Controlled Landscapes or Building Sustainability in Public Spaces. Case of Studies of Padova and Moscow

Elena Merino Gomez and Fernando Moral Andres

Abstract In the present chapter, a comparative exercise of insertions of green areas in two European urban centers of great historical value is realized: Padova (Italy) and Moscow (Russia). Its urban fabrics, with a high degree of consolidation in their central areas, are the object of interventions that contribute to alleviate the congestion that they suffer in our days. More than two hundred years separate the intervention of Andrea Memmo, known as Prato della Valle from the ambitious project meant for the center of Moscow, next to the Red Square, for the plot of Zarydaye. Besides the temporal distance, there is a great difference in the intentions that animate both projects, however, the results obtained in the Italian case and expected in the Russian intervention participate in current sustainable values with full validity.

This work is based on the observation of the concomitance between two urban interventions in which vegetation and the treatment of water-related spaces play a fundamental role in shaping the consolidated urban centers of Padua (Italy) and Moscow (Russia). The present relations between two interventions as far back in time as the neoclassical Prato della Valle of Andrea Memmo, in Padua, and the still in process of implantation Zaryadye Park, in Moscow, are connected with the eternal return to the classic idea of rus in urbe, that, although preserving the ideological essence of landscaping the cities, has served different purposes throughout history: from the consolation of nostalgia for Roman peasant origin (Albardonedo 2015) to the consideration of m[1] Green areas per inhabitant as a healthy urban indicator by the World Health Organization (2012). The attenuation of the heat island effect of densely populated nuclei or the capacity of CO2 sequestration mitigates, by processes which involve age-old precepts, fully contemporary questions.

The existence of public spaces in urban territory finds far precedents in the Rome of the Empire (Garcia Lorca 1989), when rulers and benefactors of diverse nature made public promotion of their prodigality through works enjoyable by all citizens. Throughout the Middle Ages, the confinement of urban layouts within the walls, the scarcity of open public spaces, beyond those in which markets were celebrated, coupled with the consequences of the distribution of property inherent to feudal structure, prevented, among other causes, the planning of public areas of a certain extent that would alleviate the city’s congestion of that period. The green areas of the medieval city were restricted to the domestic gardens inside some privileged dwellings and to small-scale gardens cloistered inside convents and palaces (Rodriguez-Avial Llardent 1980).

It will be necessary to bridge over the medieval interlude to find new examples of spaces for the enjoyment of the common people on European soil. The dominant medieval tendency that tended to fill the cities survived even in the ideas of egregious Renaissance architects such as Alberti or Palladio, who continued to conceive the city as a “completely built place” (Lawrence 2008).

The existence of green spaces open to the public in urban environments, as we know them today, is a relatively modern phenomenon, since the first examples on European soil go back to the middle of the sixteenth century, related to the arboreal conditioning in areas tangential to the urban nuclei. In these first interventions, the utilitarian ends prevail over the sustainable ones and have nothing to do with the exercises of the later romantic urbanism that will purposely pursue, as a fundamental objective, the introduction of the nature in the city.

A pioneer in the second half of the XVI century was the intervention on the wall of Lucca (Italy) (Martinelli and Parmini): shortly after being erected, on the parapet walk, poplars were planted (Fig. 1). Their main mission was far from the contemporary ends with which are projected today the green areas. The grove was planted to achieve, through its roots, the consolidation of the land that integrated the walls. The proximity of the place and its attractive aspect made it possible for the people of Lucca to immediately take over the place, turning it into a leisure destination (Lawrence 2008).

In the image of the Luquean intervention, we find in other places of European geography linear plantations of groves, although they cannot yet be considered relief operations within compact urban layouts. These are actions in places adjacent to high density nuclei related to the existence of problems of unhealthiness or degradation. The landscaping of public spaces for merely recreational purposes, different from utilitarian ones, arises in Spain in the last third of the sixteenth century (Albardonedo Freire 2015).

Thus, in 1570, at the request of Philip II, king of Spain, was planned in Madrid the layout of what later would become the present Paseo del Prado (Jimenez Garnica 2002). Its main intention was to provide the city with an organized recreational meeting place according to the canons of the prevailing mannerism (Jimenez Garnica 2002) in a place remote and alternative to the busy areas of Plaza Mayor and Calle Mayor (Lopezosa Aparicio 2009), both located in central areas of the urban fabric. In a similar way was carried out, between 1573 and 1574,

Merian (1668) “Luca”. Bella veduta a volo d’uccello della citta e delle mura fortificate

Fig. 1 Merian (1668) “Luca”. Bella veduta a volo d’uccello della citta e delle mura fortificate

the Alameda de Hercules in Seville, planned in a degraded and relatively peripheral area which required hydraulic sanitation works for its adaptation (Albardonedo Freire 1998). The intervention bequeathed to the city an open environment with vegetal presence that has survived until our days.

