Postcard from... Moscow


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The Independent Online

In recent decades, many cities have made the transition from industrial to post-industrial, with power stations and factories converted into loft accommodation or cultural centres. Moscow is unique in the number of industrial zones that remain within the city – there are 209 functioning industrial areas inside the city bounds, some of which are right in the centre.

An urban-planning forum in the city last week discussed, among other things, what the city should do with these zones. Moscow officials insisted that there is no city-wide project to remove the zones, but are hoping that many of the industrial areas will be renovated. One such plan is for the ZiL car factory. Car production is due to continue at the plant, but developers want to convert some of the territory into housing and recreational space, and even have plans to install glass panes in the factory walls so that the manufacturing can actually be turned into a public spectacle. Already some former factories have closed down, such as the Red October chocolate factory on an island in central Moscow, which has become a cluster of galleries and cafés and will eventually become luxury housing. However, this is not the plan for other similar areas.

"Whenever you speak to international experts, they say Moscow is amazing because it's the only major city in the world where there are still these big industrial areas inside the city," said Sergei Kuznetsov, Moscow's chief architect. "But there is no plan to remove them altogether. They just need to become places that unite different parts of the city rather than divide them."