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Special Edition: Best "Future Cities" In 2011

Aired December 26, 2011 - 14:00:00   ET


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, and welcome to this holiday edition to QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Richard Quest.

It's a very different program today. Because for each of the last 12 months we focused on a different city and profiled its plans for the future. Now, we've covered enough ground to rival Santa Clause. We've reported from 12 cities in six regions of the world. So, for the next hour we are going to take you on a journey to urban past, present, and future. And we will revisit some of our favorite stories from "Future Cities" in 2011.

Back in January we kicked things off with a true megalopolis.


QUEST (voice over): As far as the eye can see, house after house after house. Mexico City, the world's second biggest city is home to more than 20 million people, and one of the greatest examples of urban sprawl.


QUEST: A place such as Mexico City is of such proportions that it needs a drainage system to match. That is why the Mexican capital is building the world's biggest sewer. It has even got its own brand of heroes. They are called sewer divers. We caught up with the chief frogman and found his Herculean commitment is part of what makes Mexico City a true "Future City."


QUEST (voice over): This is Julio Cou Camera, he learned how to swim when he was a boy, here, in Mexico City. Now he swims everyday, but not in the sea, or in a sanitized swimming pool.

JULIO COU CAMERA, SEWER DIVER (through translator): When I tell people that I am a diver, they always think I mean in the sea, with fish. But no, I swim in the drains.

QUEST: Julio swims through sewage. He's the city's chief sewer diver.

CAMERA (through translator): I've been doing this job for 28 years and I love it. It is a job that requires 100 percent of human involvement.

The smell doesn't reach me inside my helmet. I can't smell anything. Once I'm zipped up, my suit is hermetically sealed.

QUEST: He goes down into the depths of the city, feeling his way around in the murky water, clearing blockages. Today he's trying to plug a leak with sand bags.

CAMERA (through translator): The water is so dirty that we can't see anything. Not with lamps infrared lights, or anything. We can't see a thing down below.

QUEST: Mexico City's sewer system is at breaking point. The capacity of the drains here is 30 percent less than it was in 1975. To make matters worse, the population has doubled to more than 20 million people.

This is the answer, says Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, the most important project of his government.

MAYOR MARCELO EBRARD, MEXICO CITY: The main risk in the city is about the management of the water. So we are going to build a tunnel in order to preserve the city.

QUEST: The Emisor Oriente, a new deep drainage tunnel and a monumental piece of engineering.

OSCAR GUSTAVO ALVA NIETO, CONAGUA: We are in the Emisor Oriente, we are 50 meters below the ground and this is the biggest sewer system in the world.

QUEST: Sixty-two kilometers in length, seven meters wide, it can carry 150 cubic meters per second of waste water, charging through its depths. The tunnel will help cope with floods, a major issue.

In February last year, 29 people died in this area. Part of the problem was an open sewage canal, which overflowed in heavy rain.

JOSE MIGUEL GUEVARA TORRES, EMISOR ORIENTE, CONAGUA (through translator): In order to give the city a future, the least we have to do is to sort out the drains.

QUEST: There are 12,000 kilometers of pipes in Mexico City. Many of them now run backwards. That is because the city is sinking, by up to 24 centimeters each year. For instance the Angel of Independence Monument has had 14 new steps added.

TORRES (through translator): The drainage canals originally had a slope going down out of the city. But the sinking has reversed that slope and now the canals are of no use.

We as humans have very recklessly decided to build a city on what used to be a lake. And every year nature tries to claw back the land and reconstruct the lake. We are fighting nature.

MARTHA DELGADO, ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY, MEXICO CITY: We have, now, to deal with the city of the past, but also with the city of the future. And the city of the past was a city that used to be in a lake. This was a lake 500 years ago. So water always wants to be here.

QUEST: Building on the lake was started by the Aztecs. It was finished by the Spanish. Ground water supplies below the city are the main source of fresh water for the people and the reason that the earth is compressing.

TORRES (through translator): It is foolishness which has lead to more than 20 million people living in this valley, 2200 meters above sea level, which then creates the problem of bringing fresh water in, as well as taking waste water out.

QUEST: Such foolishness now means the whole city depends on pumps to force out their waste water. Part of which Julio, the sewer diver, has to keep clean.

