Zaryadye Park opens in Moscow

Zaryadye Park opens in Moscow
Photo: Photo by the Mayor and Moscow Government Press Service. Yevgeny Samarin
Students from Moscow schools and boarding schools, as well as children from large families were the first to visit Zaryadye. The park will open to the public on 11 September.

Vladimir Putin has opened Zaryadye Park, which is located in the very heart of the capital. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin took part in the opening ceremony.

“In 2012, you set us the task of transforming this large territory into a park. At the outset various options had been considered, such as building a large business centre or a parliamentary complex. Nevertheless, the decision we made received 100% support of the Muscovites, because there had never been any parks in central Moscow, inside the Boulevard Ring,” the Moscow Mayor said.

Sergei Sobyanin said that a new comfortable area has been created in the centre of the city. At the same time, the park has successfully incorporated historical buildings, including Patriarchal Metochion, churches and cathedrals. 

The Mayor stressed that Zaryadye is a unique park: “This park is a cultural and educational space. It has two major educational centres: the Media Centre and the Ice Cave. The Nature Centre is also an educational space, and there is also the Philharmonic Hall that can seat 1,600 people,” the Moscow Mayor said.

Vladimir Putin expressed his gratitude to Sergei Sobyanin for creating the park. The Russian President and the Moscow Mayor visited the Media Centre, where they were shown a high-tech media complex with a panoramic screen and an interactive image on the floor. The Zaryadye Time Machine film was screened.

They also visited the Large Amphitheatre with 1,600 seats. The President and the Mayor also went up on the unique River Overlook, which became one of Moscow’s largest observation points with a view of the Kremlin.

After touring the park, Vladimir Putin and Sergei Sobyanin visited the Zaryadye café, which hosted a lunch for Moscow students, children from large families and boarding school students, who had received invitations to be the first to visit Zaryadye.

The park will open to the public on 11 September.

Ideas and projects

The decision to create Zaryadye Park dates back to 2012 and came as an alternative to building hotels and business centres on a 400,000 square metre land plot, the most expensive and sought-after piece of land in central Moscow. However, this project would have wreaked traffic havoc on the roads around the Kremlin. The idea to build a parliamentary centre on this territory was also abandoned.

The city authorities asked the public to submit proposals on how the park should look. Many of those ideas were later factored into tender specifications.

In 2013, Moscow held an international competition for developing a landscape and architectural design for Zaryadye Park. There were 90 submissions from architects and designers from 27 countries. The winning proposal for Moscow’s Zaryadye Park came from US architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Their proposal was to use the park’s territory to recreate natural landscapes from various geographical zones around Russia. The project demanded innovative construction technology and complex architectural and landscaping solutions.

Construction got underway in 2014, and it took until spring 2015 to dismantle the underground part of former Rossiya Hotel: 375,000 cubic metres of concrete was removed from the site, which is three times the volume of Luzhniki Stadium’s arena.

The preparation of concrete foundations for the park was completed in August 2016, which required 121,000 cubic metres of concrete (the volume of one Luzhniki Stadium’s arena). This concrete platform was needed because the park overlays a large underground parking facility. Vertical planning work was carried out at the same time, and the plot was covered with 250,000 cubic metres of soil. It was the first time that soil was delivered for a construction project in central Moscow by water using barges navigating along the Moskva River. The effort to plant trees and other vegetation got underway in the fall of 2016.

At the same time, the construction of permanent structures within the park territory was in full swing. They have a total floor space of 83,600 square metres, which is almost three times smaller than former Rossiya Hotel, which used to be located there. Most of the newly-built facilities are underground pavilions and parking lots.

The construction of the park was very quick for a project of this scale, since it was mostly completed by City Day 2017, when Moscow celebrated its 870th anniversary. Every day, as many as 5,000 workers worked there around the clock. The concert hall will open next year.

Ten million people are expected to visit the park every year, making Zaryadye the largest recreational area and a major tourist attraction, as well as a new symbol of Russia. It could also serve as a model for creating and redeveloping parks across the country.

