A Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed park in Moscow is getting a lot of attention this week after security cameras caught numerous people having sex within the 35-acre green space on Friday. Zaryadye Park, a massive landscape located across from the Kremlin along the Moskva River, opened last September to the public after a dedication ceremony from Russian President Vladimir Putin. DS+R’s $245 million design was selected out of 90 submissions in an international competition in 2013. In the project description, the architects describe the park as a place featuring “Wild Urbanism,” with intertwining sections of landscape and hardscape, natural and artificial. The parkland includes a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces with a 229-foot cantilevering river overlook, a media center, nature center, restaurant, market, two amphitheaters, and a philharmonic concert hall to come next spring. Charles Renfro, head architect on the project, said he’s thrilled at the park’s overwhelming popularity. “I love this!” he told Artnet in an email. “What freedom our park has brought to Moscow and what tolerance it seems to be engendering from the authorities.” The Moscow Times reported that the city’s chief architect, Sergei Kuznetsov, is apparently okay with the sexual escapades happening within the public park and attributes the unprecedented uptick to the safety and comfort that Moscow offers visitors and residents. Some local lawmakers, however, feel the opposite. Getting caught for having sex in public in Russia means up to 15 days in jail. DS+R’s 14,000-square-meter vision takes up a quarter of downtown Moscow and is the first large-scale park built in the city in 50 years. The site was formerly populated by a Jewish enclave in the 1800s, and once served as the foundations of a never-built Stalinist skyscraper. For nearly 40 years, it was the home of the largest hotel in Europe, the 21-story Hotel Rossiya, until it closed in 2006.
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As preparations and celebrations unfurl for the 2018 FIFA World Cup kick-off in Russia tomorrow, AN has rounded up our favorite up-and-coming projects (and new sports venues) across the country. From James Bond-esque houses and parachute-themed neighborhoods to massive new developments, Russia has provided a playground for high-profile firms to experiment with new forms. Below are some of the wildest and most ambitious projects announced or completed recently, including the venues for the games themselves: Silhouette Location: Moscow MVRDV The modular Silhouette was the result of a design competition that concluded in January of this year and will serve as a “gateway to Moscow” once completed. The 256-foot-tall, mixed-use complex contains a bit of everything—luxury apartments on the top floors and a roof terrace, offices, a sports center, and a grocery store at its base. The pixelated tower block will be clad in a red ceramic tile, and the form takes cues from abstractions of Moscow’s skyline and the constructivist Ministry of Agriculture building across the street. The extrusions and sculptural cuts at the building’s base were carefully planned to create an inviting presence at ground level. Tuschino District Residential Development Location: Moscow Steven Holl Architects and Kamen Steven Holl Architects and Kamen Architecture Art-Group have proposed a new “Parachute Hybrids” typology for their residential development in Moscow’s Tushino district. Drawing inspiration from the site’s history as a former paratrooper airfield, the vertically-oriented slabs and horizontal bases have been run through with circular cuts reminiscent of parachutes drifting through the sky. Tushino will offer residences of every type and target every income bracket, while a new kindergarten and elementary school will serve residents in the development. “Tushino can be an important urban model for 21st century high density living, shaping public open space,” said Steven Holl. “The new building type we have proposed here, inspired by the site’s history, is unique to this place.” Capital Hill Residence Location: Moscow Zaha Hadid Architects The recently completed Capital Hill Residence was the only private house designed by Hadid herself, and the towering form bears all of the late architect’s signature biomorphic curves. Rising above the tree line of the Moscow’s Barvikha Forest like an emerging submarine, the house’s prominent “mast” seemingly floats 72 feet above the landscape and provides sweeping views. The building’s base gradually tapers into the earth below and provides a private area for the homeowner to retreat to. The organic shape of the concrete and dramatic change in elevation is meant to give viewers the impression of something fast-moving and fluid. Admiral Serebryakov Embankment master plan Location: Novorossiysk Zaha Hadid Architects and Pride TPO (Moscow) ZHA will be responsible for revitalizing nearly 35 acres of coastal neighborhood along the Black Sea in Novorossiysk at Russia’s largest port. Residents can expect new opportunities for outdoor leisure activities on the Black Sea, a new port, marina, new piers, and a weaving of the new areas into the city’s existing urban. The master plan will also bring nine new buildings to the waterfront, each representing a different stage in a sequential iterative design, creating a sweeping, wave-like skyline in the process. The one million square feet of new space will be used for a hotel, civic and conference spaces, and offices. The project