CAMERA (through translator): Cigar stubs, car parts, microwaves, frigs, tires, tree trunks, dead animals, we can find everything in the drain.

QUEST: On the other side of town, the new tunnel will double the drainage capacity of Mexico City's sewers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are inside the tunnel underneath Mexico City. Our workers are excavating using that tunnel boring machine and it is starting the lining.

QUEST: The first part is expected to be finished in 2012. It will be fully operational by the end of 2013. The tunnel is being constructed up to 150 meters below ground to escape the damaging effects of the sinking earth.

MIGUEL CARMONA, DRAINAGE SYSTEMS DIRECTOR, MEXICO CITY (through translator): Since 1521, that has been the story of Mexico City, confrontation with water, the battle for water.

QUEST: Obviously, it is too late to relocate Mexico City. Water has always been a challenge in this mega-city and that is not going to change anytime soon. Bringing it in, pumping it out. At the moment, it is Julio, the sewer diver, who is keeping things flowing.


QUEST: After the break, from steaming sewage in Mexico City to the snowscapes of Helsinki. "Future Cities" continues.


QUEST: Welcome back it is our "Future Cities" holiday special. If you had to list last winter's hot topics snow could well be at the top of the agenda. Week after week we watched roads and airports in the Northern Hemisphere grinding to a halt. Not so in Helsinki, in Finland. In February we traveled to Finnish capital to find out how year after year the city wins its war on snow.


QUEST (voice over): Four months of the year and the Helsinki Peninsula disappears under a white blanket of snow, masking the division of land and sea. And, yet, the Finnish capital keeps its skies, and water, and streets moving. The key to keeping on top of it all is good snow how.

(On camera): Snow clearance in Helsinki is a virtual military operation. Every10 seconds a truck arrives, dumps its snow, and leaves. Only with this sort of precision can they keep the city moving in the depths of winter.

(voice over): This winter season Helsinki has had its thickest snow cover in more than 50 years. The man in charge is the deputy mayor, Pekka Sauri. He responded by launching Operation Snow War, resorting to special measures to accelerate snow removal in the inner city.

PEKKA SAURI, DEPUTY MAYOR, HELSINKI: It has certainly been major strain. If you look at piles of snow around, around the city, it is hard to know whether there is a car buried underneath or, or is it just snow.

QUEST (voice over): Day and night snow plows trawl Helsinki streets, shoveling and relocating 5,000 truckloads of snow, very 24 hours. Almost a third of the waste and snow ends up in the sea, where tug boats circle continuously helping it melt away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you stop this for 10 minutes, this freezes over, and that is it, that is the end.

QUEST: Another 3,000 loads get dumped daily, on land. It creates Helsinki's artificial mountain range of snow.

Those who live here are expected to play their part, too.

(On camera): Whose snow is this?

DAN-HENRIK, LANGSTROM, PROJECT MANAGER, HELSINKI CITY: Well, this is actually if the snow is on the street, on the driveway, it is the city's snow. But as soon as we plough it, then it becomes the property's.

QUEST: So that was your snow?


QUEST: And now it is their snow?


QUEST: And who has to get rid of it now?

LANGSTROM: The property.

QUEST: That is rather good, isn't it?


QUEST: It means you don't have to get rid of it.


QUEST (voice over): Getting the snow out of the way is not just about convenience. It is a matter of safety.

(On camera): Knocking the ice off the roof is of crucial importance. Just recently a large chunk of ice fell from a building and killed a man walking beneath.

(Voice over): No less of a hazard are the city's icy roads. One very famous Fin knows a thing or two about driving in tough conditions. The Formula One driver, Heikki Kovaleinen tells me that without some specialized training you can't even get a driving license.

(On camera): How important is it to learn to drive in these conditions? Because the roads do get gritted, pretty clearly, and quickly, in Helsinki and around?

HEIKKI KOVALEINEN, FORMULA ONE DRIVER: Yeah, I mean, the service to clean the roads is excellent in our country. But in any case a little layer of ice is actually forming on the top of the surface, very, very quickly. And the roads, even if they look that there is no free snow there, it is actually icy. So, it is absolutely essential to be able to control the car.

