I heard about Zaryadye Park from a Moscow contact, who mentioned his visit with a friend – when the latter was back in town. He reported that a whole day cannot do this remarkable new space justice, and I was intrigued.
Running the numbers
Opened in September 2017, this is the first major Moscow park in 60 years – and at 480 Mn USD, one of the world’s most expensive. As you may imagine, for such a price tag, ‘park’ doesn’t really do it justice. Its expanse of greenery is only the introduction to all that the location offers.
The ostensibly modest-sounding 13 hectare site makes good use of its central Moscow footprint, by housing much of its content underground. The flowing grassy landscape above, forms roofs for the vaults below, where diverse, themed attractions can be found. This combination of elements has proved highly successful in terms of tourism; with over 1 million visitors attending within the first month of opening. It also made Time’s ‘World’s 100 Greatest Places – 2018’ list.
First of all, we’ll explore the upper greenery.
An important function of the greenery is to showcase four distinct aspects of the natural Russian landscape. As such, visitors will find sections themed to display a forest, wetland, tundra, and steppe. These are more than tokens of course, with over 900,000 trees planted to accent the detail of their appropriate geographies. Neither are they starchy museum spaces, the idea is to enter, explore, and participate. For fun, there is a naturalistic slope – just waiting for the icing of winter to facilitate its role as a sledding run, or to encourage the downhill rolling of giant snowballs.
Additionally, there are smaller spaces for outdoor performance, an amphitheatre and a concert hall, both with organically styled, webbed-glass roofs. Possibly the ‘signature’ element of Zaryadye’s exterior (although it’s all quite distinct) is the broad ‘floating’ walkway. This striking feature slopes up, out of the park and over the Moskva river where it hovers with no supporting column. Then it returns to land as a crooked elbow, formed from two converging overpasses. It’s broad, open span invites strollers up and into mid-air, for an enviable view of the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment building, Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral, whilst the water laps patiently below.
The word ‘central’ doesn’t entirely do the location of the Zaryadye justice. The structure is located on prime real-estate (much to to irritation of rival business developers), next to the Kremlin itself. Building a forest park in the heart of a city? Clearly, a fabulous idea. More than just a Central Park for Moscow, the architects and their clients have taken the idea and allowed it the bloom into one of the city’s must-see attractions.
The paradox here, is that in order to present and frame elements of Russia’s best, the architectural design was by New York’s Diller Scofidio + Renfro with fellow citymates Hargreaves Associates providing specialist landscaping. Both worked alongside Moscow’s branch of urban developers Citymakers to produce something of a cohesive hybrid that hangs together better than any disparate scrapbook of ideas ever could.
We venture beneath the ground to explore the structure further, in next week’s post.