Zaryadye Park as a new symbol of Moscow and Russia

Zaryadye Park is located on a relatively small plot of 10.2 hectares. It has a multi-level landscape, featuring a wide variety of plants, and unique media complexes for holding educational events.

The park was designed as an island of peace and quiet in the city centre, bringing together cultural heritage sites and innovative architecture. Pavilions are hidden underground, so as to create entertainment and educational infrastructure while also offering an unobstructed view of the park.

There are no fences or curbs. Any city resident can easily enter the park, including seniors and people with limited mobility.

The park is equipped with an automated drip watering system, drainage systems for removing rain water and a vacuum waste collection system. Every area within the park has a distinctive lighting design. Energy efficiency is achieved by taking into account seasonal factors and the time of day.

Flight, Time Machine and other major attractions in Zaryadye Park

At the entrance to the park from Vasilyevsky Spusk is the Dome information pavilion. Its interior walls are covered with numerous QR codes that contain information about the park’s history. These can be read via tablets using a special app.

The main pavilion is an 8,500-square-metre Media Centre with five Moscow Now information kiosks (there are 19 in total in the park), the Flight and Time Machine attractions, the Tourist Information Centre, an Exhibition Hall, a Media Studio, and a gift shop. There are also cloakrooms, halls and baby care rooms. A café will open before the end of the year.

At information kiosks guests will find out more about the park and the surrounding neighbourhood as well as the events programme. The kiosks will also be selling tickets to Flight and Time Machine, the underground museum and exhibitions. An electronic ticket selling and data processing system is about to be tested.

The Tourist Information Centre is located in the middle of the lobby. Ten consultants will advise visitors on the activities underway in the park and help them purchase tickets. There are 12 screens at the centre displaying information about upcoming events in the park as well as video ads with offers for visitors.

Below ground is a parking lot for 430 vehicles, both cars and tourist buses. There are designated parking spaces for people with restricted mobility. Sixteen lifts will take visitors to any of the pavilions. The parking lot will open within a month.

The Flight media venue is a unique cinema with a 13-metre-tall screen and a moving platform with 39 seats. At the cinema, visitors can watch 8-minute films, Flight Over Moscow and Flight Over Russia, the latter to be available this winter. The interactive adventure promises a real feeling of flight and special effects, including water sprinklers, wind, smoke and aroma generators. The hourly turnover at the venue can be up to 195 viewers.

Another attraction, Time Machine, is a 360-degree panoramic screen, 16.5 metres in diametre and 5 metres tall. Images will be projected onto the floor as well. The venue is equipped with 33 projectors and a 32-channel sound system. The visitors will not be passive observers: they will participate in the events on the screen and learn about Moscow’s history from ancient times until today. Time Machine can accommodate up to 180 people an hour. The two projects were developed by Dynamic Attractions (Canada) and Kraftwerk (Austria), creators of the best amusements at major parks around the world.

The Exhibition Hall is at the ground level of the Media Centre. It will host temporary exhibitions that will run for three to four months. The Russian Arctic will be the first exhibition on display, with a collection of unique photographs from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries from the Russian Ethnography Museum, works by artists and polar explorers created during expeditions, rare photos and videos courtesy of the Russian Geographical Society, recreated household items identical to those used by polar explorers and indigenous peoples of the North, and much more.

The Media Studio is a creative lab covering an area of 136 square metres. Professional workshops will be hosted here on digital animation, public speaking, basic television journalism, film directing and editing and blogging.

Zaryadye’s second largest pavilion, the Nature Centre (3,300 sq m), includes the Ice Cave themed hall, a Florarium, an educational centre, a café, a gift shop and a bar.

Ice Cave is located to the left of the main entrance. It is a 1,000-square-metre zone of below zero temperatures. Visitors will walk through labyrinths and see arches and columns covered in ice and illuminated with LED lights. The temperature in the cave is around −5 degrees Celsius. Some 70 tonnes of water were frozen to create the artificial ice.

So far only the first stage of the ice cave has been completed. Some of the ice installations are ready and function as support structures. Labyrinths and arches will be built during the second stage. In summer, visitors will be offered warm blankets. The expected attendance is 130 people per hour. The project was designed by artist Alexander Ponomaryov.

