Urban Form: Moscow – Luzhniki Studio

The Moscow Luzhniki Studio will attempt to address the need for new urban form (and a new urban logic) in the post-Soviet capital and to propose radical schemes for dealing with its cultural, political and economic complexities. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the market economy has penetrated all realms of Russian life, from informal networks to international relations. While society is generally embracing these changes, the discipline of urban design still lags behind. The planning methods developed during the Soviet years have become outmoded, yet they continue to frame contemporary decisions. This is due in part to the inflexible and layered nature of the local cultural context as well as to the lack of alternative design methods. Production of new methods or typologies has yet to catch up to the social changes.The site is still the territory of two industrial plants, with structures dating from the 1900s to the 1970s, and covering a total area of 13.5 hectares. Under the recent direction of the Moscow City Government, all centrally located industry is being moved outside of the city. The unique location of the site makes it an incredibly valuable and desirable property in the new market-driven urban economy. The site is adjacent to the largest Moscow Sports Complex \”Luzhniki,\” which is part of the main zone of parkland at Moscow\’s center. It is bounded on the northeast by the recently completed Third Transportation Ring Road, on the northwest by a wide Stalinist avenue (Komsomolsky Prospect) and on the south by the Moscow River. The campus of the most prestigious school in the country, Moscow State University, stands across the river, marked by a monumental Stalinist high-rise building; located at Moscow\’s highest topographic point, the university is a major icon on the skyline, as well as a popular viewing platform overlooking the city. The Luzhniki site is located at the intersection of car, metro, boat and pedestrian traffic routes, and in the vicinity of a park with facilities for recreational, entertainment, retail and industrial uses, thus uniting different population groups, providing jobs and attracting visitors. This project brings to focus the complex set of issues produced by a market-driven urban development overlaid on a socialist urbanism. Given the special local circumstances, this project\’s impact will transcend specific site proposals, and, because of its exploratory nature, the process could be regarded as an urban experiment for the rest of the city. The studio will address quintessential urban design issues, such as public and private ownership, land use, re-zoning, re-programming, infrastructure, and the more complex notions of identity, all with emphasis on – and aspirations towards – the production of new urban form. The project calls for designing a program as well as proposing formal design solutions. This is the first Harvard option studio to be held in Moscow. The studio is sponsored by the MCD Development Company. A site visit will take place in late March, during spring break, courtesy of the sponsors. The visit will include interaction with the Union of Architects of Russia as well as with local students of architecture and urbanism.