Sergey Kuznetsov: Moscow is expecting population growth, and renovation is the answer to its challenges

Resource: Arch Council of Moscow
Sergey Kuznetsov: Moscow is expecting population growth, and renovation is the answer to its challenges

The MIPIM-2018 exhibition was held under the sign of major urban development projects, and it is logical that the renovation of the housing stock in Moscow was one of the key topics of the business program of the Russian delegation.

On the eve of the completion of the architectural competition for the five experimental sites of the programme the Moscow Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning held a round table discussion at MIPIM "Global Turn: Renovation of Residential Buildings in Moscow", which was attended by Sergey Kuznetsov, Chief Architect of Moscow, and representatives of the teams participating in the competition.

According to Sergey Kuznetsov, Moscow will face inevitable population growth in the next 10-20 years - it is a worldwide trend as people prefer to live in cities, which means that the Russian capital should find resources to comfortably accommodate the growing population, avoid increasing social tensions, and create effective mechanisms for high-quality long-term functioning of the city.

The city is preparing for these challenges by developing the transport network, creating new recreational areas, but the most important thing to work with is the outdated housing stock in Moscow which, as in other Russian cities, consists of five-storey buildings of the 50-60s. Not only the buildings are obsolete, but also the layout of the districts: a modern city needs pedestrian streets, a wider choice of social and commercial infrastructure, and private spaces in closed courtyards. To create radically new urban planning solutions that will allow Moscow to modernize its dormitory districts in the next few decades, an architectural competition was launched for five experimental sites of renovation. Also, like the program itself, the competition became a field for testing new tools for architects' work - for the first time at such large-scale sites, the contestants conducted a comprehensive analysis of a whole block of factors of life in the districts, including economic and social ones, and held public discussions with the residents of the districts.

We are satisfied with the results of the work of the contestants and I am sure that not only the projects themselves, but also the ideas and experience gained during their development will help create a better environment," said Sergey Kuznetsov in his speech at MIPIM, "We held meetings of architects with residents of the districts, a lot of people came to them, and I want to say that they were different from regular hearings, probably because it was a stage where you can change something, and most importantly explain to people why exactly those decisions were taken. Such discussions proved to be a very correct and productive format of work.

Yulia Zubarik, the head of "Master's plan" - the participant of the competition team on the Vernadsky Prospect site, told that in the course of the dialogue with the residents the project was amended. There were not enough polyclinic spaces in the neighborhood, and one of the sites was set aside for a polyclinic. Besides, the residents wanted to have a cluster to practise music and dance, because the social infrastructure of the neighbourhood was outdated, and in the end the firm included a whole complex of buildings for these needs.

Director General of the architectural bureau "BRT RUS" Marina Lepeshkina also pointed out that the survey of residents of the renovation districts, which was carried out on the bureau's own initiative, was a huge undertaking. As for the normative part of the projects, they were all checked for compliance with the standards. In the parts where the contestants propose to deviate from the figures stipulated by the rules, they are required to provide a justification, and the decision is left to the jury's discretion.

Renovation is a unique program in its scale, but in general the work of adapting urban areas to modern requirements is going on around the world, including in many European countries. Therefore Russian architects can use the already gained experience of foreign colleagues, adapting it to Russian conditions. "Yesterday my colleagues and I were looking at the area in the center of Berlin where we can reach a density of 40 thousand per hectare with seven-story building. This is amazing, because for 20 years this area has become one of the most popular due to urban renovation only, - said Sergey Tchoban, managing partner of the architectural bureau SPEECH, - So even a higher density, if it is done reasonably and the space is chosen humanely for people, allows to create not less but more comfort in mixed quarters, where people not only live but also work. So, I think that what is done today in Moscow can only be supported.

Renovation affects not only the quality of life of city residents, but also has a direct impact on the real estate market, which today is cautious about the program, not knowing how the commissioning of a huge amount of new square meters will affect housing prices and the economics of future projects. According to Tatiana Sharova, head of the Department for Project Consulting and Investment of BEST-Novostroy, which acted as a consultant for the two pilot sites, in the coming years renovation will only strengthen the position of developers whose facilities are built near the sites of the program, and the residents of the houses that were not included in the program, but located near the renovation areas, as the quality of new areas, their infrastructure component and amenities will be better, and this will have a positive impact on property prices. In addition, the program implementation will take more than one year, and the residents of the 5-storey buildings to be demolished will be resettled first, so the commercial implementation as part of the renovation will not start before 2025.