Tatyana Guk: “It is impossible to teach everyone, but you can set rules and teach how to execute them”
Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning of Moscow, Tatyana Guk, who oversees work on improvements in the capital, told the Archcouncil portal what new design codes will appear on the streets.
Please tell us how the activities of the Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning directorates, those which deal with the architectural and aesthetic appearance of Moscow, are organized.
In the section of comprehensive improvements there are two directorates — Architectural and aesthetic appearance and public services for comprehensive improvements. The first is engaged in developing strategies for improvement — city programs in various areas in which the Committee prepares technical requirements for developers and provides expert work. For example, the directorate acts as the technical customer to develop the architectural and aesthetic concepts of city streets and roads.
The second directorate is engaged in the provision of government services in regard to comprehensive improvements, including, in coordinating design projects of signs and performing the preparation of color passports of building facades. As part of inter-agency cooperation the committee also approves design projects for advertisement structures, if it relates to roof-top structures, media facades and unique sites. Additionally, within the framework of the layout of advertising objects the committee negotiates their location in the city: there are approved types of structures and areas where they may be located, taking into account pedestrian and automobile traffic.
Are design projects for the placement of outdoor cafes also approved by the Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning?
Yes, but now we are coming to the conclusion that the standard designs for the furnishings of outdoor cafes — umbrellas, sunshades, chairs, awnings (assuming that it will be a factory produced pergola construction) — will not require approval. Individual solutions will be considered as part of the Regulation commission of the Architectural Council. We are moving toward the establishment of rules and requirements, and better control of their implementation by the executive authorities.
And who conducts the Arts Council?
The Architectural and aesthetic appearance directorate. The Arts Council is an important and necessary tool to gather expert opinions on a wide range of issues — from architectural lighting, comprehensive landscaping and the creation of pedestrian areas, to the design of individual elements of the urban environment. Unfortunately, the documents often come to us too late, when we have already made the work documentation, but it should come at the concept stage, so that it would be possible to take into account the recommendations and to correct errors. After all, architects should not just draw pretty pictures, but also think of how it will work in all manners — go, move, light up, be powered, collect rainwater, and so on.
Which Moscow streets have already received their design code within the scope of architectural and aesthetic concepts developed by the Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning?
According to the technical requirements which the committee prepared, work on these concepts is carried out in three stages. The first stage has already been completed: 65 concepts for streets within the Garden Ring, including the ring itself. Now the control authorities are already working based on this material, and orders to dismantle the structures that do not meet the new standards are being issued. At the second stage, a number of streets within the Third Ring Road will be under development. Currently there are 43: the architectural and aesthetic concepts will be published before September 1 of this year.
Are differences with the general rules possible?
Of course, there are times when we understand that the decision that was made previously is not covered by the rules — this is the only possible one. There has been a tendency to examine the entire building or even a complex of buildings as a whole. Just recently we saw a cultural heritage site where the sign covered architectural elements. The building is in a pseudo-Russian style, with stone carvings all over — on pylons, windows, and ledges. The design which the franchisor of the signs made previously, on the contrary, fits very organically even while overlapping architectural details, and we also do not see anything worrisome in it — there just will be additional approval.
Market representatives come to us for some concept clarifications, because within the scope of our work we cannot always take into account the full range of space functionality which may occur in buildings. For example, the requirements for the placement of information structures for banks and stores are different. Therefore, we show a certain universal model which can be supplemented for a specific functional purpose with details: bracket for stores or digital display of exchange rates for banks. In such cases, we perform approvals on an individual basis.
And who directly develops standards?
The Chief Architectural and Urban Planning Administration of the Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning (GlavAPU) in this case is the sole provider of services, but we also bring in experts from different fields in order to create a comprehensive approach to this issue.
One of the areas of work of the Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning in regard to the capital’s design-code is the improvement of the address navigation system...
Yes, this work has been going on since last year. The client is the Department of Housing, Utilities and Amenities of Moscow; they have a big contract for the creation of a unified navigation system in Moscow. We have prepared proposals for the typefaces, color palette, and pictograms which should be used as part of the navigation. We did this with the assistance of the expert community of course.
