Not so long ago, we published a draft plan for the territory of the ZiL plant, approved by the Moscow government at the end of October. Now we present to your attention the opinions of experts in the field of urban studies: Alexander Vysokovsky, Irina Irbitskaya and Dmitry Narinsky.
Dean of the Graduate School of Urbanism at the Higher School of Economics
“From the point of view of managing the spatial development of Moscow, ZIL is a significant advance. Here we see several important positive trends in large-scale planning solutions: firstly, this is a fundamentally multifunctional, "mixed" development, combining commercial services, offices, housing, production and utilities in one planning grid. Secondly, this is a block development, well articulated, dense and quite expressive. Thirdly, these are advanced transport solutions, including a new approach to the Small Ring of the Moscow Railway, which is becoming an analogue of the Parisian RER, and the integration of different modes of transport. Taken together, this provides a large, city-wide solution to the most complex issues related to the interests of urban development, property owners, economic opportunities and political realities.
At the same time, my impression of the approved project for the planning of the territory of the ZiL plant is ambiguous. It looks like a professional job, but standard development. The authors proposed a competent, but some kind of "usual" scenario for the development of the territory, although they themselves declare it as a landmark project. In my opinion, the main problem is determining the future state of this area. It seems that the territory of ZIL should become one of the centers of the new Moscow agglomeration. It seems to me that the chief architect of the city, Sergei Kuznetsov, spoke about the same. However, to create an agglomeration center, something more is needed than to distribute various objects and residential quarters throughout the territory. Super-complex transport solutions, symbolic objects and central functions are needed. The creation of a central location was not clearly identified as a strategic objective and in the design specification.
As a result, the project does not see how the social and environmental problems of the development of this territory are being solved. ZiL has always been a closed enterprise behind barbed wire, tightly fenced off from the city. Now it is assumed that people will live there, a first-class district is being designed, but in my opinion, this should generally be an area with central functions, attracting large flows of people. For this to take place, the territory of the former plant must be made as permeable as possible, open to the city, “turned inside out”. This requires solutions that are incredible in their imagination and complexity, and not only in the field of physical planning, but, above all, in the interpretation of the created environments. Perhaps I am not familiar enough with the project, but looking at the last layout option, I did not find this.
This project does not yet form a new structure of the city, although ZiL is exactly the scale and the place where all this could happen. However, I think that nothing terrible is happening. The project will live and be transformed. This is too complicated a process to be staked out at a time."
Director of the Center for Urban Development Competencies, RANEPA. Head of the architectural bureau "Platforma"
“The planning project for the territory of the ZiL plant, approved by the Moscow government, raises a lot of questions. The first thing that catches your eye is the poor integration of the embankment into the structure of the district. In fact, in this project, it is no different from the old Soviet embankments, along which the highways are arranged. The authors explain this by the fact that they could not find an alternative solution. There is, indeed, a difficulty here, but this does not mean that there is no other solution to the embankment; rather, it suggests that the authors did not have enough time to find an alternative.
I am glad that the city again began to think in quarters. However, in this case, judging by the materials presented on Archi.ru, the size of the middle quarter is very large. And this is unprofitable and not rational both from an urban planning point of view and from an economic point of view. We have repeatedly said that the size of a block should not exceed two hectares. Otherwise, it is impossible to create a sufficiently dense road network. In the considered project, on formal grounds, such a network has been created, but it is completely inadequate. Ideally, streets should pass through the site every 70-80 meters. Another significant disadvantage of large neighborhoods is the formation of giant courtyards, which are very difficult and expensive to maintain. At the same time, some fragments of the quarters do not have an articulated courtyard at all. All of this is reminiscent of a return to design that does not imply the allocation of private and public spaces.
I have many complaints about the functional zoning of the territory. Looking at the huge plot of land devoted to residential development, we see nothing more than a huge sleeping area. It is clear that the project must have an economic return, but you need to understand that the return will be possible only at the time of sales. The correct urban planning approach assumes that specialists, already at the stage of planning the territory, will calculate how it will work throughout its entire life, what money it will bring and how much it will require operating costs.
