Crowning Glory: Moscow’s architectural highlights appreciated around the world

September 23
Construction and renovation

In September 2020, MIPIM Awards in architecture and construction were presented in Paris. Irina Viner-Usmanova’s Gymnastics Palace won in the category the Best Cultural and Sports Infrastructure project. This is not Moscow’s only finalist in the contest – a hospital in Kommunarka was among them in the Best Healthcare Development category.

Moscow buildings and architectural complexes annually win first prize at prestigious international contests and exhibitions. reports on projects that have gained international recognition in the past few years.

Athletic achievements

The Gymnastics Palace, which was designed by Mosinzhproyekt at the initiative of coach Irina Viner-Usmanova, president of the Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Association, was opened in Luzhniki in 2019. It is a five-story building covering an area of 25,700 square metres. It was built within three years in compliance with Building Information Modelling (BIM). The concept was the brainchild of TPO Pride specialists, led by Moscow’s Chief Architect Sergei Kuznetsov.   

With a roof made in the shape of an artistic gymnast’s waving ribbon, the building is in a class by itself.  The room underwent testing and proved that it is capable of withstanding any wind and snow loads. From the façade, the roof looks like a kokoshnik (a special Russian headband worn by women). The lobby is also decorated in the Russian style – the columns are painted with red Khokhloma patterns while the 2,000-square-metre floor is covered with a flower-themed mosaic. The transforming arena of the palace has a seating capacity of almost 4,000. The walls adjacent the arena are decorated with LED gymnastic ribbons that match the colours of the Russian national flag.

The MPIM Awards prize is not the first victory for Irina Viner-Usmanova’s palace. It had already won the Grand Prix of the Best Completed Construction Project contest and received a BISPO Award, a national independent prize in sports business and efficient sports project management.  

In addition, the Luzhniki Complex has also been recognised abroad: it received the Sport Engineering AWARDS in the High Sport Architecture category in 2017, while in 2018 it finished at the top of internet voting on the international portal,, and was short-listed for the MIPIM Awards in the Best Refurbished Building category.  

The Russian dimension

Irina Viner-Usmanova’s palace received the awards baton from Zaryadye Park and its concert hall, which were recipients of the MIPIM Awards Grand Prix in Cannes in 2019. The capital’s landmark facilities joined the list of finalists in the category Best Urban Development. 

The park was erected on the ashes of the demolished Rossiya Hotel in 2017. Its concept was designed by an international team from the Diller Scofidio + Renfro design studio in cooperation with Russian engineers and architects.

The designers came up with a stunning solution, probably inspired by the name of the hotel that used to stand there. The park is divided into natural environment zones – steppe, meadow, forest and tundra – and features the rich vegetation that can be found in Russia: birch trees, willows, irises, water lilies, sage, almonds, cherry-trees and geraniums. The park’s hills overlook the Moscow Kremlin while its main feature is a bridge that hovers 15 metres above the Moskva river and serves as an observation point.  

The Zaryadye Concert Hall was opened in 2018. This structure was built inside an artificial hill with a glass front and roof that resemble glass canopy. Thanks to special equipment, the concert hall can be transformed as needed:  the stalls can be turned into a stage floor, and even the shape of the stage can vary. The concert hall has one of Europe’s biggest organs, which was manufactured specially for Zaryadye by a French company. 

Zaryadye Park is a regular contest winner. In 2018 the project was the best in the Visitor Attraction category at the World Architecture Festival. It was also short-listed for the Inavation Awards 2018 as the Best Urban Regeneration project. In the same year the park became a winner in the Best Public Space category at the ArchDaily international architectural portal. 

The right level schools

Moscow buildings hosting educational facilities also managed to climb up the contest ladder. One of them is a building from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skotech), which was designed by the Swiss architectural bureau Herzog & de Meuron.

Skotech, situated in the centre of Skolkovo, was built in the form of a clock body with interconnected rectangular buildings inserted into it with courtyards and gardens. The interiors are made with Siberian oak, industrial vinyl, concrete and aluminium.

In 2019 Skotech won the main prize of the annual architectural award Prix Versaille in the Best University Campus category. 

Another winner among educational establishments is School No. 2075, the first digital gymnasium in Moscow. The architects attracted the attention of their foreign colleagues by how its inner space is organised.  Classroom walls can be configured to various sizes for classes that may range from 5 to 50 students. The gymnasium won the first place in the Educational category (Concept) at the Rethinking the Future Awards (RTFA)  2017 and received the Build School Project diploma.

Business on the upswing

Business venues have also won top places at international contests. In August 2020, The Digital Business Space was in the finals of The Plan Award, a European architectural award presented by The Plan magazine as part of the Renovation category. It is the former Central House of Entrepreneur on Pokrovka Street, the design of which is based on a 1977 Soviet cinema. After  renovation it acquired a façade that now changes colour. The outside walls are made of high-grade cement, marble chips and thousands of optic fibres capable of conducting light. Apart from The Digital Business Space, The Plan Award also short-listed Zaryadye Park in the Public Space category. 

Yevgeny Samarin, Press Service of the Mayor and Moscow Government

Last year the International Property Awards jury was impressed by the Federation skyscrapers in Moscow City business centre, resulting in the buildings receiving the Grand Prix award in the World Best Property category. Architects Sergei Choban and Pyotr Shveger designed the high-rises, which feature both office space and apartments. The skyscrapers defy commonality in many parameters. For example, they rest on a foundation plate of 14 cubic metres of concrete, a record that was recognised by Guinness Book of Records. The 96-floor Vostok tower, is considered to be the second tallest in Europe. The Zapad tower houses the world’s tallest electronic clock, which rests in the building’s façade at some 229 metres above ground.  

Apart from the Federation tower, the Evolution high-rise has also gained international recognition. In The skyscraper was second in a list of the Emporis Skyscraper Award winners. The contest’s experts were delighted by architect Filipp Nikandrov’s design – the tower’s body winds around its axis.  

Deep perspective

But Moscow’s aboveground architecture was not the only thing receiving praise from abroad. Savyolovskaya metro station of the Big Circle Line won the Audience Award at the Art of Building 2019 international photo contest, which was arranged by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), for which contestants were tasked with taking photos of creative architectural facilities. Alexander Bormotin captured images of Savyolovskaya station in perspective.  

Maxim Denisov,

The station opened in December 2018 as part of the first section of the Big Circle Line. It was laid at a significant depth of over 65 metres. The architects made the station’s platform in a loft style, exhibiting it as a large tunnel along which the tube’s supports are clearly visible so that passengers can appreciate the complexity of the station’s engineering works. The floor is made of granite and the walls are decorated with Siberian stone. Many people call Savyolovskya a museum of metro construction. 


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