Zaryadye Park would be the first park built in Moscow for half a century, now. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, it is located right in the heart of Moscow. Since 2006, the area has been empty. The park will replace a 3,000-room hotel. Rebuilding it will return vitality to a politically and socially rich space. A cultivated landscape, it will sustain a variety of activities. The park is part of a movement in Moscow to provide more pedestrian oriented public spaces. In the case of Zaryadye Park, it will link the city’s monuments with the surrounding neighborhoods.
The park is a hybrid between nature and architecture. This ‘wild urbanism’ concept is displayed in different ways. Richard Scofidio says:
‘Wild urbanism is pathless. People are not told where to walk. Plants flourish everywhere. People and plants share the same service… Nature and culture are in balance…Wild urbanism is a way to get out of the city, yet get closer to it. It’s Moscow lost and found.’
In today’s cities, urbanism and nature can be two opposing forces. Often you’d need to travel outside the city to access nature and ‘get away from it all.’ So, how do you make nature accessible in an urban hub? This is the question Zaryadye Park addresses. The park’s ‘pathlessness’ encourages a fluid movement of pedestrians. Another way Diller Scofidio + Renfro have made the park even more accessible is by providing controlled ‘microclimates’ that make the park habitable in the cold Russian winters. With the right manipulation of nature, these microclimates regulate temperature and control wind making the park accessible during harsh weather. One of my professors once said that landscapes can help you ‘cheat;’ they can give you a couple extra weeks of summer when fall has started or hold on to spring, when summer’s already here. It is all about reading the landscape and reacting to it.
What I love about Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s work that is especially relevant to this park is how they listen to what the landscape already has to offer. Although the architecture is beautiful, the most beautiful aspect of their work is that they provide a framework for a landscape that is waiting to be harnessed.
Russia is a large country with different landscape typologies across its land. Diller Scofidio + Renfro are importing these four typologies to one place: tundra, steppe, forest, and wetland. They have organized these four landscapes in ‘bands’ from northeast to southwest, creating terraces across the site. The park knits nature and architecture seamlessly together. Although the park is pathless. The pavement creates a gradient from hardscape to landscape, meant to induce the meandering of the pedestrians, letting them choose their own way throughout the park but also knitting the urban fabric with nature.
With their impressive track record, Diller Scofidio + Renfro will definitely offer a great space. Like their work in the past, especially their work in collaboration with Field Operations on the New York High Line, Zaryadye Park would offer a beautiful layering of space. The park would offer a successful and strong landscape that enhances the surrounding Russian monuments without taking away from the existing culture it offers.
By Aiysha Alsane