The Florarium greenhouse is located in the main hall of the pavilion. More than 500 plants of 30 species are on display here. The greenhouse uses aeroponics systems that allow growing plants without soil, a method typical for space programmes and plant breeding. Climate control systems maintain the required humidity, air temperature and lighting. Florarium will open shortly.

The Nature Centre scientific and educational centre can be access via the lobby around the greenhouse. The centre will host scientific experiments, interactive quests, lectures and seminars. It comprises a conference hall seating 48, four classrooms and a lab (for 20 seats each).

The lab is equipped with climate control systems for cultivating plants in artificial environments, thermostats, microbiology incubators, centrifuges, genetic analysis devices and other. Similar equipment is used in modern research centres.

Students will be able to attend lectures, workshops and applied research offered by more than 50 programmes in biotechnology, microbiology, genetics, medicine, ecology and geography.

Cultural heritage next to innovation

All the historical sites were preserved around Zaryadye Park and can be seen from the hill of the Nature Centre pavilion, including the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral and museums of the Patriarch’s Metochion.

The Church of Great Martyr Barbara on Varvarka, the Old English Court, St Maximus Church, the cathedral and the bell tower of the Znamensky Monastery, the chambers of the Romanov Boyars, Church of St George the Victorious on Pskov Hill, the Church of the Conception of St Anne and the Kitai-Gorod Wall hold a prominent place in the Russian architecture.

New concert venue in the heart of Moscow

Zaryadye Park will have a multifunctional world class concert venue, with two halls and two amphitheatres with a total capacity of 3,960 people. The Large Amphitheatre, partly covered by the Glass Canopy and partly in the open air, will have 1,600 seats and will host concerts, festivals and other events. The Small Amphitheatre with 400 seats will be adjacent to it.

The Glass Canopy in Zaryadye is the world's largest translucent structure without enclosing walls, covering an area of 8,700 square metres. Powered by solar panels, the structure has its own microclimate, warmer than outside.

The concert hall underneath the Glass Canopy will be hidden behind another landscape element, an artificial hill erected by Russian designers and builders according to the concept by Buro Happold engineers.

The Philharmonic is to open next year. The two concert halls, capable of seating a total of 1,960 people (1,560 seats in the bigger hall and 400 in the smaller one) will have transformable stalls. Acoustic tests were conducted under the guidance of the president of Nagata Acoustics, Yasuhisa Toyota, who designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Richard Fisher Centre in New York and many others.

From River Overlook to Underground Museum

One of landmarks of Zaryadye Park will be the River Overlook bridge – an observation deck over the Moskva River. A highly complex 70-metre structure, the cantilevered console without pillars or support structures soaring at the height of 15 metres above the water connects the park with the river. The total length of the bridge is 244.4 metres. From here visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the Kremlin, the Moskva River embankment and the park itself.

Under the bridge, the lower embankment of the Moskva River now has recreation areas by the water, a cafe, a gift shop and a water-bus station. On the right is an underground passage that leads directly to the park. That underpass houses the Zaryadye Underground Museum, which displays a collection of artefacts found in Kitai-Gorod and Zaryadye areas. Guests will see a fragment of the 16th-century Kitai-Gorod Wall, white stone cannon balls, customs seals (Russian and West European), coin treasures, tiles, samples of ancient Russian footwear such as stacked heel boots, falcon rufter hoods, and children's clay toys.

Old maps and plans will come alive thanks to modern multimedia and interactive technology. Through the museum’s glass floor, visitors will be able to see part of the ancient Velikaya Ulitsa – the main street of the Zaryadye area that stretched from the Kremlin walls and to the embankment. They will also see a 3D model of a birch bark letter, the one historians from the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences found in Zaryadye in 2015. In the entire history of archaeological excavations in Moscow, only three such letters had been found, and this is the fourth one.

Gourmet tour of Russia

Zaryadye Cafe is to the left of the River Overlook bridge. The café’s eight gourmet stations will treat guests to dishes made according to the recipes from various Russian regions. A sign at each station will indicate which cities and towns belong to this region. A total of 374 places in Russia will be represented. Products from various parts of the country will be used in the cooking, from the Far East to Crimea. Raw ingredients will be available for sale to be used at home.

