Urban experts compiled a recipe for the ideal urban courtyard


What is a courtyard in a modern city, what functions should it perform?

How the preferences of citizens have changed, what they want to see in their courtyards today and what developers are ready to offer them.

What is a courtyard in the modern city, what functions should it perform? How the preferences of citizens have changed, what they want to see in their courtyards today and what developers are ready to offer them. These questions were the subject of the roundtable discussion organized by Etalon group within the framework of the International Exhibition "ARCH Moscow".

Deputy Director of the Institute of the General Plan of Moscow Marina Egorova, head of the architectural bureau Master's Plan Yulia Zubarik and executive director of the Institute of Urban Planning (a part of QUITE WHITE) Alexander Zaitsev told the audience about the city policy of courtyard landscaping.

Marina Egorova emphasized the typology of courtyard spaces, including those implemented under the renovation program. " What is the advantage of a courtyard without cars, what is a private territory and personal space – these are the questions that the city raises not for the first time. Both Moscow’s Government level and big developers, who implement it, talk about it", - recalled Marina Egorova. The expert believes that today we can distinguish several types of courtyard spaces - a closed courtyard formed by perimeter building; an open courtyard - a mixture of private territories obtained when there are both old and newly-built buildings on a single site; a compound courtyard with no pedestrian permeability; free planning courtyards which appear around tower type houses. At the same time, Marina Egorova noticed that a courtyard is "not only an improvement, but it also establishes property and legal relations with the residents, including those defined by the level of residents’ readiness to invest in the courtyard area, to improve it".

Yulia Zubarik continued the topic of urban planning. "We are not specifically engaged in designing courtyards, but we are the first ones to get feedback from residents at public hearings, so we know what they want. Considering these requests, we set parameters for courtyard spaces, so that at the next stage it will be easier for architects to design courtyard spaces", - says the architect. An important note: the residents' demands are not only for courtyards, but also for parks and squares, which should become the territories uniting the residents of individual courtyards and public spaces forming the image of the district.

"Squares and boulevards are an integral part of the courtyard. No one's recreational life is limited to one place only. Residents want a space where they can go out with strollers, ride a scooter, ride a bicycle. As for courtyards, the architect's position is unambiguous: courtyards should be car-free. "The yard is a multifunctional space for all population groups, and the car should stand in the parking lot," believes Yulia Zubarik.

Alexander Zaitsev, the Executive Director of IGSP (part of QUITE WHITE), noted that landscaped space "educates" the citizen and forms his inner world. "Improvement at this stage is a toolkit that allows you to change and shape the social environment," said the expert. - It is important for the developer in new projects not to stop at the improvement of courtyards only. It is also important to think about integration into the existing environment. This approach allows to fight against the marginalization of the environment, it gives impetus for the development of the territory and opens up opportunities to increase the capitalization of the next phases of the project.

Vasily Fetisov, Commercial Director of Moscow’s Territorial Administration of Etalon Group, gave examples of "benchmark" improvement of courtyard territories, which may be used as an example by colleagues. According to him, in recent years, Moscow sets the trend, since 2015 there is an active development of the urban environment, the programs "My Street", "My Neighborhood", "One Million Trees", "New Parks of Moscow" etc. have transformed the city. "Commercial developers, seeing how Moscow is developing, must be ahead of the trends set by the city. They must go to a higher level and become trendsetters rather than followers," says Vasily Fetisov. There is a purely commercial sense in the quality of the author's landscaping. "In comfort plus and business class projects a beautiful courtyard directly affects the interest of buyers and the speed of sales," adds Vasily Fetisov.

Examples are residential complexes built by Etalon Group today. The first is Residential Complex "Wings" - a new complex in the South-West of the city with a large volume of buildings - more than 120 thousand square meters. Here the concept of "Yard-Park" is implemented, combining various zones: "Urban Forest", playgrounds for children, a promenade, places for sports and recreational activities for adults. "This is not a classic landscaping according to the standards, - says Vasily Fetisov. - Although they certainly comply with them. We are obliged to provide sports grounds, playgrounds and recreation areas for children and adults. All this was been done on a new level". In particular, there is a walking route in the courtyard, more than a kilometer long, where you can walk with strollers and children, where you can run. Project’s landmark is a viewing platform and a gathering area for residents - a mini-meeting square, where meetings can be held, collective decisions can be made, in particular regarding how to manage and develop the area in the future. Another advantage of the project is the maintained green roofs.

The second project is "Silver Fountain" near Alekseevskaya metro station. Here, the landscaping project is fundamentally different, as it includes quite a large historical part - the territory of Alekseevskaya water pumping station - an object of cultural heritage. "When developing the territory, the task was to combine the historical development with the new one," says Vasily Fetisov. The centuries-old linden trees - about 150 trees - are preserved on the historical territory. The new part has projected pedestrian alleys, squares and fountains, including the restoration of historic Wallace Fountain and appearance of modern fountains. The projects are united not only by the developer but also by the author of landscaping - landscape company ARTEZA. Development director and senior partner of which - Denis Kusenkov - believes that "today the culture of development work makes a qualitative leap, people go to the practical steps to get a quality product and not just a pretty picture". The expert distinguishes three stages of the project of improvement, each of which is equally important: Design (both conceptual and workable); Construction, during which it is important that the improvement is not carried out on the residual principle; Operation. "If we take the buyer's impressions of a particular property, the covers and plants are the first thing he sees. And at this stage he decides whether to stay at the facility or not," says Denis Kusenkov. The expert adds that all the decisions that are implemented at the design and construction stage should allow the facility to be resistant to climate, operating loads, etc.

Competently designed urban areas ensure their attractiveness for different types of trade and service enterprises, - says the chairman of the Board of Directors of RRG Denis Kolokolnikov. According to him, spaces for commercial use should be allocated at the earliest stage of territory planning project with the first floors being 20-40% higher than residential ones. Moreover, the expert claims that special attention should be paid to complexes with closed courtyards, where "it is necessary to leave shop windows and separate entrances for commercial premises". "Without a separate entrance the liquidity and the cost of such premises decreases by 20-30%", - said the expert.