Last week, ten diverse groups of designers, academics, urban design specialists and engineers were selected by the Architectural Department of Moscow City Government as a shortlist for the Moscow Agglomeration Masterplan Strategy. This colossal scheme will expand the boundary of the Russian capital to incorporate 148,000 hectares of land to the south-west of the city, with the ten shortlisted partnerships presented with the task of preparing concept ideas within the next six months. These concepts will then be placed on public display following a review in September 2012.
Seventy design groups entered the competition and the ten finalists have been drawn from a wide variety of specialist spheres and geographical locations. The shortlist includes: Moscow Architectural Institute with Devereux Architects; OMA with Strelka Institute, Project Meganom, Siemens AG and McKinsey & Company; Professor Andrey Chernihov with Juul-Frost Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, McAdam Architects and Ginzburg Architects; and Ricardo Bofill with Barcelona Regional Agency for Urban Development.
Certain practices have proven their worth in the city before, with McAdam Architects conceptualising the masterplan for a 15,000-strong town of Nikolo-Khovanskoye in the Moscow region, Wilmotte & Associes completing the restoration of the Kremlevesky in Moscow’s Red Square and OMA designing the highly successful Strelka Institute with whom they are entering the competition. There is a chance that the Moscow City Government may not select a complete group as the stand-alone winner but cherry-pick the strongest individuals and practices on the shortlist and form a new collective of superior thinkers.
Professor Brian Evans, Partner at Gillespies, said: “We have been privileged to work in Moscow for 7 years now, collaborating with Group Ark of Moscow, Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh and John Thompson & Partners (JTP) London. When the competition was announced we immediately understood the need for strategic thinking at the regional level, and were also delighted when Prof Larry Beasley agreed to join us to provide strategic planning advice. This is a prestigious project in a highly competitive field. We are in Moscow now for preliminary meetings with Moscow City and with Group Ark, our Moscow partners.”
Projects of this mammoth scale are not uncommon in Russia as Tanya Kalinina, Director at McAdam Architects, told WAN: “St Petersburg was built from scratch by Tsar Peter the Great at the beginning of the 18th century, and became the Imperial Capital of Russia for almost 200 years. After the revolution central government bodies were moved (back) to Moscow.
“During the 20th century Moscow itself was built in waves of identifiable mass construction as its population grew - industrial and social developments of the twenties and thirties, housing and ministries of the Stalinist era, mass housing of the sixties, and recent development of new suburbs, increased the population of the concentrically-planned city to over 10 million inhabitants in recent years. This situation, together with a tenfold increase in private transport has brought the city to a complete standstill.
“The scale of the problem is such that the way forward has to be radical. It is not feasible to adapt the existing city and infrastructure to resolve the problem and it is completely impracticable to continue its concentric growth. New Moscow will require a new urban direction whilst providing a sustainable and robust planning model and a geographical addition to the Russian Capital which acts as a symbol of development for a New Russia.”