is moving quickly, and construction on the first phase will begin in the second half of 2019. Ekaterinburg Arena Location: Yekaterinburg PI Arena (2015-2017 renovation) Originally built in 1956 as the multi-sport Central Stadium, Ekaterinburg Arena was recently renovated in 2011. Although it was modernized, the arena’s 20,000-seat capacity meant that another round of work would be needed to bring the arena up to FIFA’s 35,000 seat minimum. Another renovation took place in 2015 that saved the building’s historic facade and increased the stadium's capacity, but temporary seating to bring the arena’s capacity up to 45,000 seats was still needed, and has been installed behind both goal areas for the four World Cup games being played there. Volgograd Arena Location: Volgograd Sport-Engineering A spiraling lattice swirls around the base of Volgograd Arena, one of the stadiums built for this year’s World Cup. The project was built on a budget, but the exposed superstructure, squat single-piece form, and colorful cable roof makes it architecturally distinct from many of the Soviet-era venues made from concrete. After the World Cup, Volgograd Arena will have its seating capacity reduced down to 35,000 and the stadium will become the new home of local football club Rotor Volgograd. Nizhny Novgorod Stadium Location: Nizhny Novgorod OAO Stroytransgaz A light and airy stadium at the fork of two rivers, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium was designed with elements of air and water in mind. The white-and-blue color palette and spacious use of columns to create open-air areas helps lend the stadium a feeling of openness. At night, the building emanates light from the top and sides through its semi-transparent facade. The stadium was commissioned for the 2018 World Cup and was completed last year. The building boasts a 45,000-seat capacity and will be handed over to football club Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod after the World Cup is over.
Admired by Le Corbusier, Moshe Safdie and Denys Lasdun, The Narkomfin building has stood for 86 years. Completed in 1930, the building was designed by Moisei Ginzburg and Ignaty Milinis of the Organization of Contemporary Architects Group (OSA). The block of 45 flats sits on Novinsky Boulevard in central Moscow and is revered by many as a leading precedent for Constructivist architecture. However, despite its listing on the Russian cultural heritage register, the future of the now vacant and decaying structure hangs in the balance. Though only being active for five years while practicing as an architectural association in the former Soviet Union, OSA is considered to be the first Constructivist architecture studio. The Narkomfin provided Ginzburg with the opportunity to test theories on interior layout, form, and communal living. Using reinforced concrete, the building originally comprised a series of apartments elevated on pilotis that were joined to a shared amenity space. It was built for high-ranking employees at the Commissariat of Finance—one of the USSR's most important government offices—and tenants occupied two-story condos, sharing kitchens, washing space, and a kindergarten. Bedrooms face east, allowing the morning sunlight to enter while living spaces face west to make use of the evening light. These luxuries, based on Constructivist theory, were ridiculed by Stalin as bourgeois in 1929, and after trading multiple, negligent owners in the years that followed, the building has severely deteriorated. According to The Moscow Times, past owners had attempted to make a re-development of the building profitable, though the hindrance of poor materials proved a hurdle too many. "There is no easy way to transform Narkomfin into the luxurious apartments beloved by Moscow developers," writes Howard Amos. "After all, who needs tiny apartments with no kitchen?" Moisei Ginzburg's family, however, is committed to ensuring the building's preservation. His son Vladimir contributed efforts toward research and preservation and Moisei's grandson, Alexei, has continued those efforts. According to him, there is enough information on the building available to replicate its form as well as its hallmark coloring (apartment doors are painted black and white in an alternating style). The Narkomfin building is now under the ownership of the company Liga Prava, who won an auction for the building. Director of Liga Prava, Garegin Barsumyan said: “Nothing will change from what was conceived in the original architectural plans,” adding that it will be turned into “business class accommodation.” (What would Ginzburg and Milinis think?) The Moscow Times reports that those plans include demolishing the ground floor and exposing the pilotis (per the original design) as well converting part of the shared amenity space into a cafe. Back in June, Deputy Moscow Mayor Marat Khrusnullin said, “I personally believe these buildings should be left as monuments of how not to build.” The building's architectural significance was also acknowledged by Marina Khrustaleva, an expert on Constructivism and member of the Moscow-based architectural preservation organization Arkhnadzor. “There can’t be anyone else apart from Ginzburg in this project,” she said. Khrustaleva knows The Narkomfin well having traced its past during her career. “All foreign architects ask to go and see Narkomfin," she added. "Their education begins with descriptions of this building in their textbooks. It is of fundamental significance for the architecture of the 20th century.”
