Urban Development Plan

The first known development plan for Moscow was created in 1596-97 for Tsar Boris Godunov, although the original has not survived. It was used as the foundation for later plans, such as Peter’s Plan, Sigismund’s Plan and others drafted in the 17th century.

The city’s appearance changed considerably during the reign of Tsar Peter the Great. In 1700, Peter issued a decree banning the construction of wooden structures in the city centre to replace ones destroyed by fire. The decree required that property owners build stone buildings «along the road, not in yards,» and that all structures be designed by professional architects.

Peter banned building with stone in 1714, and subsequently there was only limited new construction or restoration of old structures in Moscow. In 1728, however, after Tsar Peter’s death, the construction of stone buildings in Moscow was permitted again.

In 1731, Empress Anna Ioanovna ordered a new plan for Moscow, which was published in 1739. Ivan Michurin created the plan based on the results of land surveys. This was the first plan that took into account the actual relief of the land in Moscow.

In 1762, the Building Commission for St Petersburg and Moscow was established. In 1763, the Senate required that layouts be drawn up for all cities in all regions of Russia. The same year, Quartermaster-General Pyotr Ivashov composed a layout of Moscow and the surrounding area, while another plan was drafted under the supervision of Major-General Gorikhvostov, an engineer.

In 1774, a special department was established for urban planning and the improvement of construction.

The General Development Plan of 1775, the most important Moscow plan produced in the late 18th century, was commissioned by Empress Catherine the Great following two disasters that had recently struck the city, the plague of 1771 and the fires of 1773. The plan was based on Gorikhvostov’s 1763 effort.

However, the plan could not be followed precisely. It had to be adapted to the actual conditions in Moscow.

Several additional plans appeared in the last decade of Catherine’s reign. The first was drawn in 1789 by architectural assistant first class Lieutenant Ivan Marchenkov. Prince Prozorovsky, the governor of Moscow, formed a special group in 1792 to develop a new plan. In 1796, merchant Timofei Polezhayev financed the publication of a plan of Moscow and a reference book.

In 1812, during Napoleon’s occupation of Moscow, a fire broke out in the city. In four days, the conflagration destroyed most of the predominately wooden city. The Moscow Commission for Building was established in 1813 to oversee the restoration of the city. The commission’s plan, produced in 1818, stood at the centre of the massive effort to rebuild the city. Its emphasis on classical architecture dominated urban planning in Moscow until the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917 marked the beginning of a new period in Moscow’s development. The new leadership of the city and the country supported new and innovative development plans for Moscow as the capital of the world’s first communist state.

Professor Boris Sakulin was the first to offer a comprehensive approach to the planning of big cities. In 1918, he composed a plan for Moscow, which envisaged an economic centre surrounded by three residential rings. The Kremlin and first two rings would form Greater Moscow, with a «green belt» between the rings.

Professor S. Shestakov developed another interesting plan for Greater Moscow between 1921 and 1925, which would have extended the city’s boundaries by 120 km in every direction.

The Architectural Bureau for Planning Central Moscow and Suburbs, established in 1918, produced the most detailed city planning drafts for the new Moscow. Architects Ivan Zholtovsky and Alexei Shchusev supervised the first Soviet plan for Moscow’s reconstruction, published in 1923. Although their plan was the most ambitious urban planning project of the time, it was already outdated by the mid-1920s. It had no answers for the latest challenges and requirements of the time. The plan was never officially approved.

The Soviet government opted instead to hold a competition for the best urban development plan for Moscow. Leading architects from around the world submitted proposals, including G. Krasin, G. Mayer, V. Kratyuk, the VOPRA Russian group of young «Proletarian Architects» (Baburov, Karpov, Kychakov, Vasilyev, Fridman), N. Ladovsky, E. May, S. Gorny, Le Corbusier and others. Some went so far as to propose demolishing the existing city and rebuilding it entirely. However, the winning proposal preserved Moscow’s centuries-old planning traditions.

Work on the first stage of Moscow’s city-planning transformation began after the Communist Party Central Committee’s plenary meeting in July 1931, which produced a resolution on urban development in Russia. The decisions made at that plenary meeting set in motion the first comprehensive project to develop the nation’s capital. The city development plan was officially adopted in 1935. Work on the plan implementation was suspended in 1941-45 while the Soviet Union was fighting in World War II.

In 1951, the government adopted a ten-year plan for Moscow’s reconstruction. The architect Dmitry Chechulin was appointed to manage the project. The new plan largely derived from the General Plan of 1935, while also incorporating several innovative proposals to improve the city planning. The changes mostly concerned main highways and entrances to the city, as well as the development of reserve areas.

The plan called for a gradual transition to prefabricated panel construction as well as new facilities to manufacture the necessary building materials. The country’s builders gathered for a nationwide conference in 1954 to develop a strategy for transitioning to new building methods, including standardised designs and industrialised construction.

In 1960, a feasibility study began for the next Urban Development Plan for Moscow. The plan was to expand the city to include everything within the MKAD ring road, which currently encircles the city. The feasibility study was approved by the government in 1966, and work began to finalise the development plan. The ten-year period for the development and reconstruction of Moscow (1961-1970) was in fact the first stage of the implementation of the new Urban Development Plan.

The next Urban Development Plan was adopted in 1971 for the period from 1985 to 1990, which included projections as far out as the year 2000. Development was planned within the boundary of the MKAD road, and several areas outside it were designated for the capital’s expansion to the Moscow Region. However, that plan was not fully implemented due to the economic problems Russia faced in the 1970s and 1980s.

The 1990s were a period of profound political and economic change in Russia, bringing with it more problems but also new hope that Moscow could be restored to its former glory and prosperity. A new urban development plan was drafted, which will take Moscow up to the year 2020. Analysts have pointed out that the new plan is largely focused on attracting investors to the city.

In 2007, the city’s chief architect Alexander Kuzmin said it was time Moscow opted for a «plan of necessity» rather than «a plan of possibility.» It took more than three years to work out an adjusted version of the Urban Development Plan that runs to 2025. The authorities repeatedly sent it back for finalising and debate at public hearings in all of Moscow’s administrative districts. The Moscow City Duma adopted the Urban Development Plan to 2025 (inclusive) in the third and final reading on May 5, 2010.