The most primitive examples of the presence of green areas in the Early Modern Period consist of tangential interventions to the urban nuclei with a marked linearity, related to the presence of walls or the conditioning of river banks (Lawrence 1988). The irruption of nature in consolidated urban fabrics, linked to the purposes of decongestion or improvement of the urban landscape continues to be an idea alien to the Renaissance and Baroque approaches of the city. The opening of the Place des Vosges at the beginning of the 17th century in Paris is a commemorative proposal (Morriset and Noppen 2003) that will have to wait until 1670 to be covered with green and have exported to the rest of Europe the model of gardening insertion of public character in the inhabited urban centers (Lawrence 2008).

Functionalism linked to the conception of urban spaces in the context of the illustrated precepts of the eighteenth century reaches its maximum level in the intervention that Andrea Memmo performed in the city of Padua (Italy) in 1775. The Paduan space known since medieval times as Valle del Mercato—Valley of the Market-(Azzi Visentini 2005) was compromised by the presence of stagnant waters. The problem was aggravated by the recurrent floods that affected it from one of the deviations of the Brenta River which struck at the beginning of the fourteenth century (Gennari 1796). Located in the southeastern part of the city, in an area that once housed the Patavium Roman theater, the place required an urgent intervention to solve the problem of frequent avenues (Stratico 1795) that rendered the place a space muddy and unhealthy.

The vitiated constitution, in Patte’s words (1769), of cities could be remedied by the application of rational principles to urban planning. Memmo’s proposal for the conditioning of the Valle is fully in line with the functionalist ideology spread by Patte in France (Zaggia 2010) closely related to the eighteenth-century diffusion of hygienist ideas.

After a severe flood in 1722 (Neveu 2011) began the renovation of a space that had been dedicated to different purposes since Roman times: once the amphitheater disappeared, playful and commercial activities of diverse nature took place. The two main agricultural fairs in Padua were held in June and September (Zaggia 2010), a period in which water frequently threatened to undermine commercial activity (Azzi Visentini 2005).

The idea, as his pretended personal secretary (Neveu 2011), Vincenzo Radicchio (1786) refers to, meant one of the most innovative interventions in the creation of urban public spaces, not only for its functional and formal aspects, but for the ideology underlying the conception itself. In addition to solving the problems of periodic flooding, the project sought to create an urban garden island where commercial activities could be developed, housed in a series of ephemeral constructions that could be assembled during the fair and dismantled once the fair had finished (Williamson 1996).

The rest of the year, in the terms of the explanation at the foot of the engraving by Francesco Piranesi (Fig. 2), commissioned to illustrate the Descrizione (Radicchio 1786), the “paludoso terreno contenente lo spazio di 974,012 piedi quadranti” would be enjoyable as a “pubblico passeggio, pinacoteca e lapidaria che

Piranesi (1786) Prospettiva della Nuova Piazza dietro la generale idea gia concepita ed in gran parte efettuata dall Eccemo Sig

Fig. 2 Piranesi (1786) Prospettiva della Nuova Piazza dietro la generale idea gia concepita ed in gran parte efettuata dall Eccemo Sig. Andrea Memmo la adornano, [...] indicazioni di spettacoli, bosco, lago, strade, ed altri molti ornamenti che si possono rilevare senza spiegazione1”.

The island, surrounded by a canal whose purpose was to redirect the muddy waters to drain the space of the Prato, is conceived as a wooded place for collective enjoyment. The author of the project takes advantage of the opportunity to go far beyond what would be a mere hygiene and sanitation operation, approaching an unprecedented intervention of urban qualification: the execution of the “most beautiful square” (Goethe 1891) in which the Prato della Valle would eventually become. The conscious design of a scenery that would modify the urban landscape transcends in the words with which Memmo inspires the description of his idea:

Ognuno sa per esperienza, che due filare sole di alberi per quanto folti siano, non bastano a ripararci del sole caminando tra essi; ve ne vogliono quattro almeno, perche il viale di mezzo sia tutto ombroso [...]. Quel che somministra l'ombra al di dentro esclude la vista al di fuori [...].

Non si potrebbe negare che una tale idea non fosse bellissima in un quadro di Claudio di Lorena, o Gaspare Pussino; ma nel Prato, come come mai sarebbe eseguibile quando appunto que' viali cost ben dipinti toglierebbero la vista?”[2] [3] (Radicchio 1786)

Memmo’s interest in the visual impact of his work is linked to an early awareness of air quality, at a time when the premises of an environmental nature were not yet part of the overall design intentions. Memmo is worried about the irrespirable humidity of an excessively wooded and shady environment next to the water, which would affect the quality of the air: “Imprigionata l’aria gia umida in quel basso sito, non si respirerebbe certamente cola la piu leggiera, e sana. [,..][4]” (Radicchio 1786).

The validity of the proposal in all its propositional aspects survives today. Pragmatic aspects of the idea, some of them as incipient for the time as the tourist attraction, were announced in a visionary way by Memmo when he emphasized that the project program would be capable of “render deliziosa la citta per maggior attrattiva de’ forestieri[5]” (Memmo 1775 cited by Zaggia 2010). The environmental value of the idea demonstrates how the citizen present welfare observed in its vicinity is directly related to it, as well as the direct beneficial effects for the revaluation of the soil, public and private assets, and the indirect ones related to the tourist attraction of the area, which even nowadays contributes to the overall income of the whole city of Padua (Amrusch 2007).

