Shuchi Agrawal 2018-02-26
Art Has Become Moscow's New Urbanization Engine

From Impressionism to Modernism art in a former factory of manometers, from abstract art to neo-realism and expressionism in a former wine and beer factory. Creating a special atmosphere in the middle of desolate industrial buildings placed in the centre of Moscow raised up a new generation of contemporary artists.

Winzavod, a former wine and beer factory, became a unique space where a hundred of professional photographers from Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Holland, the USA, Sweden, Denmark, Iran, Georgia rent studious and hold exhibitions. The history of Winzavod began in the end of 16th century when Captain Melgunov, the founder of the place, sold it to his sister, Princess Catherine Volkonskaya. The building changed many owners. In 1855 Vasiliy Kokorev who was a famous "otkupschitskiy king" made a fortune on wine repurchases. Unofficially, art came to Winzavod in 1861 after a big opening of a gallery that hosted over 500 paintings collected by Kokorev including the works by Bryullov, Levitsky, Borovikovsky and Kiprensky. After that the building was repurchased several times. Today's Winzavod became the centre of contemporary art in 2005.

Artplay, a former factory of manometers, became a big loft for designers and open-minded people. You will never find IKEA furniture here. Sometimes weird, sometimes ambiguous art and design in Artplay make you think of how it might be if you end up with an everyday routine  and try even for a couple of days to nourish your life. It occupies the whole block of 75,000 square metres and is presented as a cultural landscape. Artplay unites people connected with art, design, fashion, architecture, project-making and other spheres. A home to British school of design in Moscow helps students collaborate with prominent Russian and foreign designers.

Artists are looking for a fresh look on lifestyle and for new opportunities to create something extraordinary. Updating this art cluster situated closely to railways (rebuilding old factories and repainting walls with graffiti) is the latest trend in urbanism.

The tendency of renovating and rebuilding old factories came from the West. In Great Britain’s London Docklands, the former part of Port of London, has became a quite luxurious place over the past 30 years. The area has become both a major business centre and an increasingly desirable area to live.

Deprived factories in Moscow can be surrounded by a highly populated area in some years redesigned and viewed in a new way. Five mega-projects were discussed and started realizing.  "The City on the River Tushino - 2018", the plant "ZIL", "Hammer and Sickle", "Grayvoronovo" and Shelepikhinskaya waterfront will be rebuilt.

The project "The City on the River Tushino - 2018 " involves the construction of more than 46,000 square metres of the residential property, over 3,000 square metres built- domestic premises , a two-level underground parking area of 30 square metres and a capacity of more than 850 parking spaces. The area of ZIL is promised to be turned into a comfortable urban environment where 1.56 million square meters property will be built- housing and apartments, office space, retail facilities, occupying underground parking. Renovating "Hammer and Sickle” might create working places for approximately 16,000 people.

These places weren’t considered to be perspective and worth investing. The situation changed after a success of creating centres of contemporary art. Art Strelka, Krasny Oktyabr, Winzavod, Flacon, Artplay are occupied by people who have an alacrity to work and to create an absolutely new and undiscovered space.

Ilya Shafranov, a master student of Graduate School of Urban Studies and Planning at HSE and analyst at Public Transportation Company, considers renovating as a perspective movement. However, it is not enough to only design the area. The transport system has to be worked out properly since it won’t make sense if public transport doesn’t operate in a new area.

Art and design have influenced the finance sphere, giving rise to new perspectives for retailers and over-populated Moscow to prosper and flourish in the middle of the 21th century. Artists and designers are becoming think-tanks of the contemporary economy.