April 26, 2012
A long term strategic development plan is needed for Moscow to answer the challenges of expansion and to increase its international role.
In collaboration with Greg Clark
Following 18 years of Yury Luzhkov Mayoralcy, the new Moscow Government team is preparing a new kind of strategic plan for the future of Russian capital. For decades Moscow remained a state within a state and a ‘terra incognita’ for foreign investors. The new team is starting to break with this old cliché, showing openness for new ideas and a commitment to positioning Moscow as an emerging world city and international financial center.
As a result of previous planning policies, the urban structure of Moscow faces challenges and inbalances. Nearly 40% of working places are concentrated within the densely built center, in 4.5 km radius around The Kremlin. At the same time two thirds of the Moscow population resides in the outskirts of the city, and more than a million people commute daily into the city from the wider Moscow Region. This causes excessive congestion in the city center, with serious transportation, ecological and social consequences. The Moscow Authorities, as well as residents, express concern at the level of density.
These factors explain the recent decision to create ‘Greater Moscow’, an enlarged city with a much larger municipal boundary, announced in June 2011 by The President of Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev. The territory of The Russian Capital will grow almost by 2.5 times. The city will expand to a line which is 60 kilometers southwest if its center. This will make it possible to move some of the functions concentrated in the historical center to newly planned areas within the enlarged city.
Map of the new Moscow boundary expansion
According to the new draft plan of Moscow Government, Moscow’s new territories will be split into three zones: the closest to ‘old Moscow’ zone for partial urbanization, zone of local urban complexes in the natural environment, and a larger recreation zone. Also, the new territories will house the government compound, financial and business centers, research and innovation areas, university, medical, recreation and tourist clusters.
The strategy and master-plan for Moscow’s future development within the extended borders have to be elaborated by the end of 2012.
An international competition for the concept of the Moscow agglomeration development was launched in early 2012 to collect a maximum number of variants for the development of Moscow in its new boundaries. Ten international teams were shortlisted from 67 primary applications of the best world architects and urban planners. Among them such companies as OMA, L’AUC, McAdam Architects, and the leading Russian institutes and centers for urban development. In the next six months they have to decide how the development of new and existing territories of Moscow can be linked together.
In the meantime, not all are optimistic about The Greater Moscow project. The southwest direction of expansion and the way of decision-making are widely criticized by media and independent experts. Contrary to many public announcements, the results of an Urban Land Institute Advisory Panel’s research (held in Moscow in early December 2011) did not point to Moscow being an extraordinarily dense city, but urged the need to draw more attention to better land-use planning, and to public transportation improvement. Another puzzling issue is that it is not clear how the results of the international competition for the concept of the Moscow agglomeration extension could be linked to the strategy of socio-economic development of the city, which should be completed by autumn 2012.
A long term strategic plan is needed for Moscow to answer the challenges of expansion and to increase its international role. Such kind of plans have been developed in London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, and many other established and emerging world cities.
A strategic plan is a means for Moscow to create the agenda to be a world city based on the three pillars of macro reform and attractive business climate, better infrastructure and land use, and enhanced position, identity, and visitor experience. This plan will shape the development of Moscow for the next 20 years, and the identity and reputation of Moscow for the world beyond Russia. This is good time for a new plan for Moscow. As Shanghai, Sao Paulo, and other world cities emerge into a world that wants to do business with them, there is great appetite to see Moscow taking its place and becoming Russia’s global stage.
Image: Dieter Karner