QUEST: The real champion in this city's war on snow, is Helsinki Airport. Unlike many of its European neighbors, Vantaa Airport stayed operational throughout winter. It prides itself on having an infallible maintenance program.

HEINI NORONEN-JUHOLA, HELSINKI-VANTAA AIRPORT: In our situation, since we have five months of snow every year. We have to be able to deal with the snow and ice situation. It is our strategic, competitive edge that this airport is open and operates all of the time.

QUEST: Thanks to this specialized fleet of machines this slick operation can clear a runway in as little as four minutes. The last time Helsinki Airport shut was in 2003, but that was for a mere 30 minutes.

ALEXANDER STUBB, FINNISH FOREIGN MINISTER: From a functional perspective, you know, I think we really have to start looking at different airports around Europe, and understand that the type of climate change that we have, the type of sudden changes that we have, we have to be prepared for the worst. And the worst cannot be five centimeters of snow.

QUEST: Helsinki's airport is clearly the gold standard. In the city, despite strenuous efforts to keep things moving, city hall still has it critics. And some of them are pretty high up.

(On camera): You must have had a wry smile on your face Prime Minister, when you have seen other European countries grind to a halt.

MARI KIVINIEMI, PRIME MINISTER OF FINLAND: Actually, I'm not pleased with my home city's way to handle the snow, because we could have done it better, here, in Helsinki. But compared to other countries, we manage the city as brilliantly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no sort of magic tricks here. The only sure fire way of preventing the problems would be to sort of build a roof over city. But that is maybe some way off.

QUEST: Until then the pile continues to grow, reaching such great heights it doesn't fully melt until next year's snows start to arrive.

(On camera): Helsinki is at the mercy of winter. It is only by planning for the worst that the city keeps moving. In fact, it is only through its policy of snow-how that Helsinki has any future.


QUEST: Today in Helsinki, the capital will get just six hours of sunlight. As if giant mounds of snow weren't enough of an obstacle, the people who live there often suffer from long periods of darkness, which can indeed bring on depression and sadness. To brighten things up, Helsinki organizes an annual light festival. A selection, here, of our favorite light installations from the event.


MIKKI KUNTTU, FINNISH LIGHT ARTIST: I guess you tend to be a bit more tired in the dark time of the year. Then when I look at it from designers point of view, it is also a great resource for us. Because in the dark time of year, we can do our magic.


QUEST: More "Future Cities" after the break.


QUEST: Welcome back. It is the best of "Future Cities" and the places we visited in 2011. In April we featured our first Central African "Future City."

Seventeen years after Rwanda's genocide left an eighth of the population dead, the capital city, Kigali, has made remarkable progress. Early in the series we showed you how Kigali is positioning itself as an African IT hub and distributing laptops to school children.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now what is the tense of this --

NKUBITO BAKURAMUTSA, COORDINATOR, ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD: What we believe is we need to create a knowledge-based economy and for that education plays a fundamental role.

If you look at all the infrastructure that you've visited, they need people to run them, to man them, and the best way for us is to ensure that we have a local population that is knowledgeable enough, that has skills that are comparable to the entire world. So investing in laptops is really ensuring that we ultimately have a return on our investment.


QUEST: Kigali thinks progressively, not only in terms of education, the Rwandan capital is also forging a reputation for being clean and green. And the city leaders are doing their best to restore civic pride. It is all part of a hope that the community that cleans together stays together.


QUEST: There is no denying it, these clean, calm and tidy streets of Rwanda's capital do not fit the stereotypical image of an African city. No sign of the polluted, chaotic streets associated with some of its urban neighbors. The key to cleaning up the city has been getting everyone to do their bit.

PAUL KAGAME, Keeping our streets clean, our homesteads clean, ourselves clean, is not something you need to go out looking for sources. It is something we have within ourselves. Why not start from that? It becomes a culture, it becomes a way of life.

QUEST: Four years after the 1994 genocide laid waste of Kigali the city began to restore its sense of order. In the years that followed they targeted garbage collection, beautified the streets, and banned the use of plastic bags.

In private enterprise men like Paulin Buregeya saw an opportunity in the city's needs.

PAULIN BUREGEYA, COPED WASTE COLLECTION & RECYCLING: I started a company in 1999. It was a challenge for everyone to see what to do and to know what to do. So it was in that process of changing the country, and trying also to recover what we lost during the genocide. So there were just so many problems, including the waste management. So, I say, why not start by waste.

