As part of the series of new urban developments sprawling up in Moscow, Zaryadye Park is the latest to open this month in a bid to improve the city’s green space. Commissioned by Moscow Chief Architect, Sergey Kuznetsov, an international consortium led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Hargreaves Associates and Citymakers has designed this new public space that encourages integration and celebrates the amplitude of regions across Russia by artificially emulating each of their climates: the steppe, the forest, the wetlands and the tundra.
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.
At last year's Moscow Urban Forum, Charles Renfro discussed Diller Scofidio + Renfro's design for Zaryadye Park in Moscow. Located in the heart of the city, the park employs Wild Urbanist principles, which seek to emulate Russia's diverse landscapes – tundra, steppe, forest, and wetland – against a backdrop of architectural landmarks that includes the Kremlin, Red Square, and St. Basil’s Cathedral.
In a 2010 interview, the critic and historian Grigory Revzin complained that Muscovites wishing to "walk in parks and get pleasure from the city" would have to "come out into the streets" before anything was done. Hoping that architects would respond to the problem, one of Revzin's suggestions was a park to replace the site of Hotel Rossiya, which had become overgrown since being abandoned in 2007. This wild area in the city centre was, in fact, a harbinger of what is to come: Zaryadye Park, Moscow's first new park in 50 years, which the American design studio Diller Scofidio+Renfrowon the international competition to design in November 2013.
UPDATE: The video detailing Diller Scofidio + Renfro's winning proposal for Moscow's Zaryadye Park has just been released. In it the three partners discuss the central idea behind the proposal - "Wild Urbanism" - in which plants and people are of equal importance and "nature and architecture are merged into a seamless whole." They explain how each of Russia's varied landscapes - its tundra, steppe, forest, and wetland - will be imported to the park and overlapped into "enfolded nodes" that will house sustainable, artificial micro-climates that will allow for year-round use of the park.
The consortium led by the New York-based firm, beat out an impressive shortlist. Russian-led TPO “Reserve” came second and MVRDV third.
Zaryadye Park, 13 acres of land just a minute’s walk from the Kremlin and the Red Square, is hoped to “project a new image of Moscow and Russia to the world.” See the renderings from Diller Scofidio + Renfro's winning proposal for Moscow's new and most important public space, after the break...
In the 20th century, it was going to be the site of the world's tallest skyscraper, but it became the world's largest hotel. In 2006, the hotel was replaced with a fence, the largest advertising space in all of Europe, enclosing acres of undeveloped, highly valuable land. In 2014, it will become Moscow's first - and most important - park in over 50 years.