The 88,620 m2 (Azzi Visentini 2005), occupied by the Prato della Valle, make it the second largest open public space in Europe, only surpassed by that of Red Square in Moscow (Noro et al. 2014b). The interest of the possible positive environmental repercussions for the city in which such space is inserted is reflected in the works developed by Noro et al. (2014a, b) at the University of Padua.

The green areas and the channels that make up the Prato predict a decrease of the temperature in its environs with mitigating consequences of the heat island effect suffered by the city of Padua. However, in the measurements carried out during the month of August 2010, higher than expected temperature values were recorded. The authors of the work attribute it to the fact that the instrument used collected data mainly in the perimeter of the green zone and hardly in the interior. It is noteworthy that the temperatures measured on the lawn and next to the central pond of the ellipse that defines the intervention turned out to be inferior in something more than 1 °C with respect to those collected in the rest of external points of the Prato. The data would be in line with the heat-reducing effects, favored by the presence of vegetation and water. The thermal inertia of the materials that make up the hard pavements of the environment will possibly be the origin of data different from those expected in the area of influence of the Isola Memmiana.[6] The authors propose future research in the area to obtain conclusive data (Noro et al. 2014b), which demonstrates the current validity of the proposal and its renewed interest in aspects that affect the particular sustainability of the intervention and its general repercussion over the city of Padua.

Between the illustrated intervention of Memmo in Padua and the contemporary urban operations to introduce nature in the city there are innumerable actions of public character adapted to the idiosyncrasy of the different urban nuclei that, from the Industrial Revolution, begin to undergo a new densification. For the first time, public health issues are being linked to the planning of green areas in cities that were beginning to suffer the consequences of incipient industrialization (Gordon and Shirley 2002).

Ebenezer Howard’s (1902) visionary proposals about Garden Cities or the underlying ideology in the Park Movement (Bluestone 1987), whose purportedly naturalistic aims actually responded to an urbanized and domesticated perception

Diller Scofidio + Renfro (2013) Zaryadye Park Competition, Winner Project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, view from Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge

Fig. 3 Diller Scofidio + Renfro (2013) Zaryadye Park Competition, Winner Project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, view from Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge

more than to the sincere Horacian remembrance of beatus ille, connect directly with examples of contemporary green interventions of medium and large scale.

The project for Zaryadye Park (Fig. 3), in Moscow, according to the plan of the New York office, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, dating from 2013, bursts into the scene of contemporary green spaces as a banner of what has come to be called Wild Urbanism. The intention to spontaneously populate determined areas of urban environments is related to the identification of authentically natural spaces that survive in or around the city (Box and Harrison 1993). However, the novelty of Wild Urbanism lies in the high planning of the actions that arise, so that the appearance of spontaneous or survivor nature is in reality the result of a complex sophistication, both in design and in the processes of implementation and maintenance of scheduled sites.

The main park of Moscow up to the present is the “Park of Culture and Rest in memory of Maxim Gorky”, 120 Ha intended to endorse the values that emanate from his name, a place where Muscovites can enjoy their leisure. Its layout was defined by Konstantin Melnikov in 1929 in the estate of Prince Trubetskoi, where the gardens, characterized by their roundabouts, of the old Golitsin Hospital, founded in 1802 according to the project of the architect Matvey Kasakov, and those of the Neskuchny Palace, from the XVth century and under project of Dmitry Ukhtomsky. It occupies a privileged position in the city. Its characteristic boundaries today are the Moskva River and Lenin Avenue. It is very close to emblematic places of the metropolis such as the Tretiakov Gallery or the Kremlin. In the same project a varied structure of constructions is articulated by buildings of different historical and architectonic value, along with diverse equipments. A place that has hosted from medicine, nobility, exhibitions, fairs, attractions to the “Cosmic Experience” linked to the shuttle Buran. Also quieter activities such as ice skating on winter floodplains or playing sports such as tennis or football (Horn 2014). All in a context where different gardens, ponds or grasslands articulate this great green area of Moscow (Park-Gorkogo 2015).

In 1957 the last great park of Moscow, the one of the “Amistad (Druzhbi)”, is designed, coinciding with the celebration of the VI World Festival of the Youth. It lies outside the central circle of the city but in the immediate vicinity of the Leningrad- St. Petersburg highway. The water has a special accent on the whole: it has several ponds and is very close to the Moscow Canal. In general terms it presents a more or less picturesque structure with vegetation based on groves, prairies and floral flower beds. In any case the distinctive symbol by which it is characterized is by the group of sculptures of different origin and style installed in different places of the set such as the two pieces of the iconic Vera Mukhina or the monument to Cervantes donated by Spain (Morley 2016).