QUEST: The doctrine was born, being clean is crucial to progress.

DR. ROSE MUKANKOMEJE: We cannot talk about the development of this country when we don't take care of the cleaning. You see, some people think when you are poor, maybe you don't have the right to own good things. I think if even if Rwanda is not a rich country, we have a vision. We want to be clean. We want to be rich. So (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

QUEST: The heart of the program is a city-wide clean up day. It is compulsory. On the last Saturday of each month business stops, and everyone, including the president meets for Umaganda, a day of community work and discussion. Today the new mayor of Kigali is working with local youth groups. This collective spirit of participation has its roots in the country's recovery from civil war.

It may seem out of place to talk about cleaning streets after a city has faced genocide, but that ignores the point. Keeping Kigali clean means the populations working together. That means building the community.

MUKANKOMEJE: After genocide, the fabric of the society was completely destroyed. You have seen somebody living here, he is a survivor, the other one is maybe a killer, I don't know. Through this community work, you know he's your neighbor.

Also, maybe you have been with this ownership, this owner is for us.


QUEST: When he speaks the mayor keeps his message simple. Each one of us is responsible for building our city.


FIDELE NDAYISABA, MAYOR OF KIGALI: Rwandan now have chosen to put their efforts together because they realize that there is no reason of divisions. We are all one, united we are achievers, and this Rwanda is one of the testimonies of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (on-screen translation): The past government used the youth to destroy the country. Today's government is encouraging us to do the right thing. So that is why we feel a responsibility to help to see our Rwanda grow, and continue to be clean.

In Rwanda we have had to overcome many problems (ph), many challenges, and we have been so lucky, I should say, you know, we are unlucky on the one hand, because of the problems we have faced in the past, but on the other hand, very lucky, in a sense, that having survived this and gone over it, and each creates a new spirit.


QUEST: In Kigali they have gone right back to basics. Cleanliness maybe next to godliness, but it is also a way to build a future city.


QUEST: Kigali's clean city program. When we return after the break, spin the globe again, and this time we go to China, and visit the Eastern worlds model eco city. In a moment.


QUEST: This is "Future Cities" year in review. The month of May saw us go to China. A locomotive of growth, expanding at breakneck speed. And with this speed come some concerns over the country's urban landscape. Each and every year 20 new cities are being build from scratch in China. By 2025, there will be 221 cities that will have a population of more that 1,000 people. How does a city accommodate such growth? To discover we went to Tianjin, a large industrial city in China's northeast. A city of the future, no doubt, which is defining a new landscape for itself.


QUEST: All over China, there are places like this: Tianjin. They are not small cities, more than 11 million people live here. And there are more people on the way.

(On camera): The trend is clear and it is growing. By 2030, a billion Chinese people will be living in cities. That means more than 350 million people pouring into places like Tianjin.

So, the urban landscape will change, it will want to move out and up.

The challenges facing the urban centers like Tianjin are enormous.

(On camera): It's traffic, population, pollution.

EDE IJJASZ, WORLD BANK, CHINA: Every developing country has gone through a process of urbanization. Urbanization is important for economic development and for poverty reduction. China is just barely crossing the 50 percent organization rate. More people need to move to cities.

QUEST (on camera): Chinese cities like Tianjin are the ultimate future city. Those that are already built, will have to expand. Those that are being built from scratch have the opportunity to set the standard and become models for urban planners. In fact, every one is watching to see how China handles urbanization on a scale never seen before.

(voice over): China needs this urbanization, because people living in cities will help bring China the economic growth it seeks. The problem is where to put them? The answer, places like this.

Eco City, part of the Sino-Singaporean project near Tianjin.

HO TON YEN, CEO, SSTEC: So we are building this on a 30-square kilometer aqua city.

QUEST: But why such a big project?

I suppose for it to work as a viable, demonstration project, it must offer a sizable scale. I mean, what we had in mind is not building a small little, equal village.

QUEST: This is a city for 350,000 people. The size of Canada's capital Ottawa, here on he outskirts of Tianjin proper.

