Lead ArchitectsJulia Burdova, Olga Aleksakova, Alyona Guk, Olga Vlasenko, Natalya Remizova, Serafima Telkanova
When it comes to urbanism these days, people’s attention is increasingly turning to Moscow. The city clearly intends to become one of the world’s leading megacities in the near future and is employing all necessary means to achieve its goal, with the city government showing itself to be very willing to invest in important urban developments (though not without some criticism).
A key player in this plan has been the Moscow Urban Forum. Although the forum’s stated goal is to find adequate designs for future megacities, a major positive side-effect is that it enables the city to organize the best competitions, select the best designers, and build the best urban spaces to promote the city of Moscow. The Forum also publishes research and academic documents to inform Moscow’s future endeavors; for example, Archaeology of the Periphery, a publication inspired by the 2013 forum and released in 2014, notably influenced the urban development on the outskirts of Moscow, but also highlighted the importance of combining urban development with the existing landscape.
In 2010, following the election of a new mayor, the Moscow city government began to work towards a comfortable urban environment in which citizens would feel like residents rather than mere users of the city. The emphasis was on creating public spaces in which Muscovites could fulfill their potential and feel that the city was their home.
Gorky Park was at the forefront of the changes. During the 1990s, the "Central Park of Culture and Leisure" accumulated a collection of fairground rides and became a sort of amusement park popular principally among visitors from other cities; Muscovites hardly went there. Three years ago, the city government made it their mission to overturn the park's image and bring Moscow's residents back. A full-scale reconstruction and restoration began in spring 2011.
Today, Gorky Park is a new level of urban space – one centered around people and boasting a scrupulously conceived infrastructure. All of the changes were aimed at creating a comfortable environment for life - for strolling and sport, work and study, culture and leisure. Moreover, in a short time the park has developed an effective economic model whereby it receives one half of its budget from the city and generates the other half itself.
SVESMI, an unassuming studio based in central Rotterdam, is at the center of a dauntingly complex project that may eventually see the renovation of 448 dilapidated and disused branch libraries in Moscow. Architects Anastassia Smirnova and Alexander Sverdlov balance their time between Rotterdam, which acts as their design studio, and Moscow from which, alongside architects Maria Kataryan and Pavel Rueda, they oversee the project at large. Faced by the potential challenge of reimagining over 450 public 'living rooms' spread across the Russian capital and demanding unusually high levels of spatial articulation and social understanding, the Open Library project is also unwinding the hidden narrative of Moscow’s local libraries.