As part of the major renovation of the Balchug Island riverfront in 2020/21, Bureau A4 developed the concept and design documents for the upgrade of Kosmodamianskaya Embankment. The objective was to make the place more welcoming by providing a range of pedestrian facilities while emphasizing the identity of a historical neighborhood. As a result, the 1,8-kilometre-long riverfront area was transformed into a major attraction for people of all ages and walks of life. The panoramic view of the river and the iconic Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building makes it a perfect destination for morning jogging, afternoon bicycle rides with friends, evening walks with dogs or families, and romantic sunset dates.
Kosmodamianskaya Embankment is right in the heart of Moscow, lined with distinctive landmarks and prestigious apartment blocks. The architects engaged the local community to gain insights into the needs and challenges of the area. The most popular request was to bring back the once prosperous green landscaping of the embankment. For this reason, additional 300 mature trees were planted and plenty of shrubs scattered along the driveway to protect pedestrians from dust and create a friendly barrier between the sidewalk and the road. The total area of flower beds on Kosmodamianskaya Embankment is nearly 3.000 m2. Flower varieties along the riverfront form a smooth and continuous color gradient — from yellow-orange to purple pink shades.
One of the main challenges of the area was the lack of pedestrian links between the embankment and the adjacent areas: crossing the driveway to get to the river was hardly possible To enhance connectivity, Bureau A4 jointly with the city mobility department designed frequent crosswalks and tied the residential courtyards into the general pedestrian network.
The pocket park next to the apartment block at Kosmodamianskaya, 4/22 offers the best overview of the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building, one of Moscow’s iconic Seven Sisters. Naturally, the site is one of the biggest attractions of the area. As part of the landscape renovation project, the park was highlighted by a pavilion evoking the Church of Cosmas and Damian which gave the name to the embankment and was demolished in the Soviet era. The design of the pavilion top references the ornamental carving on the tholobate of the church. The rest of the story is displayed on a pylon inside the pavilion.
There are a dozen seating spaces and recreational areas scattered along the route, yet only three viewpoints with their own distinctive design of street furniture. The benches facing the House of Music were inspired by the shape of organ pipes in stainless steel and the chrome decoration on the buildings’ facade, their surface mirroring the glistening water of the Moskva River. The prestigious Soviet residential block at No 32/34 has several matching benches with screens for climbing plants that create secluded, intimate spaces.
The style of street furniture differs in different zones. In the courtyards, where the residents were used to the traditional bench designs and perceived them as a part of the local identity, there are vintage-style benches in dark wood. In the public riverfront areas, the design is light, bright, and modern.