The former factory "Krasny Oktiabr" in Moscow becomes an exposition center. Source: Lori / Legion Media
If you take a look at a map of Moscow, you will find many grey spots – industrial areas with plants, factories and thermal power stations. Many of them were shut down long ago, since Moscow is not an industrial center anymore. However, some of the grey industrial properties still seethe with life.
As of today, there are 209 industrial zones in Moscow. These are vast territories, where many plants and factories were shut down years ago and production was stopped.
Investors became giddy over the than 49,000 acres of land. Industrial zones account for 20 percent of the total area of the city, and Moscow officials have admitted that these areas are used quite ineffectively.
Many industrial properties lie close to the center of the city. Some of them were built around 100 years ago. These areas are more than just industrial sites – these are cultural monuments and Moscow’s legacy. Some of them live a happy life in contemporary Moscow.
Art Strelka and Krasny Oktyabr
Art Strelka is one of the first Moscow projects to follow the global gentrification trend. Back in the early 2000s, several deserted garages on the premises of the former Krasny Oktyabr confectionery were occupied by artists; then came the businessmen, putting an end to the reconstruction project.
Krasny Oktyabr operated as an exposition center from 2004 to 2009, and the land was leased by independent galleries. The center became something of a legend during its short life. Artist Vladimir Dubossarsky wanted Art Strelka to represent all contemporary arts.
Although Art Strelka has closed, the former factory remains a busy art center – the Krasny Oktyabr art cluster borrowed the name of the confectionery.
The cluster features some of Moscow’s most notable landmarks, including the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, the Dozhd television channel, Bolshoi Gorod magazine, the Snob project and the Gipsy, Rolling Stone, Reka and Art Academy bars, among other things.
There are no final plans to build up the area of the former sweets factory. One option is to build luxury housing here, with prices up to $25,000–30,000 per square meter. Moscow’s chief architect, Sergei Kuznetsov, believes that people should live and work at Krasny Oktyabr.
“Krasny Oktyabr is a perfect site for a symbiosis of the new and the old,” he told The Village online magazine. “But this space needs to be completed and turned to face the entire city.” In other words, there are no plans to shut down the Krasny Oktyabr facilities.
The old, red-brick factory has preserved its charm, transforming into one of Moscow’s major culture projects in a very short period of time. Winzavod was unveiled in 2007 on the premises of the Moscow Bavaria brewery, which was later turned into a winery.
The area next to downtown Moscow plays host to the most important exhibitions (including the “Best of Russia” exhibition), lectures, exclusive film shows and jazz soirees. Winzavod is also home to a number of unique shops, restaurants, creative workshops, showrooms and schools.
The main art galleries of the city are residents of Winzavod – including the Marat Guelman Gallery, which looks for young talent in Russia and promotes Russian art abroad, and the Regina Gallery, which was established more than 20 years ago and moved to Winzavod only recently.
ArtPlay is an entire culture district. It is located in the former industrial buildings of the iron foundry Manometr (established in 1886). ArtPlay did not originally occupy this area next to Winzavod: its first residence was the former factory Krasnaya Roza, which became the headquarters of Europe’s largest IT company, Yandex, a couple of year ago.
ArtPlay completed a cycle at Krasnaya Roza, evolving from the ruins of the decrepit workshops into a brand new business center. It is now a specialized business and commercial center that brings together architects, designers and engineers, as well as suppliers of furniture, lighting, finishing materials and special equipment.
ArtPlay focuses on architecture and design, with 70 design bureaus and studios, the British Higher School of Art and Design and over 8,600 square feet of display area.
Arma is referred to as a creative zone. Arma is the former Moscow Gas Plant, built in 1865 by British companies on commission of the Moscow City Duma. The plant was supposed to produce gas for Moscow street lamps.
The area is currently occupied by shops, design studios, business centers, concert venues and even sports clubs. Russian designer Denis Simachev has his office here.
Plans for a new art district
It was announced last fall that the Moscow authorities had plans to create an art district near the Yauza River around ArtPlay, Winzavod and Arma. The art district project was supported by the mayor’s office and chief architect Sergei Kuznetsov.
The art district should be comfortable for all manner of artist. The district may take up to 10 years to be established.
The plan is to build housing in the area, which will have bicycle lanes and enjoy a complete ban on motor vehicles. “In a contemporary city, a district with design and architectural firms, art studios, galleries and film studios – a whole creative cluster – is a matter of good looks and prestige,” Kuznetsov told Afisha magazine.
Other Moscow industrial properties have also been given new life. Moscow’s oldest industrial area – ZIL – will be turned into a “city within a city,” with automobile production facilities, housing and infrastructure.
ZIL will have up to 53.8 million square feet of property built and reconstructed. Most of the area will be given to hotels, museums, stores, parking lots, research centers and high-tech productions.
Kuznetsov said in an interview with RBTH: “We need to turn Moscow into a city in the true sense of the word.” He mostly supports the transformation of industrial areas into new cultural and business landmarks, which gives hope of a radiant future for industrial sites of Moscow.
“No other major city has so many industrial zones,” Kuznetsov recently said in an interview with Agenstvo Arkjitekturnykh Novostei. “We have to develop these areas, give them over to investors. The city is losing money on them. Nothing is going on there. The city fabric must be of a totally new design.”
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