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Red Square Rounded
Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Hargreaves design a dramatic new park in Moscow.
Courtesy DS+R

Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Hargreaves are designing a new park and cultural center just off Red Square in Moscow. The team was selected from a pool of six international teams to create the park, which will include a new City of Moscow Museum and the site of a future concert hall.

Drawing on the national significance of the site, the design evokes the four predominant Russian landscapes: the steppe, tundra, forests, and wetlands. The evocation of these places is not meant to be overly familiar however. Rather, the designers deliberately blend and confound expectations to create a “surreal” park experience, according to principal Charles Renfro. The pavers from Red Square, for example, will be pulled into a densely planted birch forest, a blend of natural and artificial the designers are calling “wild urbanism.”


Given the harsh Moscow climate, the designers are also planning a number of sheltered areas that blur the line between indoors and out. These include a number of hybrid building/landscapes with glass roofs to take advantage of solar heat gain (when it is sunny) while providing views to surrounding landmarks like the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral. These pavilions don’t have doors, emphasizing their public nature. “We want the spaces to be comfortable year round with seasonally adjusted microclimates,” said Renfro. The park will also include restaurants and some retail.


In addition to the City of Moscow museum, the north end of the park includes a number of historic churches, all that remains from the ancient neighborhood that previously stood on the site. “There’s a lot of archaeology to be done on the site,” said Renfro. These historical remnants will be integrated into the museum or interpreted in the design of the park.


Given recent tensions between the United States and Russia, as well as ongoing human rights controversies in the country, the commission did not come without some soul-searching on the part of this avant-gardist firm. “Ultimately we found the brief to be compelling and we believe Moscow’s mayor has a strong commitment to improving the city’s public realm,” said Renfro.

The architect for the concert hall has yet to be determined. The park itself is being fast-tracked for completion in two years.

Alan G. Brake