A Wilderness in the City: How Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Zaryadye Park Could Help Fix Moscow

Moscow’s proposed park, that is using a naturalised “theme park culture” as a model, has to withstand the criticism of being as artificial as its environment, not that the idea is without precedent i.e botanical gardens around the world have been using this  “ecological theme park-ism” for years, its just how its implemented that has changed, with technologies that provide control of the environment and the use of process based horticulture to grow these artificial renditions of natural habitats, which by their nature, have to be configured and edited to fit into limited space, the idea of wild design is fraught with design decisions of what to put in and what to leave out.

From archdaily

 

Courtesy of Zaryadye Park
In late 2013, Diller Scofidio + Renfro won first prize in the international competition to design Zaryadye Park, Moscow’s first new park in 50 years. The project is a headliner in a series of high-profile schemes that aim to improve the city’s green space, including the renovation of Gorky Park and the recently revealed plans for the Moscow River. This article, originally published by The Calvert Journal as part of their How to Fix Moscow series examines how DS+R’s urban “wilderness” will impact the city.

In a 2010 interview, the critic and historian Grigory Revzin complained that Muscovites wishing to “walk in parks and get pleasure from the city” would have to “come out into the streets” before anything was done. Hoping that architects would respond to the problem, one of Revzin’s suggestions was a park to replace the site of Hotel Rossiya, which had become overgrown since being abandoned in 2007. This wild area in the city centre was, in fact, a harbinger of what is to come: Zaryadye Park, Moscow‘s first new park in 50 years, which the American design studio Diller Scofidio+Renfro won the international competition to design in November 2013.


Courtesy of Zaryadye Park
A popular idea in the early stages of the park was that it could be made up of plants that appear all over Russia. Diller Scofidio+Renfro took this further, proposing that native flora be included, but as part of four artificial microclimates that mimic the landscape typologies specific to Russia: the steppe, the forest, the wetland and tundra. The principle behind this is similar to Park Russia, the proposed theme park south of Moscow, which promises to represent every region of the country in one space. Zaryadye’s microclimates will be maintained at consistent temperatures throughout the year by means of heating and cooling technologies, making Russia’s ”wilderness” into both an attraction and an exhibition.

Courtesy of Zaryadye Park
Diller Scofidio+Renfro plan to meet halfway between the wild and the urban, and create a periphery in the centre of Moscow. This is appropriate for the area of Zaryadye which, located on the edge of the river in one of the oldest districts of Moscow, within 300 metres of Red Square and the Kremlin, is a suburb of the old city, but in today’s city centre. The term “wild urbanism”, used in Diller Scofidio+Renfro’s proposal, is described by the firm as “an opportunity to leave the city, and at the same time be closer to it”. Zaryadye Park isn’t the first project by the firm that explores the intersection between nature and the city. Diller Scofidio+Renfro are responsible for the High Line in New York, a singular linear park, 1.45 miles long, built on an abandoned freight-railway.

 

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Strelka Institute: Urban Design vs. Dystopia – Rem Koolhaas

Within the framework of a Russian “urban renaissance” a continuation of the critique of current  architecture and its lack of urbanity now radically implemented in a research and and educational program led by Rem Koolhass and OMA amongst other luminaries of the ‘architecture’ profession somewhat ironically in that the critique of complicity in the depletion of meaning in the face of individualistic and materialistic control should find a place in contemporary Russia where the intensity of oligarchic materialism seems at  a peak! This is well worth watching if you are at all interested in relevance and social impact of our design interventions.

Here an exposition of its intent or context in a video of  and in the expanded article from [polis] on the work of this institute

Introduction to Strelka

Jiang Jung, Strelka instructor and chief editor of Urban China, presenting a study of geopolitics and urbanization in Russia and China.

Strelka is located on the Moscow River in an adapted section of the former Red October Chocolate Factory. It was conceived during a casual conversation among friends at the Venice Biennale 2009, based on shared concern over the course of urban development under former mayor Yury Luzhkov. This group of design and media luminaries — including Alexander Mamut, once known as “the Yeltsin family banker” — inspired Rem Koolhaas and OMA/AMOto develop and implement an educational program aimed at preparing designers to address complex problems in Russia and around the world. The institute was announced at last year’s Venice Bienniale and the first group of students began in October.

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