Luzhniki to become a real recreation-and-entertainment park

09 April 2018

The area surrounding the Olympic Complex will acquire children’s playgrounds, race tracks, bike lanes and recreational zones. A new public space has been formed and come to life on Luzhnetskaya Embankment.

Reconstruction of the historical facilities at the Luzhniki Olympic Complex is nearing completion. The Grand Sports Arena is ready for operations and the bulk of the improvement work has been done.

“Luzhniki continues to develop. The main sports arena has been rebuilt and we continue improving the area that surrounds the Olympic Complex. Seven sports grounds and two children’s playgrounds have been created. New life is throbbing there. Thousands of Moscow residents go there not only for sports but also just to relax. We don’t want Luzhniki to be a sports park but we want it to also be a recreation park like other parks throughout the city. This complex should always be filled with life,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

A number of major facilities are being built on the premises, including a rhythmic gymnastics centre. “This is perhaps the best facility of its kind in the world,” the Mayor said, adding that the centre would become a point of interest at the Olympic Complex. Other facilities under construction are an aquatic sports centre, a funicular from Vorobyovy Gory to Luzhniki, and a skating rink. There will also be tennis courts.

The main facilities will be completed either in 2018 or 2019. Sergei Sobyanin explained: “But this will not interfere with the FIFA World Cup. The perimetre itself will be closed and fitted out for the Cup. Whatever is necessary for major competitions will be completed before the end of this year.”

According to Mr Sobyanin, the city is planning for a cultural and sports centre of this kind in each administrative area. “We have done a lot in the city centre and we will now focus on other administrative areas.”

Sergei Sobyanin has also visited the Luzhniki swimming-pool. An aquatic zone, a gym and a boxing academy will be added to the facility.

At Luzhniki, the Mayor also attended a Stroicomplex meeting (Urban Development and Construction Complex).  

The main national stadium  

The Luzhniki Stadium opened in 1956. The total area of the Complex territory is 160 hectares.

The current reconstruction, which began in 2014 and ended in May of this year, is believed to be the most extensive in the history of the complex. This is part of the preparations for FIFA World Cup 2018. Partial reconstructions were carried out for the Olympic Games in 1980 and in the first half of the 1990s.

The Grand Sports Arena at Luzhniki is the key World Cup facility that will host the opening ceremony and match, one of the semi-finals, and the final.

As a result, Moscow has acquired a unique sports facility that meets all world comfort and security requirements. This hi-tech structure is suitable for international athletic events. It will enhance Russia’s sports prestige and inure Russians to sports. 

The exterior

It has been decided to preserve the Grand Sports Arena’s historical exterior. Its walls have been cleaned and restored. The façade is of the same familiar light sandy shade with semi-transparent perforated-metal panels decorated with images of athletes.

However, the most important decoration of all is a three-mode architectural lighting feature on the façade wall. The brightest festive lighting will be switched on for major and the most important events. The second mode is intended for ordinary sports or cultural occasions and the third mode is designed for nighttime.

Maximum comforts

In keeping with FIFA requirements, the revamped stadium seats 81,000 spectators, which is 3,000 more than was previously. Its total area with the rebuilt stands included is 221,000 square metres.

One of the main objectives of these reconstructions was to create a maximally comfortable environment for all categories of spectators. Earlier, about ten percent of all the seats were in poor visibility zones. Now the new two-tier stands are at a steeper angle and closer to the field, which takes care of this earlier problem.

Three hundred seats are intended for people with disabilities and 2,000 seats at the main stand have been reserved for VIPs. The media will use nearly 2,500 seats and a guest service area is designed for 4,500 visitors. One hundred and two luxury corporate boxes have been added as well. These sky boxes will offer improved standards of service, including hot meals.

Two scoreboards on the southern and northern stands will ensure perfect visibility for all spectators. The stands are wine-red with golden specks, a colour chosen by 137,000 Moscow citizens during Active Citizen voting in August 2014.

The number of entrances has been increased to 16 instead of 13, with separate entrances reserved for VIP and VVIP guests on the western stand.     

For greater security, 44 new cascading staircases have been provided by which the spectators will be able to leave the stadium within 15 minutes after a match.

The roof is covered with polycarbonate, a modern, optically transparent material fit for stadiums with natural turf pitches. Polycarbonate’s modular structure is behind its excellent bearing strength, impact resistance and temperature resistance. The roof has an additional 14-metre wide canopy to protect the stands from rain or snow, as required by the FIFA Organising Committee.

The under-roof lighting systems have been modernised to meet the contemporary TV broadcasting requirements, such as high-quality imaging and spectator comfort.

