the 14th International
la Biennale di Venezia
Moscow is one of the most relevant settings for discussion of urban development today. Recent changes in the city’s infrastructure as well as new attitudes towards the planning of public spaces have made Moscow an intriguing destination for leading architects and urban designers worldwide. Today’s conditions in the city create the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past one hundred years of progress in relation to urban environmental policy and the vision of future development.
Following 14th International Architecture Exhibition’s theme Fundamentals, the exhibition MOSKVA: urban space highlights elementary shifts in architecture throughout Moscow’s past, revealing new urban possibilities on the basis of the winning project for the creation of Zaryadye Park by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
The exhibition in Venice was organized by an international team comprised of the city’s chief architect, Sergey Kuznetsov, architectural expert, writer and curator Kristin Feireiss, and RDI founder and philanthropist Dmitry Aksenov. In creating the retrospective, the team has explored how, while the face of a twentieth century city is largely determined by its architecture, today’s urban singularity is more so based on the “connective tissue” that is the public spaces, and the ways in which these spaces have become equally important markers of contemporary metropolis identities.
Moscow Architecture: 100 Years of Change
By the outbreak of World War I, Moscow was a rapidly growing business capital of the Russian Empire. In the architecture of train stations, hotels, banks, apartment buildings, neoclassical or neo-Russian decoration was combined with new technologies and building layouts.
In the 1920s Moscow was thought of not only as the capital of the first proletarian state, but also as a beacon of world revolution. The avant-garde architecture born here had to accommodate unprecedented forms of social life. The declared switch to "the reclamation of classical heritage" in 1932 directed professionals to create an image of victorious socialism using historical forms. In 1955 the course turned to industrial construction. The main task of architect's became to find a way to provide a separate apartment for every Soviet family as soon as possible. The collapse of Soviet power in 1991 gave rise to a desire to return to pre-revolutionary times. The new capital preferred buildings with columns and turrets, but the culture of working with historical forms had already been lost.
Since the beginning of the new millennium, Moscow has been seeking to join the world's capitals. Taking shape already in the post-Soviet era, a generation of architects are talking the same language as their colleagues from countries where the development of architecture had a less dramatic route.
On the occasion of the opening of MOSKVA: urban space, the conference “Between Architecture. Public Space and the Urban Commons” will debate how society and governance renegotiate the demands and expectations concerning the role of urban public space in modern societies. While in the past Moscow was largely determined by the architecture of its buildings, representing political and economic developments, at the end of the 1990s an intense discussion came up which was focused on the disappearance of public space, criticizing the commercialization of the social sphere. Especially the repercussions of the financial crisis of 2008 on the international real estate market have led to an “explosion of attention” for the social aspects of the appropriation of public spaces by civil society. Today’s urban singularity is more and more based on the “connective fabric” of its public spaces, which contributes significantly to improving the quality of urban live for its citizens. Taking the Zaryadye Park project as a raw model for these developments, the discussion will focus on current international strategies and processes of designing public space to be considered within an international politico-societal context.
Panelists: Dimitry Aksenov, RDI, Moscow; Elizabeth Diller, Diller Scofidio + Renfro. New York; Helle Juul, Juul Frost Architects, Copenhagen; Sergey Kuznetsov, Chief Architect of Moscow; Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology, New York University / LSE. Moderation: Melinda Crane, Berlin. The conference is part of “polis 21: urban interventions”, a network engagement platform, founded by RDI and Triad Berlin.
MOSKVA: urban space is presented in the exhibition spaces as well as the inner courtyards of Santa Maria della Pietá, covering approximately 700 square meters.
In keeping with the dissimilarity of the spaces, the segment of the exhibition that highlights the city’s past unfolds with inverted prisms hanging from the ceiling, and photographs of iconic buildings, like the experimental housing complexes of the Avant Garde era, colossal Empire-style palace of haute Stalinism and Modernism’s “standardized construction units”. Staging Moscow’s present architectural conditions, the exhibition focuses on public space, exempliﬁed by the ambitious project of Zaryadye Park. A recreated fragment of the proposed park points to Moscow’s future central park of the 21st century, illustrating its current debate on paradigms and re-appropriations of public spaces.
Curator. Sergey Kuznetsov is the Chief Architect of Moscow since 2012. He took part in different architectural exhibitions, including international ones. In 2010 and 2012 he was the co-curator of Russian pavilion at the Architectural Biennale in Venice, which for the first time was awarded with “Special mention” prize by the jury in 2012.
Commissioner. Dmitry Aksenov is the founder RDI and a committed philanthropist whose endeavors are directed towards cultural institutions and projects in Russia and abroad. He is the Chairman of the Advisory Board of VIENNAFAIR
Concept and design advisor. Kristin Feireiss is an international architecture expert, writer and curator. In 1980, she co-founded the independent forum for architecture Aedes in Berlin
Moscow Committee of Architecture and Urban Development (MCA) is a state organization that develops the city government policy in the sphere of urban development areas, architecture and formation of architectural and artistic image of the city of Moscow.
RDI is a real estate and urban development subdivision of RDI Group, a leading developer in Moscow region. The company specialises in contemporary development projects across all real estate market segments, championing unique architecture, design and innovative construction technologies.
On the occasion of the opening of MOSKVA: urban space, the conference “Between Architecture — Public Space and the Urban Commons” will debate how society negotiates expectations about the role of urban public space. In Moscow, as in most metropolises worldwide, architecture was long regarded as the defining feature of the city’s face; particular structures reflecting political and commercial forces dominated perceptions of urban identity.
That began changing in Moscow at the end of the 1990s as heated discussion arose in response to the disappearance of public space and the commercialization of the social sphere. The subsequent repercussions of the financial crisis on the international real estate market intensified the debate, generating an explosion of interest in appropriation of public spaces by civil society. Today — in Moscow and elsewhere — urban singularity is increasingly based on the “connective fabric” of public spaces and their contribution to improving the quality of urban life for all citizens.
Taking the Zaryadye Park project as a model for these developments, the discussion will focus on current strategies and processes for enhancing that contribution, considering the design and use of public space within an international context.
Santa Maria della Pietá – spazio Cappella, spazio Cavana,
Sestiere Castello, 3701, 30122 Venezia
7 June — 23 November, 10 am — 6 pm
Closed on Mondays
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