technologies and green spaces, cold years of experience and hot young inspiration. The sea and industry are integral parts of Mariupol’s unique identity. We are proud of our sea – the warmest and unlike any other body of water. We’re proud of our port and mighty metallurgical plants, with which Mariupol grew from a small town into a large industrial centre. Therefore, the sea and the development opportunities are the main components of the Strategy’s vision.

Mariupol extends towards the sea. We preserve and modernize industry but strengthen the logistical attractiveness and capacity of the local port. We are building tourist infrastructure and a new economy near the sea – embankments and beaches, an industrial park and new economic clusters. Reconstructed streets and avenues, parks and boulevards, modern transport and a cable car, will lead people to the sea. New opportunities will be created for the development of the city and the entire country – through leadership, infrastructure development, and high quality and comfort of life.

Mariupol has become a bright beacon for the occupied territories in five years. It embodies the great opportunities for development that Ukrainian cities have. We do not forget about the higher goal – to be a showcase of the restored Ukrainian Donbas. Only under the condition of total de-occupation of the region can we consider our mission completed. 

But we also strive to be even better and brighter. Mariupol has the potential and ambition to become the city of the Ukrainian miracle, demonstrating how quickly and comprehensively each town in the country can develop if it follows the path of transparency and best practices. Today, Mariupol is the miracle of the city of Mary, which is beginning to take on actual shapes. We create new opportunities for citizens and all of Ukraine. We are building Europe in Mariupol, and if we can do it, so can Ukraine. The success of Mariupol means new opportunities and the success of the entire country.

A city that the whole of Ukraine takes as an example. Mentor city. Magnet city. The city of success. These statements are the basis from which we formulated the mission of Mariupol. Behind these theses is the complex challenge of an unprecedented acceleration of development and achieving high standards of living comfort for citizens. But we confidently say to the whole world: by 2030, Mariupol will become the city of the Ukrainian miracle.

The war changed many things. This is not an event in which you can look for any advantages. However, it is still worth mentioning that the destruction of Mariupol will allow building it from scratch to make the city comfortable and modern.

“Because of the war, many things that have not been resolved for years have already been resolved. It is no secret that there was a conventional mental division into West and East in our country. Now, this issue is so trivial that no one thinks of it; it cannot trigger a single argument. Such problems have taken a back seat, and now people are helping each other as much as possible. The war united us, and after it, our cities will become even better. The level of people’s unity and awareness of the importance of further development of our country is very inspiring,” says Albertas.