Moscow Future Ports

Moscow River revitalization concept, 2014

Riverlink Park

Carried along by the rushy rhythm of today’s technology-related urban growth, we hardly ever bring to mind that the spatial design of the people’s settlements at the moment of its very conception was entirely determined by the fanciful lines of the natural waterways.

Just like blood vessels in a living body the Moscow River, its confluences and related water objects create a dendrite nourishing crown, every branch of which is essential to the local ecosystem.

A network of rivers, canals, backwaters and artificial reservoirs together with the zones directly influenced by them covers more than 80% of the area within MKAD (Moscow Ring Road). This means that almost every random spot of the city tissue lays within walking distance from the waterside of one or another water object.

Sadly at the certain point traffic corridors and industrial zone have inconsiderately shut the river network from the Moscovites — more or less as it happens in other small and big cities all around the world which had undergone the rapid growth of industrial engineering.

However today the number of toxic industries is being gradually reduced and they are taken out of the city, and thanks to this process the bank line and the adjunkt districts have transformed into a resource for innovative development which, if used rationally, can become a driving force to positive transformations all around the city.

Will Moscow be able to use this potential properly and to ensure its rightful place among the leading metropolitan cities of the 21st century? To achieve this goal the city has to acknowledge and get over a range of the system limitations of the contemporary urban development.

Where city meets the river

About a hundred years ago, Pavel Muratov wrote about the area of Piazza San Marco — the place where the city of Venice meets the light and space of the Venetian lagoon:

«In the afternoon in front of a cafe, five hundred visitors are sitting at tables, their conversation mixed with the sound of spoons stirring sorbet. Cloaks of gray silk, blue silk, red silk, black silk, green camisoles trimmed with gold and fur, purple robes, ornate dressing gowns, gold robes, leopard clutches, paper fans, turbans, sultans and small female tricornes, defiantly slanted onto the ear. This is the population of extravaganza, the eastern bazaar, the seaport, where all customs meet, where all dialects clash and coexist in proximity, and where, if there weren’t campaniles, the Englishman Beckford would be ready to consider himself in Babylon.»

Since time immemorial, the symbolic significance of the pier and the coast for the city has been vast, immeasurable and decisive for its fate. From here, with this moving border between the elements of land and water, real History began — the story of Exodus, the Iliad and the Odyssey of Ancient Greece, the Aeneid of the Romans and the epic story of Novgorod by Sadko. The marina and port were not just the departure and arrival points for ships, the geographical gates of the settlement. They were its eyes and ears, a breakthrough into another dimension, a miracle of expanding the physical and mental horizon, accessible to everyone.
The age-old charms of marinas and ports began to weaken relatively recently with the advent of railways, heavy haulage and their transformation into mechanised ‘transport terminals’. The next breakthrough in technological progress — containerisation — threw ports from their snug nests to far beyond the boundaries of the inhabited part of the city. The port populated by remote-controlled robots faded, became depopulated, the townspeople forgot how to get to it, and its symbolic meaning — to be the messenger of the Unknown — dwindled and vanished.
It is time to return to the port in its most important symbolic prerogative. The competition for the modernisation of coastal territories is a milestone on the path of Moscow to conscious post-industrial development. Moscow ports, resurrected in a new quality as the ports of the Third Millennium, will fully reflect the changing priorities dictated by time: the transition from the megaton and gigawatt economy to the innovation economy.

Moscow Future Ports

The generalized image of a port became a semantic guideline to the concept introduced by the Meganom-Gillespies consortium. A port, no matter if it is a maritime, an air or a river port, is always a space where completely different environments meet, it is a ground for contacts and exchange, a breakthrough into some other dimension, a point where both mental and material horizons expand...

The main means of riverside come-back within our concept is creating a range of new type river ports. They are cultural and recreational spaces by water — attractors and “trailheads” built into a carefully designed system of traffic and pedestrian connections, supporting functions, progressive eco-technologies and urban partnership programmes.

Strategically this concept aims to transform the Mosсow River bank line into a sort of a city-wide drawing-room — a concentration axis of activities which became the most actual at the contemporary level of urbanization. Conceptually and functionally a port means sightseeing, spontaneous group communication, co-working, ecological and innovative education, family and tourist leisure, sports, artistic and musical events, theme festivals of all scale and so on.

Activation strategy: greening the center, intensifying the periphery
Ports along the Moscow River

The common strategical goal of new riverside centers is to get over the disbalance in proportion of the artificial development landscape type and the natural one between the central and peripheral segments of the riverside.