Bridges, railways, parks, office, apartments, so far, most of echo city is this model. And yet, bearing in mind, the progress they've made to date, you have to assume that this will become a reality, in our lifetime.

The environmental pledges are many, 20 percent of energy from newable sources; 50 percent of water from non-traditional, sources like rainwater and de-salination. And an astonishing 90 percent of trips to be made on foot by bike or with low-emission light rail systems.

SZE PANG CHEUNG, GREENPEACE EAST ASIA: Some of those partners are quite progressive on their own. But I think the key question is whether they were just applicable to the future city in Tianjin, or they can life up to their (UNINTELLIGIBLE) being reputable in other cities in China.

QUEST: So all of this, has gone up in three years?

LUI XU, ENVIRONMENT BUREAU, SSTEC: Three years. It has forced (UNINTELLIGIBLE) down here. And the salty area in this part.

QUEST: But what is the purpose of it all?

XU: It is our future; it's the future for the Chinese cities, I think.

This was started three years ago. The completion date is 2020. People will be living here as soon as next year.

There are more than 100 econ cities in China, and as some flourish, some don't develop, and there is like 1,000 flowers blooming. Trying to understand what are the lesson, wand which one to go with, and which ones don't, and move forward.

There are lots of experiments going on, not just in the eco cities, we shouldn't wait until those experiments finish. The urgency of the problems that China is facing requires urgent actions.

Will everything be achieved? Maybe, maybe not, but the learning that comes out of that will define the what is doable in other cities.

QUEST: As China prepares for its urban build up (ph) it is cities like Tianjin and its satellites which are striking out and trying to define the new urban landscape.


QUEST: Tianjin, just one of China's many future cities that we'll visit next year.

And when we return after the break, I struggle to find my bearings in the city they call the "Paris of the Middle East." More "Future Cities" next.


QUEST: Welcome back. It is a festive edition of "Future Cities." Satnav (ph) and GPS, it all gives us maps at the touch of a button. So finding your way around an unfamiliar city with technology has never been easier. But in Beirut the capital of Lebanon, things aren't always quite a simple. Many streets aren't signed posted, some streets have many names. So for visitors who lad the local know-how every twist and turn can be punishing.

One young business man, wants to change that mindset.



QUEST (voice over): This is Beirut. A major, cosmopolitan, capital city, where people go about their daily lives and they all seem to know where they are going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translation on screen): Don't you want maps like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translation on screen): No, my map is in my head.

QUEST: Yet, as one entrepreneur set out to prove, five years ago, finding your way around here doesn't work like other cities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translation on screen): What's the name of this street please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translation on screen): That's Arax Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translation on screen): And this street you're on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translation on screen): It's Arax Street, too!

QUEST: The Beiruti way, it is not a system based on street names.

MAYOR BILAL HAMAD, BEIRUT: In Beirut, if you want to come to my place, I tell you it is near that supermarket, near that shop, near that movie theater, it is stupid.

BAHI GHUBRIL, FOUNDER AND CHIEF, ZAWARIB: Everybody is lost all the time and phone calls from the car. Hi, I'm next to the Pepsi-Cola sign, turn left at the Dunkin Donuts, turn right at the -- costly time wasted, road rage. Come on guys, it is not difficult. Make a map, read the book, and get here.

NAOMI SARGEANT, TIME OUT BEIRUT: The directions here are based upon what is next to the place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translation on screen): Where is London Street?

SARGEANT: They won't necessarily be a street name, you need to know exactly where you are going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translation on screen): We don't know where it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translation on screen): It's in London!

QUEST: The current system may work for the locals but this is a place with ambitions to be a major international business city. And people like Bahi Ghubril plan to help it get there with Beirut's first comprehensive street atlas.

GHUBRIL: Maps, for me is a way of getting this city to go beyond it's traditional -- I love the traditional roots in a way, but also it is a way of placing Beirut at the fore of global cities. We don't want people coming here and saying, "Oh, we can't do business in Beirut. Or I can't live here, because if you are not a local, you feel left out."

QUEST (On camera): Are you confident?

GHUBRIL: Sure am, let's go.

QUEST (voice over): Bahi analyzed the current system and designed a map that would work in this city. The outcome is Zawarib, which lists traditional street names, popular names, and those landmarks nearby.