Last week another point was scored for social media as the de rigueur disseminator of architecture with the opening of Rem Koolhaas' Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow’s Gorky Park. As new media takes over old, images of Facebook’s new headquarters by Frank Gehry hit Instagram first, the announcement of BIG replacing Norman Foster at Two World Trade Center came through on Wired, and it may have reached its natural apex with the Garage designed by OMA. The first images of the museum flooded Instagram several hours before the June 10 press event—the museum officially opened on June 12. Feeds from photographer Iwan Baan—@iwanbaan—Nadine Johnson PR, and of course Garage’s own account @garagemca, all captured the guts and glory of a building that still seemed to be finishing up construction. A more traditional press event with architect Rem Koolhaas, museum founder Dasha Zhukova, museum director Anton Belov and Garage chief curator Kate Fowle complimented the social media onslaught. The team sat under a giant mosaic from the building’s previous life as the 1960s pre-fabricated restaurant Vremena Goda where OMA cleverly (when are they not?) retained the generous interior spaces and replaced the exterior with a translucent polycarbonate enclosure. Koolhaas, like Gehry, seems to be returning back to his early projects for inspiration, utilizing low-cost materials for both economical reasons and to subtly subvert expectations of taste. Now, that off-the-shelf approach applies to media and storytelling. By revealing the project via a purely visual medium like Instagram, Koolhaas liberates the architectural narrative from the traditional modes of transmission much like he has altered our preconceptions of what types of buildings materials can be used for and to what purpose. These well-known architects are not the only ones taking charge of their own narratives via social media and using those platforms to create exposure that might not otherwise occur. Los Angeles–based Warren Techentin of WTA created the La Cage Aux Folles installation in the courtyard of experimental gallery Materials & Applications. Collective posts on Instagram led to digital coverage in before appearing in print. Leave it to OMA to most seamlessly integrate old and new media (intentionally or not) to build a narrative for the Garage Museum, an institution positioned to transform from an outpost of the art world to one that spawns its own curatorial efforts.
When it comes to a famous landmark, to what extent does locale add to its majesty? An inventive design competition posted to Australian virtual design studio DesignCrowd explored this question with a challenge to designers to reposition the world’s most hyped monuments in all-new locations using high-resolution images. Designers were tasked with making the extrication of the Big Ben look believable, inserting in its place the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, or the Great Wall of China. The first-place accolade went to a Photoshop-aholic who had supplanted Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral in place of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Snagging second place was a seamless overlay of the Roman Colosseum where the Sydney Opera House had once stood. Meanwhile, another designer made the Sydney Opera House seem a natural addition to the Thames riverfront overlooked by the London Eye. Another creative effort saw the Hollywood sign superimposed on the hills along which the Great Wall of China undulates. The design brief, posted to the crowdsourced graphic design bidding site, received 92 designs from 25 designers.
The Architect’s Journal reported, somewhat melodramatically, that a “row” has broken about between MVRDV and the British firm LDA over the redevelopment of the Hammer and Sickle Factory in Moscow. MVRDV’s competition winning scheme, which respected the existing historic factory buildings, has been dumped in favor of LDA’s swoopier Shanghai/Dubai/Where-am-I scheme. Hurt feelings aside, MVRDV might have dodged a dictatorial bullet. Russia isn’t exactly the most stable or desirable or reputation-burnishing place to work these days.
One of Russia’s most distinctive pieces of architecture—the 1920s-era Shukhov Radio and Television tower in Moscow—has skirted what appeared to be its imminent death. Earlier this year, news broke that local authorities planned to dismantle the deteriorating, hyperboloid structure, which was built as a communist communications tower. Russian officials said the structure could possibly be reassembled somewhere else, but preservationists didn't buy it. And, at the time, leading architects from around the world—including Rem Koolhaas, Thom Mayne, Tadao Ando, and Elizabeth Diller—signed a petition to stop the tower’s demolition. It’s hard to know exactly what impact that petition had, but something clearly changed in the past few months. The Moscow Times is now reporting that the city has placed the structure on a federal list of protected heritage sites. While this reportedly stops plans to dismantle or relocate the structure, the Shukhov Tower is not entirely in the clear just yet. The tower has been decaying for years and needs close to $14 million in repairs. "The bureaucratic procedure of drafting documents to preserve buildings … is not a guarantee they will be saved," Sergei Arsenyev, the vice president of the Shukhov Tower Federation, told the Guardian. "If they don't allocate money for saving [the] tower, sooner or later it will die." [h/t ArchDaily]
After racking up a winning medal score at the Sochi Olympics, the host country is set to lose one of its most iconic pieces of architecture. It’s not an Olympic stadium, but the Shukhov Radio and Television Tower in Moscow, which dates back to the 1920’s. The engineer behind the project, Vladimir Shukhov, is credited with creating the world’s first hyperboloid steel structures, an invention that would influence the world of architecture for generations.