Voskhod Restaurant’s theme is space exploration. Here you can try borscht, draniki, manty, khinkali, pilaf, shish kebab, sprats and much more.

Journey over the Russian natural zones

The new park features four Russian natural zones: the northern landscape, meadowland, the steppe and a temperate zone forest (mixed, coniferous, riparian forests and birch woodlands). Each of these zones has its own soil type, typical for the particular region. Birches, for example, were brought to Zaryadye from the Perm Territory. It was not easy to Recreate the steppe was a major challenge since it is dependent on chernozyom, or fertile black soil. To recreate this natural zone, workers used loam with crushed limestone for better alkaline reactivity and good soil drainage vital for plants in the steppe. The roof of the Nature Centre pavilion is the tundra zone, where visitors can see marsh elder, Siberian dwarf pine and other plants.

Over a million plants have been planted in the Zaryadye Park, including 760 trees, 7,000 shrubs, 860,000 perennials and 150,000 annuals. There are rare plants as well, including arctic-alpine willows, needle grass, Arctic bramble and dwarf birch. Some of the plants are listed in the Red Book of Moscow, such as breckland thyme, Solomon’s seal, lily of the valley, eryngium, globeflower and maiden pink.

To plant over a million specimens, the workers used lightweight soil mixes developed by the best Russian plant breeders. The specially designed soil mixes reduced pressure on the park’s concrete structures. Due to their design, the park’s benches seem to be growing out of the ground.

The park’s central part has lawns for walking and leisure (mowed lawns with walking paths), and beds with grasses (cocksfoot, timothy, fescue grass) and flowers (chamomile, daisy, bluebell, white clover). Here the meadow blends into the birch wood and the steppe.

A riparian landscape was created in the southern part of the park adjacent to the Moskva River embankment. The basis of this landscape are trees that used to grow in the park 80 years ago: limes, maples and oak trees. There are ponds decorated with water plants and riparian vegetation typical of ponds in the Moscow Region. The ground vegetation around the ponds turns the territory into a wet meadow. The riparian forest mainly consists of several species: willows, bird cherries and arrow- wood trees. To the right of the Voskhod restaurant there is an area with a coniferous forest, which mainly consists of fir trees and pine trees. Visitors can look forward to new plants that will come up in spring.

Some of the areas in the park are currently covered with roll out turf. This is temporary: the perennials planted under them need to be protected from winter temperatures.

The park also features:

Themed lawns — illuminated areas with temporary art installations;

A northern lawn — a local territory in the northern landscape zone;

A boardwalk — an extended linear zone leading from the Ice Cave to the Zaryadye café.

The total length of paths and walkways in the park is 8 kilometres (including 1.8 kilometres of heated walkways). Moreover, 460 lampposts and 256 benches have been installed in the park.

New look of the streets around Zaryadye Park

In 2016 and 2017, the streets adjacent to the Kremlin and Zaryadye Park, as well as the Patriarchal Metochion, were renovated under the My Street programme. The total area renovated under the programme is 32.3 hectares.

This includes:

Moskvoretskaya Embankment (1 km);

Moskvoretskaya Street (0.7 km);

Kitaygorodsky Proyezd (0.5 km);

Varvarka Street (0.7 km);

Birzhevaya Square (0.1 km);

Staraya Square (0.5 km);

Rybny Pereulok (0.2 km);

Bogoyavlensky Pereulok (0.3 km).

The total length of the renovated sections is 4 kilometres.

The streets now have new pavements and the sidewalks have been paved with granite tiles. The city also upgraded the lighting system and installed information display boards for pedestrians.

The city has also reconstructed the drains and installed gutter inlets. Overhead electric lines were placed underground in the specially designed cable-conduit system.

A fountain with a flat round bowl will be the central feature of Birzhevaya Square. During the excavation, the workers discovered archaeological artefacts, including fragments of white stone and brick structures from historical buildings. The artefacts were preserved. In autumn trees will be planted on the square.