GHUBRIL: So, in Beirut, many streets are named.

QUEST (on camera): Caracas?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of them, though, are used, the names that are traditional, as opposed to official.

QUEST: Caracas Street?


QUEST: Caracas Street, which is also known, incidentally as Kuwait Street.

GHUBRIL: Nine time out of 10 it is, 99 percent of the time we use landmarks.

QUEST: We missed the one thing that we should have looked at, to find out where we are: Costa Coffee.

GHUBRIL: Yes, big landmark.

We have filled the map with what we call points of reference.

QUEST: I was told to get to the Commodore Cinema.

Cinema Commodore, where is it?


QUEST: Follow you?


QUEST: No cinema.

(Voice over): Turns out the cinema has long since gone, but the name lives on in the street.

(On camera): What is the name of this street?


QUEST: This is Commodore?

The name? Street Baalback.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The proper name is Street Baalbek.

QUEST: Baalbek Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, on the maps you find Baalbek Street.

QUEST: Do people still call it Commodore Street?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, because it is a very famous hotel.

QUEST: This junction perfectly shows the problem facing Beirut. Here we have a junction where only one of the streets has got a name. It is known as Baalbek Street. But everybody here knows it as Commodore Street, after the Commodore Cinema, which is no longer here. But now they know it because of the Commodore Hotel, which has since been built.

Confused? You will be.

Sir, we want to go to Najib Hadafa Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)

QUEST (voice over): I'm starting to get the hang of the challenges faced by Ghubril.

(On camera): So you don't use a map?

GHUBRIL: The hardest part is to get people to use it. It is very technical. They think.

QUEST: In an effort to make maps an ordinary part of Beiruti life, Bahi is working with the mayor to put them on the streets of the city.

GHUBRIL: Could we afford, as a first step, to put 58 plates like this?

HAMAD: I know every time I go to a city, I see a maps. We don't have maps here. So he came with this idea. I told him, I'm with you. I see it in Europe. I see it in the States, why not in Beirut?

QUEST: Ghubril's expectations are realistic. He knows Beirutis won't change the way they live their lives, overnight. So, making the city accessible, is what this entrepreneur's contribution is all about.

(On camera): But how would you direct me to get to the Clemensu (ph) Medical Center?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get yourself hit by a car, and they take you by ambulance.



QUEST: Beirut, mapping out its future. During our visit to the Lebanese capital we also introduced you to a Beiruti pushing to preserve historic buildings, those that were destroyed during Lebanon's civil war.


MONA HALLAK, ARCHITECT, PRESERVATIONIST: I can paint this famous building because it really right in the center of the history of Beirut. Architecturally it is a pioneering example avant-garde architecture. Historically it summarizes the beauty of living in Beirut before the war. And it summarizes the fight to preserve Beirut's heritage.


QUEST: Whilst in Beirut, the city's core is being rebuilt after years of war. In another capital city it is an awareness for the need to preserve. When we come back we are in Moscow, which, these days, is one step ahead.


QUEST: When you think of Russia, what immediately comes to mind? Caviar, Tolstoy, perhaps the collapse of the Soviet Empire? The choices fill centuries, span generations. It has left Muscovites with a bit of an identity crisis. So, now Russia's capital is pulling out all the stops to restore its rich heritage, especially three major landmarks. And if you'll join me in the library, I'll show you what I mean. First of all, of course, the Kremlin, the center of Russian politics, which will be so crucial in presidential election in 2012. Then, Christ the Savior Cathedral, Russia's religious heart, and of course, the Bolshoi theater, a cultural palace that has enjoyed a grand reopening.

I went to Moscow to see why the past is not only present, it is also making the Russian capital a future city.


QUEST (voice over): The year is 1812, and Russia is fighting off a French invasion. Whiling away the long evenings with music and dance -- except this is 2011 and it is Saturday night in Moscow.

QUEST: This costume ball is just one example of how today in Moscow they are quite comfortable celebrating the past. In fact, they relish what went before.

(voice over): Moscow is in the grip of a Czarist revival that goes way beyond entertainment. After Communism's collapse President Boris Yeltsin began ordering the restoration of key parts of Moscow's heritage.

The ceremonial halls of the great Kremlin Palace, where the czars were crowned and modern-day presidents inaugurated. Tatiana Kameneva is the chief architect of this restoration project.

