Point of view: a big city must have more than one center
Julia Zubarik, head of the Master's Plan urban planning bureau, discusses the structure of large cities.
The idea that a large city should have several centers of equal value is not new. Rationalist architects in the first third of the last century turned to it, but today, with the global urbanization and growth of megacities, polycentrism is practically the only model, providing viability and harmonious development of cities.
A large megalopolis cannot exist in a model - a central core, where all day and evening life takes place, where jobs, stores, theaters, and so on are concentrated, and the periphery, where mostly bedroom communities are located and where people come only to spend the night. This situation can only be partially justified in very small cities. In larger cities, and even more so in megalopolises, such urban development is unsafe, economically inefficient and inconvenient for residents: overcrowded transport drives people from the outskirts to the center in the morning and back in the evening - not a very harmonious way of life. The office center becomes empty in the evening, the periphery is empty in the daytime - this can provoke various incidents, including criminal ones.
Of course, no one denies the importance of the historical center, such as in Moscow, or any other centuries-old city, but people should come here to see the Kremlin or go to the Bolshoi Theater, not for everyday shopping.
When a city develops according to the polycentric model, the life of citizens changes significantly. A center can be formed both in one district if it is large and one for several districts if they are small. Mini-centers could become the core of even a microrayon.
Today's city dwellers are very time-conscious and are not willing to waste time standing in traffic jams or spending "forty-two minutes underground" every morning and evening. People want a high level of comfort near the house, so they can take their child to school, play sports near the house, and buy fresh groceries near the driveway. There should be workplaces within walking distance, cafes where you can sit with friends, green spaces - a square, an alley, a park. All this makes life less stressful and healthier for city dwellers.
Polycentrism has a positive effect on the city's economy by increasing, if I may say so, the "average cash register receipt. If all the stores are concentrated in the center, the citizens simply can't get there - the whole city can't use the same infrastructure at the same time. When there are many centers, people have more opportunities and accordingly there are more expenses.
Decentralization also affects the identity of urban areas. The construction of one or another unique infrastructure core attracts residents of other parts of the city. So today we can say that a major urban center is formed in the southeast, where a new point of attraction is being built - Dream Island Park, and then in the same area it is planned to build the "New Hermitage" on the territory of Zilart. In the northeast, such a point is undoubtedly VDNH, which has received new modern functions from cognitive and educational - numerous clubs and lecture halls, to the district - in one of the pavilions, for example, is the MFC.
By the way, new neighborhoods, including those that arise during the redevelopment of former industrial areas, today are being designed according to all the laws of polycentrism, offering new solutions. Such principles we have applied in the territory planning project limited by Kutuzovsky project, 1812th street, Kutuzovsky avenue in the Western administrative district (total area of more than 28 ha), as well as in the territory planning of multifunctional public area № 10 of Ryazansky district in the South-Eastern administrative district (total area of more than 41 ha).
Thus, the city animates "horizontal" inter-district relations - people from other districts, bypassing the historical center, begin to come to other interesting areas within the "inter-district tourism" - if in some polycenter something new and unique is created, people from other districts will come from curiosity, and as a result they learn more about the city, its history, development and opportunities, a cross-interest of residents in other districts is formed. Another plus in the formation of new centers of attraction is that the anthropogenic load on popular and well-known places, including the natural complex, is reduced.
Polycentrism also has a favorable effect on the citywide infrastructure, such as road infrastructure. Several centers require sustainable transport connections, which means that roads are built, widened and modernized, and new public transport routes appear. Thus, the city becomes a convenient place to live.