Last month Archello had a chance to attend Moscow Urban Forum, MUF. The fourth edition of the forum took place at the Central Exhibition Hall Manezh from 11 to 14 December, 2014. The forum serves as a venue for discussion, where the leaders of Russia’s largest cities have the opportunity to discuss their most pressing issues and projects with international experts, developers and business people. This year’s forum included around 4,700 participants from 20 countries. The main topic discussed during the sessions was the “Drivers of City Development”. (In 2014 for the first time the MUF had an international Partner City – Singapore.)

In 2014 for the first time Archello was chosen to be part of the international selection of Media Partners and attended this high profile event. Archello is happy to be able share the knowledge learnt and bring it to the attention of all urban architecture enthusiasts.

During the industry event at the opening session, Sergey Sobyanin, the Mayor of Moscow City, commented:

“A city is both a living organism and something that can be placed and managed. A megalopolis, such as Moscow, can descend into mega-problem, or it can evolve into a successful mega-metropolis. That is our main goal.”

On the first working day of the forum, mayors, city managers and specialists in urban planning discussed global trends in governing cities and metropolitan areas, the future of urban infrastructure, keys issues and challenges arising for modern cities and their role in the development of national interests.

On the second day, per tradition, participants addressed the problems and potential of the Russian capital. Moscow is one of the largest city in the world, both in terms of population and GPD (gross domestic product). In the past few years Moscow has been growing rapidly. Now, as the Russian economy experiences a slowdown, Moscow needs to activate its internal development potential.

During the Forum members of the Moscow Legislature presented on their new project “The Moscow River as a Source of Urban Regeneration”. The river has determined the development of the city for centuries, however currently its potential is not being fully utilised. The project showed how the regeneration will return the river to the city and add new functions of a huge area on the city map – Zaryadye Park.  

Moscow Urban Forum Festival, the special open programme of the Moscow Urban Forum, has been held simultaneously as the addition to professional program.

At the forum Archello attended great lectures and panels. We have met many professionals from Asia, North America and Europe. One of them was Greg Clark, cities development expert. You can find the interview with Greg Clark below – we spoke about the future of urbanization, spatial strategies for cities and perspectives for cities growth.

We hope to visit the next edition of the Moscow Urban Forum!


Interview with Greg Clark

Greg Clark – has led reviews in over 100 cities globally; the Chairman of the OECD Forum on Local Development Agencies and Investment Strategies, (Paris); Senior Fellow of the Urban Land Institute, (London); his roles in the UK range from advising the Deputy Prime Minister, to acting as Executive Director of Strategy and Communications for the London Development Agency.

Klaudia Kaleta: There are many representatives of Asia at the forum. Does it mean that Asia can be seen as example of great urban development?

Greg Clark: There are people from everywhere – from Asia, North America and Europe. Moscow becomes for this time the bridge between Europe and Asia, a place where representatives of both continents can meet. Like Istanbul in the past.

However, it is true that despite partly Western heritage, Moscow represents challenges typical for contemporary Asian cities – the huge scale, transportation, rapid growth of population. Its dynamics are more similar to Shanghai, Hong Kong and New Delhi than to Paris.

Singapore is the Partner City of this year’s forum. Do you think this city and Moscow have much in common?

The example of Singapore is an important lesson and demonstrator city for the whole world. Singapore have grown from the poverty to one of the top 20 cities in the world in 50 years

It was possible thanks to investment in healthcare, education, housing, transportation and spatial strategy to scale up. Combining those five factors made Singapore the efficient city.

Note: Singapore is city-state that became independent in 1965.

Can you clarify what spatial strategy means in this case?

There are four cities Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo that decisively changed their spatial model. From single centre – everybody going in and out – to multiple city centres with high capacity city transport and medium density-quality-price housing. This model is applicable almost everywhere in the world, also in Moscow. It took fifty years for Singapore to become one of the top cities in the world but it should not take so long to Moscow. I think it will take around twenty years to see the real change.

And what are the key factors that determine the growth?

It is very important for the government to become very pro-active player in three things. First of all, land ownership. Changes which I described are almost impossible to make if you have the land divided between many private owners. The city has to take the land. The second thing is the efficient tax system. The tax system has to be able to work in a way that when city creates the value by park, public spaces etc., it should also have the power to bring some value back. The last thing is planning system, a city should be able to set out a vision and follow it with a discipline and no exceptions to the plan.

The Moscow Government is planning to build the second Moscow on the north of the city. Is it going to be a new driver of development?

In the long-term – yes. In the short and mid-term – centres are in the Moscow. I think Moscow river is the geographical space to create the multiple centres city, but also much more housing. This will also help with reducing the congestion and keeping people in the centre – good quality public housing and affordable private houses.

With people driving in and out the centre there is a big problem with transportation – it is a worldwide problem, experienced by Moscow as well. Do you have any clues for that?

One: you need to have fewer people driving. There are two ways to do that, first – more people living in the centre, so you don’t need to drive; two: increase and improve public transport. Second thing, more centres. When you have poli-centric city, people are going different directions, not only in and out of the centre. Plus charging people for using their cars, so parking, congestion charging etc.

What do you like the most in Moscow? How do you see its future?

I come from London. The British had an empire, so there are many things to be proud and ashamed of. Moscow is similar, it is also a postimperial city. I see the opportunity here. Moscow, as a global city with many links to others, has a chance to become influential again. Not in military sense but in the sense of soft power – culture, human capital, education etc.

I think Moscow will have a great design ethics based on Moscow river revitalization. The river is DNA of the city and I hope to see some interesting design connected to it, something that expresses the spirit of Moscow again.