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Foster 'to encase Moscow suburb in glass'

Foster and Partners has refused to comment on recent reports that the septuagenarian starchitect is set to build a giant glass dome over an entire suburb of Moscow.

The futuristic project would be the third massive development by the 73-year-old in the Russian capital as he continues to transform the city, despite the howls of derision from Russian architecture critics.

Moscow's mayor, Yuriy Luzhkov, is reported to have approved the £1.6 billion project, and Russia's bigwigs believe it could emulate the global status of Foster's Swiss Re.

The suburb will be built within a giant glass cone, on a site near the Moskva River in the south of the city.

Those inside the cone will be able to see through its transparent skin, but will be shielded from the brutal Russian winter, where last year the temperature plummeted to -61°C.

The exact design of the cone is being kept under wraps, and no artist's impression has been released. However, Russian officials are said to be very excited.

According to Moscow's chief architect, Aleksander Kuzmin, the cone itself will be a 20ha area split into six levels, each one with several floors.

'It's going to be quite interesting, and will stretch over 2.5 million m 2at a height of 150m,' said Kuzmin.

'It will look a bit like a 20ha crystal circus tent. Inside will be a large number of hotels, a recreational zone, apartments, entertainments, a stadium and shops. You'll be able to settle there and never leave the area.'

The project is being commissioned by Shalva Chigirinsky, one of Russia's richest and most powerful property developers. His firm, ST Development, is said to be strongly connected to Moscow's mayor Luzhkov.

by Richard Vaughan

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