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Belyayevo Forever: How Mid-Century Soviet Microrayons Question Our Notions of Preservation

Belyayevo, which was based on the example set by the Ninth Quarter of Cheryomushki. Image © Max Avdeev
Belyayevo, which was based on the example set by the Ninth Quarter of Cheryomushki. Image © Max Avdeev

What are the characteristics of preservation-worthy architecture? In his book "Belyayevo Forever: A Soviet Microrayon on its Way to the UNESCO List," Kuba Snopek finds uniqueness in the seemingly generic Belyayevo microrayon, and argues that in spite of its pattern-book design it is worthy of protection. In this excerpt from the book's first chapter, Snopek examines Belyayevo's predecessor - the Ninth Quarter of Cheryomushki, which was constructed in the 1950s as an experiment that would transform Soviet housing policy - finding it to be a place which challenges our preconceived notions about architectural heritage.

A foreigner’s first contact with Moscow might begin with Google Earth. Its virtual tour through Russia’s capital starts with a view of its radial-concentric plan: loops of circular roads radiating from the Kremlin are cut through with the straight lines of prospects (avenues) and streets leading from the center towards the outskirts. This general scheme is familiar to any European architect: many other cities have circular boulevards, straight avenues and ring roads.

Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev

Open International Competition: White Gardens Arcade

ProjectNext communications agency and White Gardens business center announce an open international competition for architecture, structural-engineering, and design firms with the aim of finding the best concept for White Gardens Arcade.

Arcade is a public space between the two blocks of the White Gardens business center, which is located in the well-known White District business district. The glass-roofed space of the Arcade contains restaurants, cafes, and bars. During the warm months of the year visitors may sit out on open verandahs and listen to concerts. Arcade has a floor area of more than 800 square meters and is intended as a place where both people working at the business center and the general public may come to relax.

House in Duhanino / Alexey Rozenberg

  • Architects: Alexey Rozenberg
  • Location: Moscow, Russia
  • Participating Architect: Peter Kostelov
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Konstantin Dubovets

© Konstantin Dubovets © Konstantin Dubovets © Konstantin Dubovets © Konstantin Dubovets

Sergey Skuratov Wins Competition for Multi Use Project on Moscow River Bank


A consortium led by Sergey Skuratov Architects (SSA) was selected over Steven Holl Architects and Miralles Tagliabue EMBT to develop a concept for a multi use complex on Moscow's Sofiyskaya Embankment. Planned for a historic area on the Moscow-river bank, opposite Kremlin, the winning concept calls for three "longitudinal units with roofs of different types and heights" that produce a "picturesque outline" and offers a "gentle transition" from the "old buildings to new."

Read on for a glimpse of the winning and two runner-up proposals. 

Renzo Piano to Convert Moscow Power Station into an Arts and Culture Center

The V-A-C Foundation has selected Renzo Piano Building Workshop to re-develop a two-hectare area in Moscow, converting a former power station into a center for contemporary arts and culture. Located on the Moskva river in the city’s Red October district, the GES2 power station was built in the early 1900s and once supplied energy to the city. The project envisions the recuperation of the power station’s original form as well as the reconfiguration of the entire site into a 150 meter by 150 meter square. 

Gallery: OMA's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art Photographed by Laurian Ghinitoiu

Photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has shared with us images of OMA's recently completed Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow. The museum project repurposed the 1960s Vremena Goda restaurant in Gorky Central Park and transformed it into a modern exhibition space adorned with Soviet era tiles, mosaics and bricks preserved from its previous life. 

"The building offers a wide range of interior conditions for the exhibition of art beyond the ubiquitous “white cube,” described OMA in the project's description. Scroll down for more images of the museum by Ghinitoiu. 

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Garage Museum of Contemporary Art / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Garage Museum of Contemporary Art / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Garage Museum of Contemporary Art / OMA. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

Moscow Urban Forum Announces Diverse List of Speakers

The annual Moscow Urban Forum is right around the corner. To be held from October 16-17, the theme of this year’s forum is “Moscow as a Dynamic Megacity: Flexible Management Practices.” The forum will feature two days of conferences, exhibitions and lectures with a focus on issues surrounding the development of Moscow. While in past years the conference focused on issues related to megacities in general, this year for the first time the forum will just focus on the capital city.

“The international political situation influenced the key aspects of the country’s life, bringing internal goals and tasks to the foreground. That is why we have decided to concentrate only on the Moscow agenda this year, and to dedicate the Forum to the presentation and discussion of projects related to the capital, a search for new Moscow development centres, outlining the problems and challenges faced by the megacity during the crisis, a search for the most optimal and effective solutions for further successful development of the city,” said Marat Khusnullin, the Moscow Deputy Mayor for Urban Development and Construction and the head of the Moscow Urban Forum executive committee.

