Old Moscow to become part of the modern megacity – Pyotr Biryukov

Old Moscow to become part of the modern megacity – Pyotr Biryukov
Moscow Deputy Mayor Pyotr Biryukov talked to mos.ru about how archeological artifacts found during the My Street programme will be turned into the main elements of city landscaping.

Open-air archeological museums will appear on Moscow streets this year following the completion of the urban development programme. Deputy Mayor for Housing, Utilities and Amenities Pyotr Biryukov told mos.ru what streets and squares will display the traces of the centuries-old history of Moscow, as well as what archeological exhibit will be the largest and whether it is possible to walk the ancient pebble pavement in contemporary Moscow.

Pyotr Biryukov, Moscow Deputy Mayor for Housing, Utilities and Amenities

Question: Mr Biryukov, many archeological discoveries have been made during the My Street programme this year. What findings will be shown to the public as museum exhibits? What archeological projects will be implemented this year?

Pyotr Biryukov: The archeological artifacts that are found by workers during the laying of utility lines and paving sidewalks are very valuable and help us better understand the history of our city. We and the Department of Cultural Heritage make decisions on every find, especially those located in the protected cultural layer. We consider it important to preserve these ancient artifacts for future generations.

This programme in central Moscow is not threatening the city’s archeological heritage, but rather opening it for research.

Plans call for establishing special areas to display old artifacts, as well as parts of old pebble paving, elements of foundations and walls from historical buildings as part of the My Street programme this year. Due to these projects, old Moscow will become part of the modern city.

Areas with historical paving will appear on several streets in central Moscow, such as Tverskaya, Sretenka, Petrovka, and Zemlyanoi Val streets

Question: What streets will retain their historical pavement? Where can we see it in Moscow today?

Pyotr Biryukov: Areas with historical paving will appear on several streets in central Moscow, such as Tverskaya, Sretenka, Petrovka, and Zemlyanoi Val streets. In 2015, one was opened on Pushechnaya Street near the Central Children’s Department Store.

Old clinker paving was found there during the reconstruction work. It was decided to preserve it by making it part of the modern pavement (sidewalk). The area with the old paving is about 40 square metres.

Muscovites appreciated this idea and we decided to make more areas with historical paving in central Moscow. There is another one on Sretenka Street. Muscovites and tourists can see what the street looked like centuries ago.

We will show the underground part of the Naryshkin Chambers. The ground floor of the Church of All Saints on Kulishki was found at Slavyanskaya Square. It was decided to clean the foundation, renovate it and then cover it with glass

Question: How will the underground part of the Naryshkin Chambers on Petrovka be preserved and will it be opened to the public? What other sites might be displayed?

Pyotr Biryukov: During excavation on Petrovka Street, the workers found elements of the lower (underground) part of the Naryshkin Chambers from the Vysoko-Petrovsky Monastery. An areaway with a floor and two basement windows from the second half of the 17th century were found. They are currently being restored.

After the main construction and rebuilding on Petrovka Street, they will be put under glass with the necessary temperature and humidity level.

There will be other displays besides the Naryshkin Chambers. The ground floor of the Church of All Saints on Kulishki was found on Slavyanskaya Square. It was decided to clean the foundation, renovate it and then cover it with glass. The landmark’s foundation is being reinforced.

Other old artifacts covered with glass will be on display on Kitaigorodsky Proyezd before the end of the year

Question: Will there be displays under glass on Moscow streets?

Pyotr Biryukov: This year, old artifacts under glass will be on display on Kitaigorodsky Proyezd. There is a small section of the Kitai-Gorod Wall. Two glass cases with climate control systems will be installed there at pavement level. They will display items found during the My Street programme. In the evening, the display cases will be lit.

Archeologists and builders share a common goal to make improvements while emphasising the identity of each street and preserving its historical spirit

Question: Mr Biryukov, how is archeological work organised at My Street sites? Do the workers mind the researchers’ presence?

Pyotr Biryukov: Archeologists and builders share a common goal to make improvements while emphasising the identity of each street and preserving its historical spirit. The improvement project is the main document used by the contractors. It is developed before the work begins and includes utility, architectural and construction plans, as well as technology, materials and the schedule.

The archeology section of this document is important. It gives information about a certain area, such as maps, descriptions, photos, drawings of artefacts and structures that were discovered in central Moscow during excavation work dozens and even hundreds of years ago.

The workers are the first to begin the improvements. They set up fences, put wooden walkways and ramps down for pedestrians, install warning signs and put temporary road markings down. Then they begin removing the old paving and start earth works at a certain depth.

They can make archeological discoveries while laying underground cables, repairing and upgrading the drainage system, or while repairing water or gas mains. At this stage, the archeologists are involved in the project.

Question: How are the My Street programme sites protected from amateur archeologists and passersby at night? Who is in charge of security?

Pyotr Biryukov: Special fences are always installed around the work area. The construction is conducted round the clock; the area is under constant supervision. There are security guards hired by the general contractors (the latter are responsible for the safety at the sites).

At the same time, each venue has emergency crews who walk the area and check the outside of the site. There is also a site supervisor who is responsible for managing the work in general, and the rest of the crew. Each site is also monitored by technical inspectors in two shifts.

The My Street programme has been ongoing since 2015. Archeologists are involved in the process of the entire project, and the relationship between the researchers and the contractors has been worked out

Question: Does work stop every time when an artifact is found?

Pyotr Biryukov: Yes, if the workers discover something they stop at the location. It happens that archeologists decide in favour of natural conservation, that is, the finding is covered with soil. Usually these are elements of large structures such as building foundations, old pavements or bridge abutments.

The My Street programme has been ongoing since 2015. Archeologists are involved in the process of the entire project and the relationship between the researchers and the contractors has been worked out.