Convenience of pedestrians, scenic views and originality of designs: jury members — about the competition for the development of the Moscow River

06 September 2014

September 10 concludes the acceptance of applications for participation in the international competition for the development of the urban planning concept for embankments and areas adjacent to the Moscow River. The Archcouncil portal asked jury members to comment on what are the main criteria they will assess in the projects and what to expect from the competition as a whole.

Sergei Kapkov, Minister of the Moscow Government, Head of the Department of Culture of Moscow


We expect that contestants will offer innovative approaches to the development of waterside areas for recreational purposes, which will allow their potential to be more fully realized — for example, the proximity of the water areas of the Moscow River, panoramic opening up of the city and others.

In addition, in my opinion, communication links along the Moscow River embankment should be strengthened — expand pedestrian routes, bicycle paths, and bolster water modes of transport.

Riverside areas should be integrated into the life of the city — currently these areas are often isolated from other public spaces.

And, of course, we expect to improve the aesthetic perception of riverside areas, both the land and water areas of the Moscow River. The result should be the creation of new types of quality public spaces associated with the Moscow River.

Criteria for the evaluation of projects includes the originality of proposals, their feasibility, focus on the satisfaction of a wide range of people, not just of any particular group, and the aesthetic component.

I should also add that the Department of Culture already has successful experience in the transformation of urban waterfronts. Established in 2013, the pedestrian Krymskaya embankment became the center of the city’s cultural life this summer. Updated embankments in parks have become popular — in Gorky Park, in Fili, in Northern Tushino. And we suggest that the contestants take into account our recent experience in the creation of public spaces along the Moscow River.

Alexander Kibovsky, Minister of the Moscow Government, Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage of Moscow


Many cultural heritage sites — churches, noble estates — were built on hills and oriented toward the river. So for us it is important how these architectural ensembles will be perceived in the landscape of their surroundings and how they will be integrated into the system of river routes.

Accessibility of monuments — this is the priority of all city programs. But in this case we must, first of all, talk about the accessibility of the visual panoramic perception of all monuments located along the line of the Moscow River.

For us it is important that the river routes, except those for pure entertainment, also take on educational functions, so that there is the opportunity to survey cultural heritage sites in all their splendor from all available points of view which open up from the water.

In their concepts participants must provide the opening of such scenic views and carefully calculate them so that the elements of improvement do not create a dissonance with architectural ensembles and individual monuments.

Based on the concept adopted, we should understand how the cultural heritage site should work, how it should be put in order, including in relation to the river routes. For example, historic docks and the stairs from the Naryshkin’s estate to the pier have survived on the territory of Fili park. Their reconstruction could help integrate the estate into tourist river routes.

Today, we mainly talk about public river transport and forget about the existence of private boats. The appearance of sailing yachts on the Moscow River, in my opinion, would add to our city’s attractiveness and novelty, and I if were a contestant I would think about this.

Anton Kulbachevsky, Head of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Moscow


I believe that the international competition for the urban development of areas adjacent to the Moscow River is very important and timely for the city. The Moscow River is the main water artery of the Moscow region, and within the city limits the total length of embankments is 220 km. But at present, unfortunately, less than 20% of riverside areas are for public use, while only 14% are landscaped.

My friend, the famous Danish urbanist Jan Gehl, when he visited Moscow last year and sailed along the Moscow River, noted that the space along the river almost entirely pertains to road transport and is inaccessible to pedestrians, while in London, for example, more than 70% of the space near the water is pedestrian, and in Paris and New York, the figure is about 50%. And not only abroad, but also in many Russian cities that are located on a river, embankments have been renovated in recent years — for example in Samara, Astrakhan, Pskov, Tyumen, and so on.

I hope that talented architects from different countries and cities will participate in the international competition, who will be able to create a new pedestrian space along the Moscow River, make the riverbanks attractive for tourists, pedestrians, as well as for investors. I think interesting architectural designs await us.

I will judge convenience for pedestrians above all else. Including the creation of conditions for different social groups — citizens with limited mobility, cyclists, mothers with strollers. It is essential that everything is comfortable and thought out, descents to the water provided, etc.

In second place of course, as an ecologist, I will evaluate the projects in terms of the creation of green spaces along the water. For example, the possibility of engineering a system of irrigation for plants. It would be good if there are proposals for alternative lighting elements for embankments. And of course the aesthetic aspect is very important. After all, the Moscow River with its beautiful embankments along which parks, cafes, pedestrian zones, and some interesting new sites will be located — the fruits of the architects’ imagination, winners of the competition — should be the hallmark of our capital.


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