Collateral Event of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia

Moscow is one of the most relevant settings for discussion of urban development today. Recent changes in the city’s infrastructure as well as new attitudes towards the planning of public spaces have made Moscow an intriguing destination for leading architects and urban designers worldwide.

Today’s conditions in the city create the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past one hundred years of progress in relation to urban environmental policy and the vision of future development. Following 14th International Architecture Exhibition’s theme Fundamentals, the exhibition MOSKVA: urban space highlights elementary shifts in architecture throughout Moscow’s past, revealing new urban possibilities on the basis of the winning project for the creation of Zaryadye Park by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The project was organized by an international team comprised of the city’s chief architect, Sergey Kuznetsov, architectural expert, writer and curator Kristin Feireiss, and RDI founder and philanthropist Dmitry Aksenov. In creating the retrospective, the team has explored how, while the face of a twentieth century city is largely determined by its architecture, today’s urban singularity is more so based on the ‘connective tissue’ that is the public spaces, and the ways in which these spaces have become equally important markers of contemporary metropolis’ identities. MOSKVA: urban space will take place in the exhibition spaces as well as the inner courtyards of Santa Maria della Pietá, covering approximately 700 square meters. In keeping with the dissimilarity of the spaces, the segment of the exhibition which highlights the city’s past unfolds with inverted prisms hanging from the ceiling, and photographs of iconic buildings, like the experimental housing complexes of the Avant Garde era, colossal Empire-style palace of haute Stalinism and Modernism’s ‘standardized construction units’. Staging Moscow’s present architectural conditions, the exhibition focuses on public space, exemplified by the ambitious project of Zaryadye Park. A recreated fragment of the proposed park leads onto Moscow’s future central park of the 21st century, illustrating its current debate on paradigms and re-appropriations of public spaces.


On the occasion of the opening of MOSKVA: urban space, the conference “Between Architecture. Public Space and the Urban Commons” will debate how society and governance renegotiate the demands and expectations concerning the role of urban public space in modern societies. While in the past Moscow, like most of the metropolises worldwide, was largely determined by the architecture of its buildings, representing political and economic developments, at the end of the 1990s an intense discussion came up which was focused on the disappearance of public space, criticizing the commercialization of the social sphere. Especially the repercussions of the financial crisis of 2008 on the international real estate market have led to an “explosion of attention” for the social aspects of the appropriation of public spaces by civil society. Today’s urban singularity is more and more based on the “connective fabric” of its public spaces, which contributes significantly to improving the quality of urban live for its citizens. Taking the Zaryadye Park project as a raw model for these developments, the discussion will focus on current international strategies and processes of designing public space to be considered within an international politico-societal context. 

Panelists: Dimitry Aksenov, RDI, Moscow; Elizabeth Diller, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York; Helle Juul, Juul Frost Architects, Copenhagen; Sergey Kuznetsov, Chief Architect of Moscow; Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology, New York University / LSE. Moderation: Melinda Crane, Berlin. The conference is part of "polis 21: urban interventions", a network engagement platform, founded by RDI and Triad Berlin.