Is it possible to see how this looks in Moscow already?
Currently the new types of directional signs are appearing in the Presnensky and Arbat districts. There are several variants. Right now there are two types of directional signs for address reference — at the beginning of the street, two types of directional signs for pedestrian areas where we make them more “historic,” and others for the rest of the city. Pictograms have appeared on signs for the first time, and within the Garden Ring — transliteration. I believe this is a breakthrough for the city: we have started to focus on including foreign tourists. In addition to house signs, street signs have appeared which identify the direction to social facilities, cultural objects and administrative authorities.
But the most important achievement in my opinion is the standard size of signs (dimensions, font), which now vary according to the scale of the territory. If you go to Bolshaya Sadovaya and take a look at the new directional sign across the street — you’ll see that from the opposite side the sign is clearly readable. The standard size has been greatly increased for areas on the periphery of the city as well because signs must be targeted not only for pedestrians, but also for passing motorists.
The Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning prepared for publication Albums of standard designs for the improvement of city roads. How will they work in the city?
In all new improvement standards the main principle is included — the priority of pedestrian movement which must be unobstructed. This can be done not only by clearing a field, but also by setting the direction of movement, forming recreation areas, separating this area from bicycle paths and from roadways, and placing small architectural forms. That is, standards are planning principles plus details, in the implementation of which we also get an environmental effect and the effect of cleaning and maintaining the territory.
I would not consider the Albums of standard designs as a sort of dull document, with the help of which we will do the same everywhere. It’s more of a universal set of solutions that can be applied at various urban sites. For example, with the new standards the small parks on Taganskaya Square and Oruzheyniy Lane were reconstructed. There is already a technical sidewalk which allows for the area to be safely cleaned, preventing soil runoff onto the roadway and the pollution of the lawn with chemicals. Incidentally, the same technical sidewalk in some cases makes it possible to prevent unauthorized parking.
I should add that the solutions that are being offered in the albums can not necessarily be implemented today. This is because they require changes in production technology — for example, tactile coatings in the city. For persons of limited mobility concrete paving is now used with guides or warnings which are painted in oil paint. We propose that it should be painted either in bulk, or use other materials, such as granite paving or modern plastics.
Where can the results be seen?
Currently work is being done on Kashirskoye and Varshavskoye highways, and on Volgogradskiy Prospekt. This was the order of the Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin to the municipal services network: in the reconstruction of radial roads it is necessary to create a space that is also comfortable for residents. These are questions of the placement of stops, transfer of residents, access to underground walkways, traffic across the road, and adjacent courtyard and green spaces. Thus, reconstruction of radial roads should be completed with comprehensive improvement works.
Standard solutions of improvement — this means, similar to each other?
Not at all. From one piece of fabric two different dresses can be sewn — and so it is here, it all depends on the imagination of the designer. And the album more establishes certain requirements for a comfortable environment — so that flows of traffic do not get crossed, the space for pedestrian traffic does not get cluttered, so that any resident with limited mobility had the opportunity to cross the intersection or a partake in leisure, and so on.
Often there is interest in an assortment of plants, in particular, planting fruit trees along roads. Is this possible?
The assortment of plants used in the city is fixed in the Moscow city building code 1.02-02, we have not invented anything new. In the albums, questions of landscaping are covered more in terms of technical parameters for different types of planting: attention is focused on the architectonics of the tree canopy, its density, the size of the mass, the plants need for light.
At the same time, given the environmental conditions of roads (gas pollution, soil and hydrological conditions), the appropriate assortment will be chosen. After all, there are plants resistant to weathering and soil pollution, and there are non-resistant ones. That which will grow well in inner streets, will not always grow on the main roads, but somewhere, on selected areas, maybe there will be apple trees too.
What else does your directorate do?
A lot of things... For example, we are currently working on a big program for festive decoration, including architectural lighting. In general, our main task is to formulate universal principles, a certain legal field in which everyone will be comfortable to work in. It is impossible to teach everyone, but you can set rules and teach how to execute them — we are moving in this direction now.