Asymptote Unveils Plans for Hermitage Museum and New Tower in Moscow

Today in Moscow, Asymptote Architecture unveiled plans for the new Hermitage Modern Contemporary, alongside a 150-meter tower planned for ZiL - the city's oldest industrial area and former Soviet automotive factory. The State Hermitage Museum's newest outpost, the 15-story satellite facility was said to be inspired by El Lissitzky's "Proun" painting, which informed the building's "terraced interior."

“With so much museum work over the years, we’ve dress-rehearsed for the Hermitage,” Hani Rashid of Asymptote told the New York Times back in July. “We’ve done a lot of thinking about how art might be seen in the future, about how the museum building itself can provoke artistic responses.”

Gallery: A Sneak Peek at Zaha Hadid's Dominion Tower in Moscow

Photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has shared with us this sneak peek of Zaha Hadid Architects' latest completed work, the Dominion Tower in Moscow. Led by Project Director Christos Passas, the building's eight rectilinear stories are each staggered and cantilevered over the one below and feature ribbon windows with a trademark Zaha Hadid twist, while the interior features a dramatic top-lit atrium criss-crossed by stairs. Read on to see Ghinitoiu's full photo set.

Infobox / project eleven

  • Architects: project eleven
  • Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
  • Architects in Charge: Igor Chirkin, Aleksey Podkidyshev
  • Landscape and Masterplan: Asse architects
  • Area: 30.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Ilia Ivanov

© Ilia Ivanov © Ilia Ivanov © Ilia Ivanov © Ilia Ivanov

The Legacy of Dictatorial Architecture in our Cities

For the latest edition of The UrbanistMonocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team travel to Moscow, Portugal and Hong Kong to examine how "architecture has always been the unfortunate sidekick of any dictatorial regime." In the process they ask what these buildings actually stand for, and explore the legacy of the architecture of Fascist, Imperial and Brutalist regimes from around the world today. From the Seven Sisters in Moscow to António de Oliveira Salazar's Ministry of Internal Affairs in Lisbon, this episode asks how colonial, dictatorial and power-obsessed architecture has shaped our cities.

Examining OMA's Two Latest Venues for Contemporary Art

In an article for DesignCurial, Shumi Bose visits OMA's new galleries in Milan and Moscow: the Fondazione Prada and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Noting that "the mythologies [between OMA and Miuccia Prada] have become inextricably intertwined" over recent years, "the purpose of [the Fondazione Prada] was to produce a range of spaces for the creation, display of and engagement with art; what results is the built realisation of a particular ethos, affording the protean OMA a return to form. And it was always going to be stylish." Bose's flowing description of the building and its spaces, which she ultimately praises as "a place which will bear return," leads into an equally compelling description of Garage for which she recognises its clear "contribution [...] in supporting, indeed composing, the very narrative of Russian contemporary art."

Pernod Ricard Rouss Office / UNK project

Courtesy of UNK project Courtesy of UNK project Courtesy of UNK project Courtesy of UNK project

Attic for an Architect / buro5

  • Architects: buro5
  • Location: Moscow, Russia
  • Architect in Charge: Boris Denisyuk
  • Area: 49.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Luciano Spinelli

© Luciano Spinelli © Luciano Spinelli © Luciano Spinelli © Luciano Spinelli

Nikolay Polissky Creates Towering, Handcrafted Structures Across Russia

Born in 1957 in Moscow, artist Nikolay Polissky creates impressive, handcrafted structures in the middle of Russia's vast landscapes. Mostly carried out in the town of Nikola Lenivets -- located 200 km from the Russian capital --  his works are built entirely by the area's residents, using local materials, such as branches, trunks and wooden tables. Traditional construction techniques are used as a starting point for the projects. 

His work is inspiring not only because of its imposing form, but also because he managed to re-activate a semi-abandoned village through art and architecture, involving residents in the creative process and transforming the region into a sort of open cultural center. Since 2003, his work has been part of Archstoyanie, the largest Land-Art festival in Russia.

Gates of Perm (2011). Image © Tima Radya Hyperboloid / Volcano (2009). Image Courtesy of Nikolay Polissky Lighthouse (2004). Image Courtesy of Nikolay Polissky Media tower (2002). Image Courtesy of Nikolay Polissky

The Top 10 Most Impactful Skylines

Emporis, a German company that collects and distributes information on construction and the built environment, has released a ranking of the world’s 100 most visually impactful skylines, using statistical analysis to address a topic often made frustratingly subjective by civic pride. 

To create the rankings, Emporis used data from its archives to determine the number of high-rise buildings in the cities it studied, and applied a points system that gave each building a numerical value determined by the number of floors it has. To standardize their ranking process, the points system ignores spires and other ornament, and does not include television or antenna towers, masts, bridges, or similar architecture. 

Of the top 10 most impactful skylines, seven are in Asia, while North and South America combined have the other three. Notably, cities filled with rich architectural history fail to make the list, or fall surprisingly low in the rankings; London is number 44, Paris is ranked 66, and Rome does not make the cut. 

To see the top ten skylines, read on after the break, and click here to see Emporis' complete list.