These two antecedents are fundamental to understand the effective weight of this urban form in the structuring of the city of Moscow but also to contextualize the construction of the park that will fill the most privileged position of the city, next to the Red Square, behind the back of the St. Basil’s Cathedral, tangent to the Moskva River and with a dimension of 13 Ha: Zaryadye Park will be one of the operations in progress, of greater importance and which aspires to become one of the fundamental areas for the redefinition of the city in this XXIst century. A project aimed at restoring an extended plot, which between 2007 and 2013 has been a large abandoned site (Fig. 4).

Only a complex sociopolitical history, such as the Russian one, can explain how this urban vacuum has reached our days. The germ of this future park was a walled neighborhood, also known as Kitay-Gorod, which was demolished between 1930 and 1960. This place housed the first commercial district outside the walls of the

Kremlin. Its buildings were articulated around blocks with interior courtyards of different shape and size while making an irregular road network. Only the main historical buildings, almost all in the vicinity of Varvarka Street, were saved: Cathedral of the Sign (1679-84), Church of All Saints (1680s), St. George’s Church on Pskov Hill (1657), St. Maksim’s Church (1698), St. Anna’s Church at the Corner (1510s), St. Barbara’s Church (1796-1804), the Old English Embassy (1550s), and the 16th century Romanov boyar residence. They compose an odd set of buildings if we attend to the lack of context that explains and allows a full understanding. A kind of cadavre exquis that would not be outside the plans of reconstruction of Stalinist era. In the 30’s of the XXth century, it was the proposed site to locate the new headquarters of the Commissariat of the Heavy Industry of the USSR, Narkomtiazhprom (NKTP). Various projects signed by some of the architects of the Constructivist movement, such as the Vesnin Brothers and Ivan Leonidov, were presented. Subsequently, in the 1950s, the Zaryadye Administrative Building was planned and built. It was the eighth tower of the Seven Sisters (Stalin skyscrapers), with heights between 133 and 240 m, under the project and direction of Dimitry Checulin, in line similar to the rest of skyscraper-landmark of the time. This proposal was paralyzed after the foundation and execution of part of the structure of the first floors. Stalin had died and with him, the conclusion of the project (Citizenarcane 2005; Strelka 2013).

Taking advantage of part of the already executed and with a new project of the same architect would be built the Hotel Rossiya in 1967, of smaller height, but of colossal dimensions that made of it the biggest hotel of the world at the time and that maintained its record in Europe until the year of its closure in 2005. Emblem of the USSR and its Politburo, it had 12 heights and the main tower reached until the 23 plants with a total of 420,000 m2. The number of rooms was 3170, with a total area of approximately 35,000 m2. The State Concert Hall with capacity for 2600 spectators and an anti-nuclear bunker with the possibility of hosting 4000 people (Kudryavtseva 2011) was also housed inside. Everything was demolished between 2006 and 2007, without a blasting procedure controlled disregarding the damages that could appear in other bordering buildings, especially in the Kremlin (Manueco 2006). This disappearance motivated the presence of a large vacant 13-hectare site in the center of Moscow. New developments were proposed for the place, some by prestigious firms such as Foster and Partners, and always envisaging the construction of a new neighborhood that would restore the historical urban fabric while erasing the scar that the Rossiya demolition had supposed (Posokhin 2012).

We must note how the destruction of a complex and consolidated fabric, both by its urban structure, and by its identity, opened a crisis in the Moscow layout and became an unsolved problem up to the present day. The different proposals that should have organized a new neighborhood, composed by city-buildings, turned out to be a failure in all their versions. The brilliance of those who backed them did not understand the needs of a part of the city massacred by an authoritarian policy and a lack of historical and social perspective. Could an urban form different from the previous ones recover this territory? Could a city-specific structure address the needs of a key location and a post-Soviet society belonging to the XXIst century and facing the West?

In 2013, six years after the demolition of the Rossiya Hotel and the generation of the main Muscovite terrain vague, the Moscow City Government promoted the International Competition for the Zaryadye Park with the technical support of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design. The presentation document was exhaustive and set out in detail all the conditions that should be considered in the proposals submitted: from the historical remains, the topographical and urban conditions or the main relations with the rest of the city. A special attention should be paid to the relationship between the project en the future green areas (Strelka 2013). The intentions that underlie the call are marked by the following paragraph: “The aim of this competition is to develop an architecture and landscaping design concept that will form the basis of the creation of a contemporary park with a high quality infrastructure that will be open for the public all year round” (Archsovet 2013). The city opted for a green choice as a way of regeneration, absolutely new in this environment and with the idea of building a space dedicated, fundamentally, to the whole citizenship: a public space genuinely contemporary (Sease 2015).

That same year, the winning project of the competition was presented under the motto “Wild Urbanism”. Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS + R), New York-based office won the call and for its development had the collaboration of Hargreaves Associates and Citymakers with Buro Happold, Transsolar, Arup and Dimitry Onischenko among others. The jury established as second classified the project proposed by TPO Reserve. The third classified project was the proposal of MVRDV (Archinect 2013). A total of 90 consortiums from 27 countries had submitted their proposals, which gives us a clear idea of the magnitude of the event convened and especially of the interest that arose in a great number of offices of architecture throughout world (Zaryadye 2013). It is currently under construction under the direction of Sergey Kuznetsov, chief architect of Moscow, and with the American team as associate authors (Biaar 2016) (Fig. 5).

