New Life for Factory Grounds

Industrial territory covers 17 percent of "old" Moscow (about 18,800 hectares). Its redevelopment is one of the pressing issues in urban development.

Konstantin Khodnev, partner at the DNK ag architectural group

The process of converting a factory area into a normal neighborhood may take decades, during which planning, property and financial matters are settled in due course.

Redevelopment begins by identifying the territory and integrating it into the urban fabric and structure by connecting it to the street grid. To do this, the first step required is simple: remove fences, external and internal, to let people and cars onto the territory. One example is Red October. We worked with the Guta Development company on this project in 2009. By that time, the factory was already inactive, and the large-scale development project had been stopped because of the crisis in 2008. The area was closed and access to the factory's courtyards was blocked by gates. We proposed to open the external borders and picturesque courtyards fully and begin developing the territory as a historic district with a network of streets and squares, with restaurants and shops on the ground floors. In addition to this, we suggested minimal improvements using historical artifacts and architectural lighting. Unfortunately, beyond the first steps, the improvement was not carried out. But the area, because of the unique location, quickly became lively and popular. In 2014, there were 30 companies on the waiting list to rent in Red October (according to information from the rental service). Today, it is filled with tenants but, we might say, it is stuck the first stage of redevelopment.

The next step, after creating access to former factories, is redevelopment or repurposing with minimal adjustment. Initially, the repurposing is often temporary. Such areas attract active, creative people who are looking for new places to bring their ideas to life, and they are willing to risks. So offices replace workstations, and coworking, showrooms, exhibition halls, restaurants, hostels, and so on, replace offices. Naturally, the repurposing of industrial buildings — with housing with greater width, high floor, huge windows — requires original and nonstandard spatial solutions. In areas under redevelopment, new functions and lifestyles are tested (Artplay or Flakon Design Factory are examples).

Daniil Lorents, partner at the DNK ag architectural group

Further development takes the collective effort of the developer, architect and prospective tenants with a careful design concept, strategy and minute details for adaptation of the territory. After all, we are not talking about the construction of one or two buildings, but entire neighborhoods with a unique urban environment. This is created with the spatial diversity of historic industrial sites, the original architecture, the patina of time and industrial artifacts. The first step of any part of this is analysis: historical, architectural and landscape. We identify the values of the space that could be incorporated in a new and original way and illuminate it with a new light. Its history can be put on display through the restoration of authentic attributes or work with the language associations and symbols. For example, in the RASSVET LOFT*STUDIO project for KR Properties on a territory that once held the Muir & Mirrieless furniture factory, we were inspired by the old buildings of the former factory, designed by Roman Klein, who also designed the Pushkin Museum and the TsUM department store. This is a complex ensemble, with buildings in pre-revolutionary and Soviet-era styles. We visually divided one of the huge industrial buildings of the late Soviet period into separate houses, and concrete panels were replaced by brickwork of different colors and textures. Thus was an industrial byway transformed into a cozy city street.