Urban Forests in Moscow

Early socialist Moscow was a capital of emerging political order and thus had to be an icon of a socialist city. Bolsheviks needed to create something on the one hand material (as complement to ideology, which was not always comprehensible for the common people) – and in that way to appropriate the city, to gain the foothold in it, and on the other hand something new so as to ‘give face’ to new political order, to attribute new signs to it. Architecture was a good instrument to create new material symbols of power.

At the time of reestablishing Moscow as a capital by Bolsheviks, it was a provincial, nearly 800 years old city of merchants, with narrow twisting streets and lanes, with dozens of churches, residential structures dating back from sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as for example Zaryadye near Kremlin. Moscow with is enormous number of churches, their belfries and domes dominating on the skyline, represented more tsarist times than the progress of Bolshevism.

Understanding the need for major change, the soviet authorities set an architectural competition for planners of Moscow. Main emphasis in the design of the city was on the living conditions of proletariat. The construction of state owned large industry was envisaged in Moscow, which, considering the already dense and overpopulated core of the city, might have later face the same kind of problems as earlier London. Proletariat demanded new environment for living in urbanized areas, its working force should have reproduced itself in a specially planned environment, where sanitation, recreation, healthy environment (including access to nature) and well developed transport and infrastructure should have been addressed.

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