One more significant remark - to the solution of internal highways. The authors focus on the so-called "boulevard", but I see a hybrid - something between a boulevard and a highway that cuts through the territory of the district and, as can be seen from the materials presented, is not drowned or put on "feet." In my opinion, this is an unacceptable solution. There should be a clear demarcation - either a boulevard or a high-way. There can be no hybrid here, since it will be extremely ineffective.
It is also announced that there will be a lot of greenery and parks on the territory. But given the location of the neighborhoods, these parks will never become a popular holiday destination. The green areas are divided into fragments: one fragment is crossed by the aforementioned “sub-boulevard”, the second is cut by a circular highway that follows along the embankment. The downside of this park will be its size - it is too large, it is difficult to fill it, and at least a minimal infrastructure is simply necessary for it.
As for the number of storeys, the declared nine storeys should not be regarded as the norm. Only a few dominant, silhouette objects can be nine-storey. The average number of storeys should not exceed 6-8 floors. The authors write that they want to create narrow, comfortable European streets. But with a nine-story building and observance of all our norms, we will not get narrow streets.
The saddest thing about this project is the absence of a bright fragment that claims to be the center. In the planning structure, the center is not readable in any way. The park cannot act as a center, since it is cut by a highway, the embankment is also not given the importance that would bring it to the position of the central location of the district, and I also failed to identify the presence of a center within the residential area.
Summing up the above, I can conclude that this project has a lot of shortcomings. It is clear that the territory is extremely difficult, but it was for this reason that a competition was organized and held. At the same time, for some reason, the winners of the competition did not take part in further development. This could somehow be justified if the project proposed by the workshop "NI and PI of the General Plan of Moscow" became noticeably better than the work of Yuri Grigoryan (his project also raised questions). But it did not get better, on the contrary, the main idea was lost. Grigoryan's planning structure looked much more varied and meaningful, a clear volumetric-spatial concept was felt in it - all this was lost in the project under consideration. Given this state of affairs, it seems to me that the most correct decision would be to hold a new international competition with the involvement of serious specialists, following the example of a competition for the development of a concept for the development of the Moscow agglomeration. This would make it possible to thoroughly analyze the territory and identify the most optimal solutions for its reorganization. Otherwise, we will get another sleeping area with a huge industrial zone and a fragment of elite yachting, inaccessible to most residents of the area."
Head of the Coordination Committee of the NP "Association of Planners" (RUPA)
“Considering the territory of ZiL, I would like to talk more about the process itself, about the competition, rather than about its results. The fact of the event is important here. It is important to note the approach to the competition, the preparation of the task, the understanding of the task by the city. The past competition clearly demonstrated that today a new attitude has been formed, which presupposes the integrated development of territories. The city has finally realized the importance of such complex projects and is ready to attract the widest range of highly qualified participants for their creation. The entire volume of works submitted during this competition should be considered as some kind of baggage that the city could use in its practical activities.
Both Russian and foreign specialists were involved in the competition, all of them in one way or another tried to comprehend the problems of the territory and offered their own options for solving them. I believe that working in consortia, ensuring the interaction of Russian and foreign specialists, is the direction that in the future can give impetus to the development of professional activities in our country.
This competition is symptomatic, and not only for Moscow. Hopefully, he will be able to give impetus to the reorganization of abandoned industrial areas across the country. Many cities in Russia face similar problems. It is important to highlight the projects of the past competition as much as possible, to make all its materials publicly available. Cities must learn to tackle such problems in a new format.
As for the result itself, here, I repeat, the total amount of work performed by different participants is important. I do not consider only the approved layout design and insist that it would be wiser to involve not only the winners, but also other teams in the implementation process. I do not want to evaluate the project itself, developed by the workshop "NI and PI General Plan". For such an assessment, it is necessary to dive much deeper into it. However, in my opinion, many of the competition works had very strong features, and against their background the project in question does not seem to be the best one”.