The work of DS + R, gathering a sensitivity especially localized in North America (Sease 2015), articulates a park that is built thanks to the union of the four main ecosystems located in the Russian Federation: the steppe, the forest, the swamp and the tundra. Along with these four main areas, several buildings, mostly hidden in the green surface, will close the set of cultural and leisure areas in the place. The authors explain the keys to their intervention:

“Wild Urbanism” is a proposal to create a surprising set of alliances between the urban and the wild, the local and the national. To begin, a sampling of Russia’s national landscapes are transported into the heart of Russia’s capital city. Intermixed with this soft structure is a system of gradated hardscapes inspired by neighboring civic squares upon which a constellation of pavers fuse and disperse to provide meandering walking surfaces above while concealing program spaces below. The park becomes a mediator between the local and the distant, the built and the natural, condensing diverse atmospheres into a familiar yet unknown park experience. (Harkema 2013)

The concept photomontages used by the architecture office presented in an attractive way what the previous words pointed out: Muscovite Metro stations

Diller Scofidio + Renfro (2013) Zaryadye Park Competition, Winner Project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, entrance from Red Square

Fig. 5 Diller Scofidio + Renfro (2013) Zaryadye Park Competition, Winner Project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, entrance from Red Square

emerging along streams, balconies and scenes set in valleys of rocks and fir trees, glass vaults that cover scrub of wide plains, ring-shaped lamps that appear suspended in the middle of forests, etc. A pleiad of images that mark the contrast between the natural and the artificial that is implanted in that context. The whole means an iconography that comes up with a new reality, born of that friction between entities of different origin and qualities (Harkema 2013). An option of similar nature was previously explored by other teams such as the mythical Florentine Superstudio and his proposal for the Monument Continuo.

The intervention, marked by these four landscapes outside the city, is articulated through a system of two inclined central stripes, the forest and the steppe, and the two resulting squares for the marshes, next to the river, and the tundra in the nearer and denser urban part. They all compose a kind of campus where historical buildings are absorbed by this fractionated tapestry and where the new services are hidden, for the most part, taking advantage of the unevenness of the plot in its vertical section. The traffic is located in the perimeter of the project. In the interior there are no paths; people can roam freely and without curbs for the whole extension of the proposal. They can sit, eat and enjoy a new area that can withstand any type of leisure and daily enjoyment throughout the year. The authors seek direct and massive contact between users and this imported nature. At one point, it resonates with the important green areas bordering the Kremlin, both in the main access area and on the banks of the Moskva, but Diller Scofidio + Renfro clearly indicate that this nature is a planned and limited gardening. Their project will contrast, especially in the ideological, with the whole of the Palace. The Red

Square, paved, will become the border between both realities while the Cathedral of San Basilio will receive a renewed strength as an icon or gate for the intervention. The authors projected a wild-looking pole that enhances the environment while enriching and complementing the urbanite’s experiences.

Throughout the operation, energy management is capable of conditioning the place to render it comfortable during the periods of harsh weather suffered by the city (Dsrny 2013). Larger roofs act as solar collectors by transferring the generated electricity to radiant floor systems, even to heat water in the swamp area, in order to theoretically create, from renewable sources, thermal differences up to 15 °C (with 0 °C being the possible value of the external ambient temperature, a progressive gradient is constructed, which grows from 8 to 15 °C in the most protected position of, for example, the museum). The biofuel is used in the restaurant in order to raise its indoor temperature, being able to reach 20 °C in comparison with the 0 °C of the outside. In all cases the trees act as passive protectors against the incidence of the wind that usually sweeps this place in the severe days of autumn and winter. This system of planning a place in energetic terms affects the four main patterns/landscapes. By means of different passive systems, mainly forest masses, and of distribution of heating, the respective microclimates are defined through the control of temperature, humidity and sunlight to be true in all their magnitude (Harkema 2013).

There is an interesting debate between how to understand and intervene with the wild in the city (Box and Harrison 1993). In the days of Brezhnev “savages” were those who left the government-sponsored vacation to enjoy camping or fishing outside the official resting places (Premiyak 2015). It is paradoxical that the current authorities are encouraging the construction of this area, typical of the ancient “savages”, in the center of the capital. This puts us at a point closer to the phenomenological question: surely the central value of the new park could make us understand that these natural objects give way to the nostalgia that some feel about the times when men lived in a closer relationship with nature (Premiyak 2015).

The reality of the project subtracts values from it and renders it less ambitious but provides it with interesting results. We are facing an intervention that will implant the tundra, the steppe, the forest and the marshes in a place that corresponds only, biologically, with the forest. It is an essentially artificial choice, new in this considered context although easily tolerable by it. The key is the formalization of a piece of rupture and reconfiguration of urban relations using energy as a structuring material with a crucial role (DS + R Consortium 2014) (Fig. 6).

