A new green space dubbed Zaryadye Park will be the first public park built in the Russian capital of Moscow in the last 50 years.
Ever since the Soviet Friendship Park was built for the 1957 Festival of Youth and Students, the field of landscape design has remained under-explored in Moscow, a city that typically reflects modern developments in architecture and urban planning.
Zaryadye Park is without precedent not only in Russia but around the world, as similar undeveloped sites in the heart of major capital cities are virtually nonexistent.
The Zaryadye city district is located in downtown Moscow on some of the city's most expensive land. It is situated close to the historic Kremlin complex, the business and trade area of Kitay-gorod and the Red Square.
The site, consisting of 13 acres of empty land, is the largest empty space with as much development potential in all of Moscow. In addition, the site has a fantastic panoramic view of Moscow and a huge mix of people passing through it every day as it connects the Kremlin, the river and the surrounding areas of central Moscow.
Since it was first settled in the 12th century, Zaryadye has always been an important piece of the city's fabric. It was a lively river port until the 16th century, when Moscow became the imperial capital, and the area became home to aristocrats and diplomats, who later moved to the new Russian capital of St Petersburg. By the early 20th century, the area had become a densely built quarter of the old city, but the entire area was then demolished as part of Stalin’s reconstruction of Moscow.
In the 20th century, the site was designated for the development of Moscow's tallest skyscraper but the project failed and, instead, it became home to the world's largest hotel, the Rossiya hotel. In 2006, the hotel was demolished, and the area was surrounded with a concrete fence, turning the site into the largest advertising space in Europe. In January 2012, during a visit to the area, Vladimir Putin suggested to Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin that a park should be created on the site.
The Moscow government launched an international competition looking toward the key architectural practices of recent decades to develop the site. Last week, the six finalists were announced.
The selected teams are Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Hargreaves Associates, Citymakers LLC (from USA and Russia); Gustafson Porter, Sauerbruch Hutton, ARUP (from UK, Germany and Russia); MVRDV, Atrium, Anouk Vogel, Arcadis (from the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland and the US); TPO RESERVE, MAXWAN, Buro Happold, Latz + Partner (from Russia, the Netherlands, International and Germany); Turenscape, AnOtherArchitect (from China and Germany); and West 8, Bernaskoni, Buro Happold (from the Netherlands, Russia and the UK).
The exceptional location, surrounded by rich heritage buildings portraying the history of Russian architecture from the 16th to 20th centuries, will turn the new park into an open-air museum, with the city itself serving as the permanent exhibition.
“Zaryadye should become a principally new kind of park, a park for the 21st century — a role model project, showcasing the latest achievements, methods, materials and technologies in the field,” the project brief states.