Centrally located steps from St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square and the Kremlin, Zaryadye Park sits on a historically charged site saturated by Russia’s collective past and evolving aspirations. As a historic palimpsest, the 35-acre site has been populated by a Jewish enclave in the 1800’s, the foundations of a cancelled Stalinist skyscraper, and the Hotel Rossiya — the largest hotel in Europe until its demolition in 2007. For five years, this central piece of Moscow real estate—encompassing a quarter of downtown Moscow— remained fenced as plans to extend its use as a commercial center by Norman Foster were underway. In 2012, the City of Moscow and Chief Architect Sergey Kuznetsov organized a design competition to transform this historically privatized, commercial territory into a public park.
As the first large scale park to be built in Moscow in the last fifty years, Zaryadye provides a public space that resists easy categorization. It is at once park, urban plaza, social space, cultural amenity, and recreational armature. To achieve this simultaneity, natural landscapes are overlaid on top of constructed environments, creating a series of elemental face-offs between the natural and the artificial, urban and rural, interior and exterior. The intertwining of landscape and hardscape creates a ‘Wild Urbanism,” introducing a new offering to compliment Moscow’s historically formal, symmetrical park spaces. Characteristic elements of the historic district of Kitay-Gorod and the cobblestone paving of Red Square are combined with the lush gardens of the Kremlin to create a new park that is both urban and green. A custom stone paving system knits hardscape and landscape together— generating a blend rather than a border — encouraging visitors to meander freely. Zaryadye Park is the missing link that completes the collection of world-famous monuments and urban districts forming central Moscow.
Traversing between each corner of the park, visitors encounter terraces that recreate and celebrate four diverse, regional landscapes found in Russia: tundra, steppe, forest and wetland. These zones are organized in terraces that descend from northeast to southwest, with each layering over the next to create a total of 14,000 square meters of enclosed, programmed spaces integrated into the landscape: nature and architecture act as one. Visitors can enjoy a river overlook cantilevering 70 meters over Moscow River, media center, nature center, restaurant, market, two amphitheaters and a philharmonic concert hall (scheduled for completion in Spring 2018).
The sectional overlay also facilitates augmented microclimates that seek to extend the typically short park season. These passive climate-control strategies included calibrating the typography of one of the park’s landscaped hills and the amphitheater’s glass crust to leverage the natural buoyancy of warm air. As a result, wind is minimized, plants stay greener longer, and the temperature rises gradually as visitors ascend the slope. Warmer air is retained during the colder months, while in the summer, motorized glass panels open to expel heat through the roof. These natural zones provide places of gathering, repose and observation, in concert with performance spaces and enclosed cultural pavilions. In addition to these programmed destinations, a series of vista points provide a frame for the cityscape to rediscover it anew. Each visitor’s experience is tailor made for them, by them.
Zaryadye Park drew over 10 million visitors within its first year of opening. It has played a key role in Moscow’s transformation into a cosmopolitan city: it was recognized in 2018 among the World’s Greatest Places by TIME Magazine and contributed to Moscow’s naming as the world’s leading city destination by the World Travel Awards in 2019.
Founded in 1981, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) is a design studio whose practice spans the fields of architecture, urban design, installation art, multi-media performance, digital media, and print. With a focus on cultural and civic projects, DS+R’s work addresses the changing role of institutions and the future of cities. The studio is based in New York and is comprised of over 100 architects, designers, artists and researchers, led by four partners—Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, Charles Renfro and Benjamin Gilmartin.