Finally everything will be due to how the energy resources that will feed the park are managed in order to propitiate the life of these four imported ecosystems while facilitating the constant use of the place. The big choice is to materialize a micro-system that develops, in a sense, independently from the natural climatological cycles. It is a commitment to define a new hybrid territory of natural and artificial values: the natural form and the artificial substance that combined give us an attraction that connects us, as humans, with our more atavistic roots (Sease 2015).

Diller Scofidio + Renfro (2013) Zaryadye Park Competition, Winner Project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Fig. 6 Diller Scofidio + Renfro (2013) Zaryadye Park Competition, Winner Project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Table 1 Authors' elaboration with the data provided in Harkema (2013)

Roofed spaces




Area of exhibitions and cultural activities

Its access is protected by a grove. The roof has a solar capturing system and at the same time it has air conditioning through underfloor heating


Ice cave

It takes advantage of the entrance of fresh wind from the outside to enhance the creation and maintenance of the frozen place



It is protected by the grove and with cover of solar capture. Features a large biofuel fireplace


The house of tea

It is located beside the marshes, also has solar cover and a radiant floor capable of heating part of the wetland where it is located



Semi-enclosed building. Future headquarters for the Philharmonic Orchestra



Two areas


Park lab

Center of management and learning


Table 2 Authors' elaboration with the data provided in Harkema (2013)

Outdoor spaces




Celebration square

Located in the South corner of the intervention and the Philharmonic


Great meadow

The heart of the intervention


High forest


Low forest




Varvaka walk


Wetland bridge


Partial recovery of the historical layout of the West area

Pre-existent space



Pre-existent space. It will provide connection between the park and the river


The project presents distributed in 13 Ha the following spaces that we specify in the Tables 1 and 2 with approximate areas that give us an account of its dimensions as well as its main energy characteristics.

This succinct description demonstrates the enormous complexity of the project under the pretext of the recreation of the four main landscapes of Russia. The approach is extremely ambitious in all its central readings, both the exclusively restoratives of the plot, as well as those concerning the functional and, obviously, the natural.

The authors point out that their work “High Line” in New York City was useful to investigate these questions of the natural and unfinished (Millington 2015). In this project they maintained the vegetations that had taken over the abandoned railway structure and incorporated them with all its values into a new urbanization that would enable an effective use by the neighborhood and its future visitors. They built a different linear park where what was traditionally repudiated and eliminated became the main differential value and engine of recovery of a degraded place. It is true that the photographs of Joel Sternfeld (Millington 2015), prior to the work, mythologized the values of the pre-existent urban ruin but finally the project would be the reality who brings together this previous poetics with a new landscape that substantially transforms the place and its interpretation. Architects are conditioned by the local and impregnated values of the existing nature that dwells in the infrastructure. Ricardo Scofidio declared that “they protected the place of architecture” (Millington 2015).

There are notable differences between the two projects, of which the following stand out: the one of NYC is promoted by the residents, Moscow is a governmental question. The first is a part of a large railway infrastructure, the second is derived from of a devastated solar. In the American project nature was there and, in Russian, its presence is forced in the place. High Line generates, eventually, an extraordinary gentrification and, at the same time, a real estate explosion (Millington 2015). Zaryadye, in its foundations, seeks a reconfiguration of the Moscow public space to increase the welfare of its citizens (Zaryadye 2013).

For DS + R the pre-existence of a pseudo-natural context was decisive for the conception of Zaryadye, one of the star operations of the new urban project for Moscow, and will also be one of the maximum exponents of urban design in the present century. In the present time the natural is not a matter of ornamentation, but a vital necessity in the face of the tremendous environmental problems of our XXIst century cities. We must be aware that more than 70% of the world’s population will live in a city in 2050 (Ahern 2013).

We still do not have enough time perspective, but Moscow is presenting different operations that begin to construct a paradigmatic case to understand and act in the great metropolises of the present and of the future.

After the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s of the last century the new Russia emerged but with a socio-economic context that was tremendously complex, difficult and uncertain for all its institutions and citizens. The whole country and its capital had to be redefined. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov managed the city in the main post-communist period, from 1992 to 2010. After being dismissed by the president of the federation, Dimitri Medvedev, e a new phase of development of the city began under the government of Sergei Sobianin who is still in charge of the city council. These minimal reviews account for the importance implied in the government and rehabilitation of Moscow for the whole of the USSR. The support and guidelines from the Central Government are key to understanding the city’s urban development in its double aspect: citizen/proximity and representative/global capital. Today there is a strategic plan agreed between the two administrations until 2025 (Moscow 2015).

We have determined a historical sequence of urban plans in which the concern for the green is remarkable. We are in a context of high pollution generated by the industrial concentration of the region, the largest in the country. We can highlight the following plans (Maria Gulieva in Schindhelm et al. 2011; Bulanova 2014, Moscow 2015):

  • - 1918, “City of Future” by Boris Sakulin. It raises the expansion of Greater Moscow through two rings of eminently residential character around the Kremlin. Between them there would be an additional green ring.
  • - 1923, “New Moscow” by Ivan Zholtovsky and Alexei Shchusev. It proposed one of the most comprehensive plans for the idea of garden cities where they installed the new working class. The incipient industrialization established measures that meant that no new residential area was more than 600 m away from a green area.
  • - 1971, M. Posokhin proposed a structuring of the city and its growth in areas organized around important public spaces. Each sector would connect with the others through green areas.