According to the Shukhov Tower Foundation, this structure’s 500-feet of latticed steel served as a communications tower for over 80 years in Russia. And it was the first major structure built after the Russian Revolution. But this piece of Soviet history has fallen into disrepair and could disappear entirely.The Moscow Times reports that plans are in place to dismantle the building this year. The Communications and Press Ministry claims that the structure must come down to prevent the risk of it collapsing; they also contend that disassembling the tower might be the best way to protect its future. The Communications Minister told a local Russian paper, “the only possible option for a solution to the problem is a two stage reconstruction and renovation of the radio tower, which stipulates in the first stage its dismantling for the conservation and preservation of elements for later restoration.” These claims, though, are being challenged by preservationists, including Vladimir Shukhov, the great-grandson of the tower’s engineer, who also runs the Shukhov Tower Foundation. He has said the structure is in bad condition, but that it is stable. He also tells AN that the tower is a “unique and very important object of cultural, architectural, and engineering heritage.” He believes that if the tower is dismantled and reassembled elsewhere, “it will no longer be a monument of cultural heritage; it will become an art object, which will look similar to the Shukhov Tower.” [Update: On February 25th, the Russian State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting announced that they had agreed to dismantle the tower. While its demolition seems almost certain, The New York Times reports that Russian officials are expected to make a final decision on the tower’s fate on March 24th. In a last-ditch effort to save the icon, leading architects including Rem Koolhaas, Tadao Ando, Elizabeth Diller and Thom Mayne have signed-on to a petition that urges Russian President Vladimir Putin to save the tower. “Respected President Putin, we are urging you to take immediate steps to assure the preservation of this essential part of Moscow’s heritage, a unique contribution of Russian engineering genius to world culture,” reads the petition, which was written by Jean-Louis Cohen and Richard Pare, and signed by many arts leaders, engineers and historians.]
Moscow’s Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts expansion project, one of Russia's most prominent and contentious building schemes, has spiraled into disarray. Since Foster + Partners’ winning plans to expand and modernize the 101-year-old institution were originally approved in 2009, the development has been confronted with a series of delays including disputes between officials and preservationists. Now, to cap it off, the firm has officially resigned from the project. Recently, Pushkin's chief architect Sergei Kuznetsov publicly proposed that Norman Foster take a more hands-on role and demonstrate his commitment to the $670 million project by traveling to the Russian capital within a month. Kuznetsov’s ultimatum specified that “if Sir Foster, for one reason or another, refuses to participate further in the work, then, most likely, a competition will be held to choose another team, possibly of Western architects.” In response, Foster + Partners issued a statement revealing that the firm had already sent a resignation letter in June to former museum director Irina Antonova, who stepped down in July after running the museum for more than 50 years. The statement claimed that the museum has not involved the firm in the development of the project over the last three years, despite several attempts to continue working with the institution. In a statement sent to The Art Newspaper, the firm said that it had "formally resigned from the Pushkin Museum project and stipulated that their name could not be used in conjunction with the project.” Scheduled for completion in 2018, Foster’s design involved forming a museum complex encompassing the Pushkin Museum and overhauling twelve neighboring mansions. The “Museum Town,” first envisioned by Antonova in 2006, would incorporate a concert hall, a library, and underground facilities. Antonova had asked Foster to design a high quality, 21st century facility.
One of Moscow's most iconic pieces of architecture, the cylindrical home of avant-garde architect Konstantin Melnikov built in the 1920s, is reportedly showing signs of structural damage caused by rumbling from neighboring construction projects and is in danger of being demolished. The New York Times reports that preservationists including Docomomo have sounded the alarm that cracks have been forming in the structure and its foundation. Russian preservation group Archnadzor has filed an appeal to President Vladimir Putin in an effort to save the structure from potential collapse. Currently occupied by Melnikov's granddaughter, Ekatrina Karinskaya, the house has not been officially declared a landmark while an ongoing dispute over ownership plays out. According to the Times, Karinskaya said "the construction is part of a willful plan 'to simply destroy the house.'" Preservationists believe the biggest threat to the house is the underground parking garage at the nearby mixed-use construction project, that could, according to a report posted on Docomomo, cause flooding at the house as the garage structure acts as a dam, blocking the flow of groundwater. Other preservations efforts call for the house to be preserved as a public museum storing all of Melnikov's archival material that is largely inaccessible today. More interior views of the house can be viewed here.