The roof is now a full-blown media screen 40,000 square metres in size studded with myriads of LEDs that can flash teams’ flags, the scores, videos among other things.

The unique turf   

The stadium’s main advantage is its unique natural-grass football pitch meeting all of FIFA’s requirements and technical recommendations.

Underlying the field is a 1.5-metre “pie” of drainage, heating, watering, aeration and agrotechnical monitoring systems, including 35 kilometres of pipes, 35 irrigators, and six 8,000-litre tanks.

Last August, 410 kg of seeds (50 grams per one sq. m.) was used to create a natural turf, with the grass mixture specially selected for the Moscow climate.

The grass sprouted in September 2016 and after it had grown 3 centimetres high, synthetic threads were added to support the roots.

A heating system keeping the temperature at a stable +15° Celsius and a specialised sunlamp system helped the turf to keep green even through the winter. When the weather turned warm, the  protective blanket was removed and more seed was then sown.

Currently the roots of the grass have grown down into the ground around 15-17 centimetres so the pitch is ready for use.

New capacities

The reconstruction has considerably expanded the areas under the stands that now house two workout rooms, locker rooms for athletes, a room for news conferences, an express interview area, a presentation studio with a panoramic view of the field, offices, restaurants, a hospitality zone, and WC facilities.

An observation platform has been outfitted at the top level that can be visited on days free from sports events. Located opposite the famous Vorobyovy Gory viewing point, it affords a view of the city centre, the Novodevichy Convent, Moskva City skyscrapers, and the Moscow University.


There is also a state-of-the-art security system based on international and Russian best practices, including the security system designed for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

The security measures include organising seven checkpoints for vehicles and six pedestrian checkpoints as well as installing 3,300 surveillance cameras, radiation monitoring devices, explosive detectors, hazardous liquids detectors, X-ray introscopes, and car chassis scanners.

The new checkpoints can process over 62,000 people, over 1,000 motor vehicles and over 60 buses per hour, something that will help to avoid congestion on peak days. 

The World Cup

The stadium will host seven FIFA World Cup matches in 2018: The opening match, three group stage games, a quarter-final, a semi-final, and the final. To meet the challenge, 19 facilities totaling 50,300 square metres in total will be built or reconstructed, including an accreditation centre, three training football fields, five entrance control pavilions, three service centres for outdoor sports, two cash-register pavilions, and two service pavilions.

Eight facilities have been completed and a go-ahead for commissioning another six has been granted. These are, among others, the first and second entrance control pavilions on the Alley of Fame, a 4,968 sq. m. accreditation centre, and three training fields.

During the World Cup, Luzhniki will also house a number of temporary tents totaling 116,000 square metres in total, including FIFA and Russia 2018 Organising Committee offices, a ticket office, TV broadcasting and volunteer corps zones, security services, and other things. 

The building and assembly work will take place from August 2017 to April 2018. In addition to all this, outmoded utility lines have been replaced and 216 kilometres of new lines have been buried. An additional power substation, Zolotaryovskaya, has been built to make energy supplies more reliable. Six waste treatment facilities and two sewerage pump stations have also been added.  

The Rhythmic Gymnastics Centre project

Irina Viner-Usmanova’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Centre is a major construction project is being implemented with extra-budgetary funds It’s planned as a rectangular building with a wavy roof like a gymnastic ribbon. With a total floor space of 23,500 sq. m., it will have five levels above ground and one underground.

The centre will include:

  • an arena for competitions with stands for 4,000 spectators;
  • a medical rehabilitation centre and a doping control facility;
  • a hotel for 115 athletes;
  • a spa;
  • media and VIP rooms;
  • catering facilities.

A relocatable stage can be installed on the arena to serve as a venue for concerts and entertainment.

The centre’s simultaneous capacity is as follows:

  • for training: 150 trainees;
  • for competitions: 250 athletes and 4,000 spectators;
  • for cultural events: 2,500 visitors.

The centre will host high class international competitions and train upcoming Russian gymnasts to become world-class stars.

As of now, 95 percent of in-situ concreting has been completed and 70 percent of utility lines have been buried underground. Metal structures for the roof and the facades have been ordered and the bulk of stands have been assembled. Preparatory work is in progress to install the facades and internal compartments.

The project was launched in 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2018. 

Rebuilding the historical swimming-pool

The all-season swimming pool opened in 1956. However since then, major deterioration has taken place of the concrete swimming-baths, the stands, the brick walls and other utilities.

In 2014, UNK Project won a national tender for the best reconstruction project, suggesting that the historical swimming pool be recreated as a modern multi-purpose swimming centre.  

