Moscow welcomed its first new park in 50 years with the opening Zaryadye Park in mid-September. Designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Citymakers and Hargreaves Associates, this new public space has been a big draw for Muscovites, with over a million people visiting in the first weeks since its inauguration.
The park has become one of the most important contemporary spaces in Moscow, exhibiting high-quality infrastructure and landscapes, as well as extraordinary views to the Kremlin and the Red Square.
The project is the result of a competition in 2012 organized by the Strelka KB and Sergey Kuznetsov, Chief Architect of Moscow. The winners, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, were selected over contestants including Russian office TPO RESERVE (which came in second place) and Dutch firm MVRDV (who came in third place).
Daliya Safiullina, Partner at Strelka KB, and Manager of the International competition for architecture and landscaping design concept for Zaryadye Park, told ArchDaily: "The challenge was to create a model of a contemporary park for Moscow, because nothing similar had been constructed since 1958. The idea was to generate an open-air museum in which the real exhibition was going to be the skyline of the city, a platform that would allow users to appreciate the beauty of Moscow. In that sense, the flying bridge proposed by the winners became the essence of the park".
Zaryadye got its name by the end of the 15th century, when The Red Square was a big market. It literally means "behind the rows," referring to what extended beyond the market.
At the end of 1940, a base was established for what would have been Stalin's eighth skyscraper. For several years, Zaryadye was the most-delayed construction project of the Soviet Union. In 1967 the architect Dmitry Chechulin finally built the Hotel Russia, which was demolished after less than 40 years of use. Sergey Kuznetsov explains, "After the demolition, the site remained abandoned for 6 years. During Yuri Luzhkov's term as Mayor, the authorities contemplated several commercial real estate development projects, including a proposal by architect Norman Foster. Finally, in 2012, the Moscow government decided to create a multifunctional public park. "
The main concept of the proposal is "Wild Urbanism", a complex idea that strives for the symbiosis between the natural and the artificial, where plants and people have equal importance. Mary Margaret Jones, Senior Principal of Hargreaves Associates, explains, "We wanted to create something fluid and organic, something that would allow visitors to move freely around the park. To achieve this, we brought the paving of the Red Square into the park, and we extended the forest of the park towards the Saint Basil's Cathedral. Creating a hybrid landscape where the natural and the constructed cohabit to create a new type of public space."
Brian Tabolt, Associate of DS + R, adds, "It's about merging things that normally don’t go together, like pavement with vegetation, or the urban landscape with the natural landscape. Zaryadye Park is a superposition of layers where these elements can coexist simultaneously".
In addition, the proposal presents a landscape variety that tries to reflect the natural diversity of Russia; the steppe, the forests, the wetlands and the tundra. Elements inspired by these biomes descend from the northeast of the park towards the southwest and overlap in nodes that contain sustainable artificial microclimates with different programs that can be used throughout the year.
"Zaryadye Park is a good example of public space for cities with extreme climates,” says Peter Kudryavtsev, CEO of Citymakers. “Here you can find close spaces such as pavilions that allow visitors to take refuge and entertainment; semi-closed spaces such as the glass crust or the entrance of the pavilions, where you can be protected from rain or wind; and open spaces such as green esplanades where you can take a walk or play. The park is designed so that a person can enter in the morning and leave at night."
After five years of development, September 9th was the official opening of the park. During the first month of opening, in addition to receiving over one million visitors, more than 50 thousand photos on Instagram have been shared with the hashtag #зарядье (Zaryadye in Cyrillic alphabet). Sergey Kuznetsov says: "It's not just a new public space, the park is something different from the rest of what is in the city, it's modern, daring, experimental ... and people feel proud."