- 2010, “Masterplan of necessities” by Alexander Kuzmin. In this plan there is a

choice for the connectivity between sectors through “green wedges”, the

regeneration of the fluvial riverside of the metropolis focused on the integral

rehabilitation of the capital.

We can see how the concern for the construction of a green and permeable context for the whole city in different forms is present in all the contemporary planning. The Western-based hygienist concepts, which are the basis of important present decisions, have been transformed into needs that encourage the improvement of the habitability of the city. Moscow, according to recent studies, is ranked 62, over 64, in terms of quality of life (Filippova 2015).

There is no doubt that the urban design of the city of Moscow, as we have seen, is marked by the Soviet heritage in a profound way. This situation presents a unique work platform that further underpins the last Development Plan. Moscow shows a distortion in comparison with the rest of the western capitals: its percentage of public space in the whole territory is 53% compared to 25% in the cities of the European Union (Anna Trapkova in Schindhelm et al. 2011). This percentage is due to a collective inheritance that defined the city, using open spaces as a reflection of a determined ideology (Argenbright 1999). This requires an extraordinary effort by the administrations that must adapt and qualify it according to the needs of a very different citizenship for which it was formerly thought. It is a challenge but there is an important global consensus that public space is crucial to building a high quality city. The Muscovites possess these areas but they are underused, especially the central ring. The WHO recommends a figure of 9 m2 of green areas per citizen (World Health Organization 2010), the center of Moscow has a number of around 4.8 m2 (Maria Gulieva in Schindhelm et al. 2011). The data is overwhelming if we take into account the concern for the planning of green areas in all the urban proposals throughout the XXth century. This reveals that the effort in this direction was concentrated in the periphery of the city, in the raions, where the majority of residents are lodged. This harmful situation is aggravated when considering the busy traffic, perimetral and transversal to the center, with the pollution derived from it. In 2006 there was a fleet of 2.6 million cars and, in 2012, the amount of vehicles reached 4.5 million (Horn 2014). It should also be considered that anti-icing treatments applied on public roads eliminate a large number of plant species (Argenbright 1999).

This situation makes the concern, emphasized by external advisors such as the Danish Jan Gehl, for sustainability not optional (House 2015). This is understood by the Plan of 2010 which establishes as one of the main vectors of action the qualification of the city from the public, green space and for the full enjoyment of the Muscovites (Maria Gulieva in Schindhelm et al. 2011). Moscow today has regained this tradition of planning green areas trying to reach at the same time a major impact in its most emblematic areas. In 2011, the old Gorky Park had a deep renovation to adapt it to the needs of the users. It was restructured to remain the great multifunctional reference park in the city (Horn 2014). In 2013 the renovation of the area of the waterfront of Krymskaya was tackled. The proposal of the park

Zaryadye continues to support the plans of the city government. In 2014 the Meganom study wins the international contest for the recovery of the banks of the Moskva (Stott 2014). Around 2017 Gorky and Zaryadye will form an almost continuous extension of about 7 km in the heart of the city. The recovery of the river, with a calendar, initially similar, will mean the rehabilitation of 120 km of riverside. These operations link the Russian capital, in a sense, with similar operations that take place in other large cities such as New York, where its “Designing the Edge” program seeks to recover its waterfronts (Ahern 2013).

Two forums for architectural and urban debate, based in Moscow, emerge between 2010 and 2011: the Strelka Institute, with a strong involvement of OMA/AMO (Schindhelm et al. 2011) and The Moscow Urban Forum. Both teams will work, from an international perspective, in the study of their city and in the new strategies and experiences around the strategies of management and development of cities. Moscow has protected and used them to regain a relevant role in the whole of the world’s cities. In 2013, in the Urban Forum, the municipal government distributes the document “Moscow, the city for life” presenting the following priority lines of action: (1) Mobile City; (2) Comfortable urban environment; (3) Healthy city; (4) Well-educated city; (5) Socially protected city; (6) New economics of Moscow; (7) Open Moscow (Transparency) (Horn 2014). All this conceived with the purpose of healing a city conceived, during the most part of the XXth century, as a simple accumulation of work and production while making efforts to redefine itself as a place for citizens (Argenbright 1999).

The project for Zaryadye is not an isolated one: it is part of a larger program with an emblematic role within it. President Vladimir Putin supports this initiative which also beholds those values of new nationalism and Russian grandeur. Perhaps we may consider it, in the future, as a new global icon in the context of world reference parks. Nowadays it is already a leader in the implementation of these natural visions. Meganom’s project for the recovery of the Moskva presents common approaches in some of its sections (Stott 2014).

