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Row erupts as LDA nabs MVRDV's Moscow prize

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Dutch star MVRDV has reacted angrily after being replaced by British practice LDA Design on a project to overhaul Moscow’s Hammer and Sickle factory

The firm, which won a high-profile contest to land the job in April, has warned that the 58ha former steelworks now faces a more ‘short-term’ development vision, which could place its environmental credentials and heritage at risk.

LDA Design and UHA London, which were named on the five-strong shortlist in the original competition, signed a contract for the £3 billion job last week.

The other finalists for the 1.8km² mixed-use redevelopment backed by site owner DON-Stroy Invest and the City of Moscow were Russia’s Mega Project, Ateliers Lion Associes of France and Dutch firm De Archtecten CIE.

MVRDV said that ‘despite serious efforts’, DON-Stroy had ‘refused to negotiate a deal that would allow MVRDV to develop the design further in a qualitative manner’.

It continued: ‘MVRDV is no longer involved in the project and fears that the site will be developed with a short-term vision contradictory to the ambition of the City of Moscow to create a green and vibrant, high-quality public urban area with preservation of the factory’s great history.’

The historic Hammer and Sickle factory was a symbolic landmark in the former Soviet Union – a lynchpin of the 1917 October Revolution and Russia’s 1941-45 Great Patriotic War effort but it is now disused.

MVRDV’s winning scheme proposed preserving a number of the former factory’s chimneys, pipes and other structures, which would be integrated into new buildings.

LDA Design’s and UHA London’s chosen design – planned to complete in 2021 – will instead create a new mixed-use community centred around a public park on the city-centre brownfield site.

Marina Khrustaleva of the Moscow Architecture Preservation Society commented: ‘LDA Design`s project is futuristic and very unusual for Moscow, while the project of MVRDV respects the “genius loci” – the memories of the old steel factory.’

She added that the chimneys, styling and scale of MVRDV’s proposed residential blocks ‘provide continuity, which is so often broken in Russia’.

Tthe developer said the competition result was ‘a recommendation only for the owner and that DON-Stroy Invest had to choose their partner for the further development of the project.’

It added that, despite initial doubt’ over how the duo’s scheme could be realised, ‘after detailed review and further discussions with LDA Design supported by UHA London we concluded […] we could create a really significant in Moscow of worldwide importance’.

LDA Design partner Bernie Foulkes said: ‘Our development solution is aimed at delivering the broadest range of long-term environmental benefits for this site and for this part of the city, mainly through the creation of a new city district formed around a new park and respecting the site’s history by making the workers’ memorial a key feature in the park.’

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