This presentation considers the cultural area of the city of Yakutsk. Cold and permafrost, differences of summer and winter temperatures create the unique identity of Yakutsk as a northern city on permafrost. Sounds, smells, proportions, communications and symbols – this semiosphere forms a special cultural space of the northern city.
Yakutsk was founded as a fort in the middle of the 17th century. Yakutsk is older than St. Petersburg, the Northern Capital of the European part of Russia. This comparison with the capital may be considered as flattering in a way; tt actually illustrates a relativity of the «northern city» concept, that varies depending on a cultural and historical context.
The northern identity of the settlement reflected its genesis — from the Cossack fort and a point of territorial expansion in the northeast of Russia to transport hub and the capital of the Republic. During the different periods of history the image of Yakutsk has changed, from the Russian orthodox city to the Soviet city with industrial zones, the Center and slums.
Lifelessness, emptiness, an icy cold, silence – for a long time, these were the main metaphors and descriptors of the «northern-ness» of Yakutsk. Stone civil engineering created the new image of the city. Yakutsk`s winters with low temperatures have always created technological challenges. The antithesis of Cold is Heat, and so the ways of heat transfer generate a special technological landscape: pile houses, elevated communications, wires – all of this industrial furniture of the city is now its hallmark.
Permafrost and cold led to the formation of special types of communication, which were stretched out in physical space of the city as symbols of a special form of social cooperation. Cold and permafrost also created a dramatic urban esthetics through the collision of natural and the artificial or industrial.
This paper considers cold and permafrost as the source of development of cultural space of the city. The unique space of the city is created by its architecture, elements of technological communications and the linguistic landscape (the concept of «North» in names of hotels, banks and jewelry stores).
The paper is based on a research of cultural space of the city, its linguistic landscape that has been conducted since 2013 in Central federal district of Yakutsk. Methods of a research were observation, interviewing, methods of fixing of objects ; the results of this research regarding the analysis of a linguistic landscape were published in the Language Policy magazine, Springer in 2016.