The project is close to landscape urbanism (Sease 2015) but is fully connected with the duality of scenic aesthetics or ecological aesthetics (Jorgensen 2011). It is true that, without considering the impact of the construction of this intervention, the city will have gained an additional green lung and will be able to mitigate the lack of enjoyable green spaces that the city center demands both for its inhabitants and for the requirements of its precarious environment. The main and decisive value of the operation is the ability of this micro-system to recreate a particularly harsh and livable context, a pair of contrasted values that will qualitatively improve and sophisticate the city’s wide network of public spaces. This work, based on its aesthetic and phenomenological character, will build a unique territory in Moscow at the same time that it begins to radiate its influence in different projects of notable offices of architecture and outstanding cities. This union between anthropological and ecological conditions is founding a new way of building the contemporary metropolis where the weight of sustainability should be decisive throughout the whole process.

Once defined the main features of the two interventions analyzed in this work, we provide the capacity of their respective green areas to sequester CO2. Both interventions present figures, estimated on ideal models, which are interesting when analyzing their contribution to the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is true that the case of Padua was not defined to combat this polluting situation but today it is playing a modest role in this area. In similar way, it is expected that Zarydaye Park will contribute to the mitigation of the remarkable air pollution problems in Moscow (Moscow Times 2014). In order to obtain a quick approximation based on the theoretical parameters reported by Roehr and Laurenz (2008, 144) regarding the CO2/m2 of green surface, we estimate the following quantities, considering the most unfavorable value of the three proposed by Schaefer (2004 cited in Roehr and Laurenz 2008). We make the simplification of assimilating the surfaces of both parks to a theoretical area “grassy” as the predominant vegetable in the two interventions and with a value of capacity of sequestering CO2 of 4.38 kg/m2 per year. For Padova with a green surface of 18,635 m2 the value would be of 81,621 kg of CO2 per year and for Moscow with a surface 127,232 m2 the value would be of 557,276 kg of CO2 per the same period. In any case, these numbers would be more favorable if the different tree species, already existing in the case of Padova and projected in the case of Moscow, were accurately taken into account.

Based on the ideas of the Isola Memmiana of Padua and the Wild Urbanism of the Zaryadye Muscovite Park, this chapter has presented how cities are enriched due to the increase in the quality of their public spaces thanks to the green experiments they support, regardless of the intentions with which they were conceived. It is noteworthy that the functional constant survives as a fundamental engine that activates these operations. Both in Padua and in Moscow, the improvement of health, either by the improvement of water flows or by the increase

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Fig. 7 Diller Scofidio + Renfro (2013) Zaryadye Park Competition, Winner Project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, tundra landscape of green areas according to World Health Organization ratios in order to the fight against industrial pollution, are not conceived in isolation from other parameters that will ensure its success over time. Memmo considered the definition of a commercial space suitable for holding major fairs together with the creation of a place of enjoyment and leisure and even for the attraction of more visitors. Diller Scofidio + Renfro attend to this green mass as an improvement and sustainable repair of the center of the city, but also as a necessary step for the construction of a microclimate that makes the natural environment enjoyable throughout the year, helping to define, simultaneously, a new identity for Moscow and its inhabitants (Fig. 7).

The diachronic interpretation establishes guidelines that emphasize the functional reason of both interventions right from their beginning, although Zaryadye will still have to validate it with the passing of the years. Emotional, perceptive, experiential and enjoyment reasons are currently the main value of green interventions in the heart of the cities. If modern and contemporary society is characterized by a remarkable provision of time for solace, among other values, the park reaches a paradigmatic role in this context. Also the constitution of a singular emblem through the materialization of natural spaces makes parks capital issues for the characterization of any city.


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  • [1] E. M. Gomez (H) • F.M. Andres Department of Architecture, Universidad Nebrija, Madrid, Spaine-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it F. M. Andres e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it © Springer International Publishing AG 2017 R. Alvarez Fernandez et al. (eds.), Carbon Footprint and the Industrial Life Cycle,Green Energy and Technology, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-54984-2_5
  • [2] “The muddy land contained in the space of 974,012 square feet” would be enjoyable as a “publicwalk, art gallery and statuary that adorn it, [. ] indications of spectacles, forest, lake, streets andmany other ornaments that can be observed without need of explanation” (Radicchio 1786).Translation from Italian provided by the authors of this paper.
  • [3] “Everyone knows from experience that only two rows of trees, however leafy they may be, arenot enough to protect us from the sun walking between them; at least four are required for thecentral path to have shadow [,..].That which provides shade to the interior limits the views of theexterior [. ]. It could not be denied that an idea of this type was not beautiful for a painting by Claudio deLorena or Gaspare Pussino; but in the Prato, how could something like this be realized, considering that those well-painted paths would take away the views?” (Radicchio 1786). Translationfrom Italian provided by the authors of this paper.
  • [4] “The damp air, trapped in that sunken place, would not be breathed precisely as if it were thehealthiest and lightest [. ]. (Radicchio 1786). Translation from Italian provided by the authors ofthis paper.
  • [5] “Render the city delicious and make it more attractive to foreigners” (Memmo, 1775 cited byZaggia 2010). Translation from Italian provided by the authors of this paper.
  • [6] Isola Memmiana, meaning Memmo’s Island, is one of the most famous names given to theintervention.
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