This year, under the My Street programme, over 80 spaces in the city are planned to be fixed up. “The programme for 2017 is even more ambitious than it was in previous seasons,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Utilities Pyotr Biryukov, speaking at a press conference. “It’ll be extended to many streets and courtyards, in general, to all areas in the city.”
Work under all projects is due to begin in April. The main improvement works – putting in place a conduit for overhead wires, laying granite slabs and installing kerbs – will be largely completed in July. “All the projects involving the city’s main thoroughfares are to be completed by late August or early September,” Mr Biryukov added. “That is, almost all projects under the My Street programme are to be finished by City Day. Only large trees should be planted later, in keeping with instructions, from October to December, which is the perfect time of year to do this because it’s the best time for trees to take root.”
A people-friendly city
The My Street programme is not just about renovation and improvement – it aims to transform the entire urban environment. It is based on the principles of modern urban development that targets city residents. “Our programme’s objective is to make the city as comfortable and attractive to residents and guests of the city as possible,” Mr Biryukov said.
Streets must be a convenient space for people, and not only for traffic. Mr Biryukov said that one of the main considerations that the city’s authorities were guided by when planning Moscow’s improvement was achieving a balance between better transport access and comfort for people. The city’s top priority is making streets convenient, not so much for cars as for people, primarily pedestrians. The number of people walking on streets that have undergone improvement has doubled or, in some cases, even quadrupled. “This means that residents and guests of the city like the results we are achieving together as we implement this programme,” Mr Biryukov added.
Following renovation of a street, pavements become three metres wider, on average, so there is enough space for street cafes and non-permanent retail facilities that do not obstruct pedestrians. Thanks to the programme, new recreational locations have appeared in the city: small public gardens with benches and other street furniture. “Pedestrians will also feel more comfortable as soon as new pedestrian crossings are built under the project,” Mr Biryukov added. “The installation of ramps will make the urban environment more accessible for all city residents.”
From Zaryadye to a museum quarter on Volkhonka Street
One of the key projects is Zaryadye Park, which will feature illuminated benches, a Philharmonic building under “glass bark,” an ice grotto and a suspended bridge. The project provides for recreating four distinct environments typical of Russia’s major climatic zones: forest, steppe, floodplain meadows and northern Russia, which will meet as they descend from Varvarka Street to the Moskva River. The park is on target to open by City Day.
“Under the My Street programme, a ‘setting’ for this pearl – the renovated Varvarka Street and Kitaigorodsky Proyezd – is also being created,” Mr Biryukov said. “Our main challenge is to make this area pedestrian-friendly as the park is likely to attract a large number of tourists. We also plan to build an observation deck overlooking the park.”
The park will be extended in a way to a new pedestrian area that will be created between Varvarka Street and Nikolskaya Street. It will include Rybny Pereulok, Birzhevaya Square and Bogoyavlensky Pereulok. One of Moscow’s few stone squares, Birzhevaya Square, will lie at the heart of the area, featuring a granite fountain at the centre.
A new museum quarter will be created on Volkhonka Street with a focus on widening the pedestrian area. The project also includes landscaping and the installation of small sculptures to create a special atmosphere connected to the arts.
The monument to Maxim Gorky will be restored to Tverskaya Zastava Square. The resumption of tram service will improve transport access to the area. “A designated lane for taxis to pull over in order to pick up and drop off passengers will be created,” Mr Biryukov added. “The square will be divided into zones, including a parking lot and a public garden. At the same time the area will be pedestrian-friendly, as all of its parts will be connected via pedestrian crossings.”
One of the priorities for this year is refurbishing 12 embankments. Pavements will be widened and trees planted to separate areas for walking and for driving.
Also, in 2017, the improvement work on the Boulevard Ring will be completed. There are plans to refurbish buildings’ facades, clean up the appearance of signboards, create additional pedestrian crossings and arrange for through traffic. The work to improve the Garden Ring will also be completed this year, with special attention being paid to its squares. For example, Krasnyye Vorota Square will turn into a mixed grove featuring oaks, maples, limes, larches, pines and mountain ashes. “There are plans to create a surface relief profile in the form of hills up to one metre high, which will be covered with flower beds and perennial plants.” Street furniture will be available to encourage relaxation in the area, and in the evening the square will be illuminated by numerous park lamps.
Diversity and integration
The city’s new image is a combination of diversity and integration. “Each street in Moscow should have its own character to be unique and memorable, but at the same time they should be visually well-matched to create a unified space,” Mr Biryukov said. Architects from Russia, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and other countries were invited to design the projects.
Landscaping and protection of historical heritage
Landscaping is one of the main areas of the My Street programme. This year, some 4,500 large trees and about 100,000 shrubs will be planted. In previous years, over 8,000 trees and over 150,000 shrubs were planted under the programme.
Another priority is caring for Moscow’s historical heritage. “In the past few years, over 450 historical buildings have been renovated,” Mr Biryukov said. “The renovation of another 317 buildings has been scheduled for this year. It’s remarkable that after renovation, architectural monuments and other historical buildings fully preserve their original appearance.” Some landmarks will be reconstructed. For example, the remnants of the 16th-century Bely Gorod [White City] wall that was discovered by archaeologists will become the centrepiece of Khokhlovskaya Square, and tram service will resume on Tverskaya Zastava Square. The state-of-the-art Vityaz-M trams will start running there only after reconstruction.
New utility pipes
This year, work under the My Street programme got underway late in the evening on 18 March on some sections of the Kremlin and Boulevard rings, on Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment and Petrovka Street between Karetny Ryad Street and Petrovskiye Linii Street. After these projects are completed, work will begin to renovate streets. First, a conduit will be put in place to relocated overhead wires underground, then pavements will be widened, building facades renovated and new energy-efficient lamps installed.
In addition to a new image, Moscow will also get new utility pipes. “New technologies allow us to create an engineering system that will not require digging up the entire street in the event of an accident,” Mr Biryukov said. “We expect new utility manifolds that will be laid to last at least 40 years.”
In 2016, 61 streets in city centre were renovated. A pedestrian-friendly area and a lime alley were created on Tverskaya Street, and new pedestrian crossings, navigation installations and benches appeared on the clockwise side section of the Boulevard Ring between Arbatskaya Square and Pokrovka Street. Today, Novy Arbat Street features wider pavements and Moscow’s longest bench (150 metres).