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A Look into the Future
Arch Moscow 2009, the largest and most prestigious architectural event in Russia focuses on promoting young architects. The curator is Bart Goldhoorn and the name of the exhibition is Next Arch Moscow!
Text by Elena Rubinova, photos courtesy of Arch Moscow

The end of May is a busy time for the Russian architect community. The Moscow Union of Architects announces the results of its Golden Section competition for the best architectural projects, and Arch Moscow is held. Arch Moscow, which has become a leading architectural event, opens in the Central House of Artists on May 27-31. Over several busy days, the exhibition sums up architectural achievements of the year, presents the best Russian and international architecture projects, and offers a variety of discussions and lectures by the most famous architectural gurus.

Starting from 1996, Arch Moscow has annually covered the main tendencies in contemporary architecture and urban planning in Moscow and to a certain extent in Russia. Largely due to the efforts of Bart Goldhoorn, the exhibition curator, Arch Moscow has gradually turned into a high-profi le international gathering. Over the years, such celebrities as Zaha Hadid, a laureate of the Pritzker architectural prize, Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat and American Daniel Libeskind have been Arch Moscow guests and lecturers .“When Arch Moscow started 14 years ago, it was an alternative to official exhibitions. Today under the theme ‘NEXT’, the exhibition is reclaiming the position it once held as an independent platform for emerging architects: every second year it will present a new generation of architects,” commented Bart Goldhoorn to Passport Magazine.

The exhibition has not only changed its format since it became part of the Moscow Architecture Biennale which was launched last year, but has also outgrown its strictly professional signifi cance. It is now an integral part of the cultural process in Russia; the architectural development of the city has become a much broader issue, and has become a highly controversial subject. How and at what cost is it possible to raise the city’s architectural standards? When will Moscow be able to offer a quality living environment?

Both the general public and the professional architectural community are divided over these issues. Imperial size shopping malls, Moscow’s Manhattan – an ultramodern complex of offi ce buildings called Moskva-City on Krasnopresnenskaya Naberezhnaya and new residential areas have been praised by proponents of Moscow’s modernization. At the same time, many detest the ruthless demolition of major historic landmarks and buildings. “Moscow’s architectural heritage is at a crisis point,” says David Sarkisyan, head of the Schusev State Museum of Architecture in Moscow. Independent critics and experts such as Bart Goldhoorn look more globally: “There are some quite good individual buildings now in Moscow, but there is a lack of vision on how the city should develop. The city is not pro-active, but just reacts. Now architects are only starting to design when there is an investor, and logically, they serve in the fi rst place the interest of the client. If we compare Moscow with other world capitals one could say that it misses a comprehensive policy on public spaces.”

Moscow architectural authorities have recently unveiled a plan for the Russian capital called Moscow 2025. It promises a brand new life for its 15 million residents as a result of further modernization; when the capital, according to the plan’s authors will become “a highly comfortable habitat,” all the while retaining its unique historical look. Bart Goldhoorn is doubtful about such a perspective: “this plan refl ects an outdated vision of urban design. It almost exclusively looks at the city as a whole instead of focusing on specific projects. It is too vague and will soon be outdated.” Goldhoorn has more trust in the young Russian architectures that are going to display their projects at Arch Moscow. It’s hard to say whether their projects will be realized, but they are all given a chance to take part in the vital discussion over Moscow’s future.

Exhibition ARCH MOSCOW 2009 will run from May 27–31 at the Central House of Artists and other locations.

It’s is being organized by Expo-Park LTD  

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