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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsNewsSociety‘I Believe That in 15-20 Years Moscow Will Be a Comfortable and Tourist-friendly City’

‘I Believe That in 15-20 Years Moscow Will Be a Comfortable and Tourist-friendly City’

Moscow must become an international city that is livable, creates new types of individual industries, and ensures that our country is territorially united by developing regions on the periphery of the capital. Further, universities can become new points of growth for such a polycentric metropolis, HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov said at the 2015 Moscow Urban Forum.

Trends That Might Result in Losses

The subject of risks and possibilities for urban development were raised by the discussion’s moderator, Andrei Sharonov, who is the Dean of the Skolkovo School of Management. According to Yaroslav Kuzminov, Moscow’s main risk is associated with not joining in on the technological revolution that has begun, which is resulting in intellectual production becoming aligned with services for producing customized goods, 3D printing being just one simple example of this. Moscow is already seeing that traditional industries are dying off, and in 10 years, this will happen to outdated educational and scientific institutions as well, Kuzminov warns.

Moscow also runs the risk of losing sources of revenue for the city and income for the middle class, one reason being that offices which employ a large number of Moscow residents are now moving to cheaper locations outside of the city. VTB Deputy President Mikhail Oseevskiy confirmed the fact that in order to save resources, companies truly are opening up back offices in different regions. This trend might cause the traditional revenue base of the Moscow budget to decline. This also concerns a drop in income tax revenues.

Moscow will also lose a ‘huge portion of future revenues’ as well if it does not become an ‘international city,’ Kuzminov adds. It is necessary to ensure a European level of comfort and infrastructure not only for tourists, but also for the highly qualified foreign specialists who work in the city, and for Muscovites themselves, of course. 

Among other things, infrastructural problems largely concern transportation. Moscow’s growth and the poor interconnectedness of the street network could bring about a virtual collapse of the city’s territory. To avoid this, the majority of locations in the city must be no more than 1.5 hours apart from one another.

Possibilities That Might Lead to Success

Discussing the city’s development prospects, Yaroslav Kuzminov suggested taking a look at the three levels of Moscow’s redevelopment.

Redevelopment-1 involves a sharp rise in residents’ quality of life thanks to less time spent on public transportation and Moscow’s transformation into a ‘pedestrian city.’ Pedestrian and bicycle zones have already arisen in the capital’s historic center, but new zones are needed for such ‘centralized’ functions on Moscow’s periphery as well. Pedestrian zones are also a way of generating new revenues and new jobs; a person out for a leisurely stroll will almost certainly want to stop to buy something or find somewhere to eat.

‘I’ve started believing that in 15-20 years, Moscow will be a city that is both convenient for tourists and for relaxation,’ Kuzminov notes. ‘But for this to happen, we need serious investments in large museums, and we need affordable hotels – yes, affordable ones, not ones that are priced at $500 a room. And we need new monuments,’ he continues.

Redevelopment-2 concerns using human capital and creating new urban industries. This will require the development of fundamentally different types of industrial zones, Kuzminov believes. These should not be giant factory buildings like in the 1950s, but smaller, ecologically friendly zones that have been integrated into residential development processes. These would be located near affordable apartment complexes as well.

The idea behind Redevelopment-3 stems from the fact that Moscow is a student-oriented city. There are almost a million students in the capital, accounting for 7% of residents. This figure is higher than in Paris, Berlin, or Beijing. ‘But universities in Moscow have a life of their own; they haven’t become centers for forming a cultural atmosphere. It’s necessary to develop a space for social activity around universities – for students, alumni, and even regular people who like to go have a cup of coffee near the university,’ Kuzminov says.

Moscow has almost no consolidated university campuses, Kuzminov adds. ‘So let’s take advantage of that. We’ll create projects based on the “diffusion” of universities into the city.’ University campuses can be interlaced with other buildings, including residential ones. It is universities in particular that, if ‘opened up,’ can become a location where new urban centers can arise. Yaroslav Kuzminov uses the Moscow Aviation Institute’s campus as an example. ‘This is a huge, spread-out campus, and integrating it into the urban environment would serve as the foundation for a new city center in the northwest region of Moscow,’ he concludes.

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