TATIANA KAMENEVA, RESTORATION ARCHITECT (onscreen translation): It was where the Supreme Council of the Soviets met.

QUEST (On camera): So all this -- I mean, were the chandeliers here?

KAMENEVA (onscreen translation): None of it was here, none of it. It was only on photographs, sketches, and in the archives.

QUEST (voice over): Over four years, Tatiana and her team painstakingly rebuilt the pillars, remolded the gold carvings, and restored the two-headed eagle, Russia's imperial emblem.

(On camera): This wall is one of the biggest changes in the restoration. It was taken down by the Soviets, to make one long room. It was restored after the collapse.

(Voice over): In total, 19 kilograms of gold leaf went into this room.

KAMENEVA (onscreen translation): As a restoration architect I have always been convinced that you need to preserve authenticity. All our history, even from the time of the grand princes, is linked to this place.

QUEST: By the turn of the century, the Kremlin halls have been returned to their former czarist glory.

(On camera): After the Kremlin, the most famous building in Moscow, some would say, is this, the Bolshoi Ballet, which is just reopening after six-year renovation.

(Voice over): Tatiana showed me the important part of the external restoration. The grand facade is restored to perfection, she says. But the back, a similar column structure has been removed. And she is not happy.

KAMENEVA (onscreen translation): I think it is vandalism. They should have kept this, even if it was inside, even if it wasn't visible.

QUEST: The Bolshoi Theater says the columns were not destroyed and have been preserved in the Bolshoi Museum. Yet, controversy surrounding Moscow's major restoration projects is nothing new.

The Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the seat of the Orthodox Church, and a defining feature on the Moscow skyline. This is the original. It was built in the 1830s.


The Soviets tore it down a century later, replacing it with a public swimming pool. By the 1980s the site already had architects dreaming. It had to be returned.

ALEKSEY DENISOV, RESTORATION ARCHITECT: The idea of rebuilding the cathedral, first came up in the Soviet times. Ten years later, in 1994, it became a government project.

QUEST: Aleksey Denisov, worked on the new cathedral for five years, before being replaced by another architect. He believes the building symbolizes Russia's spiritual revival. As an architectural revival, he has his doubts.

DENISOV: Take the cathedral's decoration, especially the high reliefs. They were originally marble, and, of course, we wanted to recreate them in the same material. But commercially, it was more profitable to make them out of bronze, so that's what they did.

QUEST: The devil's not only in the detail. The Moscow Architecture Preservation Society warns that complete reconstruction projects like this can actually harm Moscow's heritage.

CLEMENTINE CECIL, CO-FOUNDER, MOSCOW ARCHITECTURE: When we set up maps, we quickly realize that one of the main threats to Moscow's heritage wasn't the bulldozer. It was also this quite insidious practice of sort constructing replicas, sham replicas, bloated versions of the originals.

QUEST: While accurately restoring Moscow's heritage can be a problem.

Back at the ball, it is clear that it is much more than just accuracy at stake.

ALEXANDER GORELIK, DIRECTOR, UNICEF MOSCOW: There is more to it than meets the eye. Because basically it is about filling some gaps in the way Russians see themselves.

QUEST: After a century of revolution, and regime change, this city and its people are dealing with an identity crisis. They need to look back, and be at peace, before they can move forward.


QUEST: Moscow's historic landmarks restored. And there we reach the end of this "Future Cities" special. As we have traveled 50,000 miles, twice around the world, we have sifted through sewage in Mexico City, we found our bearings in Beirut. We watched cities become cleaner and greener, bigger and better.

As ever, the world's urban centers will continue to shift shape in 2012. And we'll be traveling more to document the progress. My first port of call in the new year, will be Doha, the capital city of Qatar, where the emir's bold vision is being realized.


QUEST (voice over): The cultural area, that promises to be one of the great jewels of this country, doesn't it?

H.E. SHEIKHA AL MAYASSA, CHAIRPERSON, QATAR MUSEUM AUTHORITY: It is, you know, looking at culture as part of our development strategy. So it will really be the DNA of our nation. And we look forward to the results.


QUEST: I'm Richard Quest. And I'll see you next year, in more of the world's "Future Cities."