The concept’s realization scheme includes three strategical focus areas:

— intensification acupuncture: new river ports;
— reinforcement of the connections: a human scale for system development;

— healthy ecosystem and smart cleaning.

“Moscow Future Ports” is a flagman project of the given strategy. It is a series of architectural planning interventions which will result into creation of a range of modern river ports along the riverside which will be like the world famous Moscow underground stations, both functional and representative objects.

Every of these city magnets will include a station of public and water transport, a cafe with panoramic view and access to the Internet, a bicycle parking and other useful functions.

Besides, depending on the location the design of some particular ports will include such functions as grocery markets, restaurants, museum educational centers, grounds for public shows, concerts, presentations, co-working, self-organized picnics, fishing and active sports. The biggest ports will become baselines for creation of office spaces, technoparks and startup clusters.

Choosing the location for a certain port may be connected to giving spatial and architectural shape to an already existent nucleus of activity or, on the contrary, to the attraction of the activity to the less developed segments of the riverside which are significant from the strategical point of view.

New ports of city, district and local significance are distributed along the river in such a manner that they form a continuous landscape promenade which diagonally crosses the city.

Riverside concept design principles
Port concept and functions

As a part of the “reinforcement of the connections” strategy the system of pedestrian and traffic connections in the riverside area is reorganized in order to provide a significantly higher level of accessibility while reducing the total percentage of land designated to the transport infrastructure. For instance, creation of a series of compact pedestrian and cycling routes along the unaccessible segments of the riverside makes possible to increase by times the level of connectivity of the main public and leisure areas.

New technologies, which are gradually replacing the traditional methods of cleaning, transform the bank line to a self-cleaning ecosystem: thanks to them the river water naturally turns out clean, without using engineering structures and extra energy expenditure. These ecological solutions include such methods as cultivation of the weeds along the banks, which clean the superficial water drains; creating a system of floating and stationary filter islands with selected plants; transforming certain parcels of floodland into natural cesspools through bogging; adding to the river microfauna organisms which provide cleaning of bottom deposits.

The programme of cultural activation and public promotion is essential to the refocusing of the city towards the river. It’s aimed at changing the status of the river in the public conscience, renewing its image in people’s perception, helping the citizens to recognize its enduring value in order to finally make it not only the favorite leisure space for the citizens but also an object of their constant attention and active care. This strategical area of focus integrates the actions in the fields of public communication and event planning: from the media support of the river topic to the organization of cultural activities in the ports, riverside festivals of community, city, and international scale, and designing and bringing to life the touring development strategy.

Moscow River space is challenged in many ways today. The answers to these challenges will form the future of the river and the bank line for the new generations. In order to turn the river back to the mental map of the moscovites, to make the indeterminate bank zones and nearby lands useful for the city, we need to consider the river as a part of the whole planning system of Moscow, which shares all of its peculiarities. Bringing the river back to the citizens, letting the city to achieve its own bank line and a foreside, looking into the poetic emptiness of the water space will be the crucial point in developing the human capital and rising the standard of living in the city. Moving the attention to the river space of the city will help to develop in balance the potential of both central and periphery communities of Moscow, connecting them to an accessible and functional city axis.


LOCATION Moscow River bank line inside the Moscow Ring Road (MKAD)

CLIENT Genplan Institute of Moscow

STATUS competition entry, First prize

PROGRAM masterplan


Y. Grogoryan

Urban planner: E. Moreau

Expertise, text: Sergei Sitar

Project managers: A. Kamyshan, T. Osipova

Architects: V. Avdeev, E, Goncharova, Zh. Dikaya, A. Costanda, M. Smirnova, G. Soshnikov, S. Turchin, D. Ferrari, A. Chechetkina

Ecologist: R. Kazyulin

Video production: S. Kuznetsov, D. Rakov


Project proposal was developed by the international consortium “Meganom — Gillespies” together with Systematica, Strategy Partners Group, John Thompson & Partners and Cushman & Wakefield.

Gillespies — landscape, ecology

B. Evans, G. Pert, A. Rodes, F. Davis

Strategy Partners Group — economics

G. Korneev, N. Spivak

Systematica — transport

F. Bazzoni, T. Kadyrov, R. Choubassi, D. Presicce

John Thompson & Partners — urban planning analysis

J. Thompson

Cushman & Wakefield — economics

R. Tibbot, J. Tokareva, A. Morozova