Regardless of any cultural, historical or ideological barriers, Moscow seems intent on adopting an urban transformation strategy that will turn the Russian capital into an attractive place to live not only for its citizens, but also for potential investors and workers.
The focus seems to be to optimise the use of public spaces in an effort to fill in the gaps left by an approach that long ignored the areas between buildings, that is, the areas in which city life plays out.
Moscow of the future is endeavouring to balance the needs of a 15-millon strong metropolis with spaces that are on the scale of people and daily life.
Research done by Jan Gehl and William Whyte has shown that high quality, accessible urban spaces encourage social and cultural exchange, and outdoor activities, setting in place an upward spiral in which the presence of people draws other people into those spaces.
This knowledge has forced a rethink as to how the capital’s outdoor areas are used. The Moskva River, the linked network of canals and waterfronts, the parks and the nearby forest, the roads in the centre, and the ring roads and boulevards are all potential hubs in a network of public spaces encompassing the entire metropolis.
This progressive shifting in mentality is manifest in the numerous projects and competitions focusing on Moscow’s open spaces. Wowhaus, Buromoscow and Asse Architects are some of the practices leading the way in exploring the theme of open spaces, through projects for parks, squares and services.
The Wowhaus architectural practice, founded in 2007 by Oleg Shapiro and Dmitry Likin, has thrown out the paradigm that the urban environment is the sum of its individually designed buildings and squares, replacing it with the idea of open space as the liquid in which a city is immersed.
In shifting the focus from the built environment to open space, the practice’s designs tend to downplay...
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