The new building will retain the main features of the old one and be the same stylistically as the rest of the sports facilities at Luzhniki. An authentic colonnade will be restored and the historical haut reliefs removed from the old building will adorn the wall above the main entrance to the pool zone inside the new structure.

The facility will house:

  • a 50 x 25 m professional sports swimming pool (10 lanes);
  • two 25 x 6 m swimming pool (each with 3 lanes)
  • an indoor water park for family entertainment;
  • sport training rooms;
  • a fitness centre;
  • a spa centre;
  • a boxing club;
  • a children’s sports centre.

The total area will be increased from 19,700 to 56,500 square metres and the water mirror, from 2,000 to 6,000 square metres.

The centre is designed so as to be able to cope with a capacity of 10,000 visitors per day, both athletes and recreationists, including children (before athletes under the age of 16 were not admitted).   

The old building had been dismantled by the end of 2014. Currently, earth-moving work has been completed as has waterproofing. The reinforced concrete framework has been built as well. Three hundred and eighty workers are assembling steel structures, fitting out the basement, brick laying for walls and compartments, and carrying out other needed work too.

The completion date is expected to be in 2019.

In 2015, an outdoor summer aquatic facility for 1,000 visits per day was launched. It includes two outdoor swimming pools, one for sports and the other for leisure,  a sand-covered fitness ground, a sauna, a beach volleyball ground, sunbeds, a playground and also a cafe.

Building a funicular 

A private investor will build a 790-metre ropeway between Luzhniki and the green zones on the opposite side of the Moskva River (Vorobyovy Gory, Gorky Park). It is planned to install nine piers (supporting structures) on both banks. Right now, technological equipment is being assembled on the rebuilt foundations on Vorobyovy Gory. The facility will have three stations – Kosygina Street, Vorobyovskaya Embankment, and Luzhniki – each boasting architectural and designer solutions of its own.

Thirty-five gondolas (including those with bike fasteners) for eight passengers each will be able to transport 1,600 people per hour. Each ride will last five minutes.

In winter, athletes will be able to use four-seat chairs plying the shorter route between the upper and middle stations on Vorobyovy Gory.

Begun in 2016, the project is to be completed in 2018. 

Playgrounds and workout sites

Luzhniki has two original playgrounds for smaller children: The Ship and MultiSports.

The former, 2,000 square metres in area, is, logically, on the embankment and has 24 play structures, including spring riders, rope swings, and many others. The latter, also 2,000 square metres in total, is next to the Tennis Academy and has, apart from sandpits for tiny tots and seats for accompanying adults, 23 play structures, such as swings, playground slides, climbing frames, parallel bars, rings, monkey ladders, jumping stands, hammocks, a ping pong table, and other equipment as well.

In addition to all this, the embankment has nine workout grounds for both young and older people. The biggest facility is intended for people with disabilities and has 25 exercisers, including a triple chin-up bar, monkey ladders (some adapted for people in wheelchairs), supports, parallel bars, kangaroos, twirls, hand-bikes, plus  other things too.

Site improvements

Luzhniki is projected as Russia’s main sports park, with its entire area, 160 hectares in total, slated for improvements.

In September 2016, an improvement project was completed on the 3-kilometre-long Luzhnetskaya Embankment that became more resident-friendly with new bike and roller lanes, a racetrack, and a pedestrianised walk.

Now the embankment has a new waterside public area  with specially treated larch steps (good for sports, sunbathing, reading, or just admiring the river) instead of the former granite descent. There are 170 new benches, 118 rubbish bins, 50 bike racks, 300 street lamps, and 30 navigation desks.

Prestizhnaya Alley and the Northern and Southern sports nuclei have been beautified.

Eight Central Square fountains have reacquired their original look. Builders used the original red granite, the same as on the 1956 fountains, for the facing and reproduced the architectural elements as closely to the original as possible. However, the equipment has been replaced in full, with lighting added, and now the fountains produce a striking effect after dark. In the spring of 2016, 6,000 roses were planted around the fountains.

The reconstruction of another two fountains – one opposite the Rossiya State Central Concert Hall and the Stone Flower – is nearing completion. A dry fountain is being built on the square between the swimming pool and the exit from Vorobyovy Gory metro station.

Improvements have been completed at the Alley of Fame, the unique outdoor museum of Russian sports displaying monuments to Eduard Streltsov, Lev Yashin, and many others, as well as the Olympic Fire Bowl and Mischa the bear from the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, and a memorial to UEFA Champions League finals that Luzhniki hosted in 2008.

More than 1,050 new trees, 53,000 shrubs and 14,000 square metres of flower beds have been planted on the premises. A new lighting system has been installed as have new hardscape elements and navigation signs. All improvements are due to be completed this autumn.

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