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Only Kremlin stays intact in Moscow rebuilding

Moscow's new construction plan envisions 40 per cent of the city to be rebuilt by the year 2020.

india Updated: Nov 02, 2006 08:34 IST

As construction companies knock down entire streets in the Russian capital to build "Moscow City", it seems only the Kremlin remains intact.

A metropolis of eleven million, Moscow's new construction plan envisions 40 per cent of the city to be rebuilt by the year 2020, giving the former centre of the Soviet Union a new cosmopolitan feel.

Moscow has a history of radical renewal. In 1935, Stalin ordered a general plan for the complete re-conception of the city. Broad radial roads were built and up went hulking Soviet-style buildings.

In international comparison, Moscow today particularly lacks office space. In New York, 42 million square metres of it were let out last year, while in London it was 28 million square metres.

In Moscow, a mere three million square metres were available—a circumstance soon to change. The city development plan assesses a need for 25 million square metres of office space by the year 2020.

"Moscow City" is the name of the cutting-edge skyscraper complex expected to be completed by 2010.

At the heart of "Moscow City", Europe's highest building is slowly taking shape. The "Federation" skyscraper will rise 440 metres.

Experts estimate that up to 100,000 people will live and work in Moscow's "Manhattan".

And in the future, Moscow's elite will be able to escape growing traffic chaos via a network of helicopter pads.

The housing market is also booming. Soviet apartment blocks are a ramshackle, and many new apartments need to be built to conform to the rising expectations of the middle class.

In Soviet times, the standard was 10 to 12 square metres per person. Now, 30 to 40 square metres per person is the norm. In particular the old so-called "khrushchevski", fall victim to the city's current demolition wave.

To remedy urgent housing problems of the post-Stalin era, five-storied buildings made from prefabricated slabs were constructed in the 1960s under communist leader Nikita Khrushchev.

The Moscow building boom also has a downside. As old houses and cultural monuments are demolished in the city centre, architects regret the loss of historical building substance.

Fired by the revenues of petroleum and gas exports, real estate prices have risen fivefold since 2000. Even in the suburbs, a square metre of living space is worth at least euro 3,200 ($4,063).

In a very short period, Moscow has become the world's most expensive metropole—costlier than London, New York and Tokyo.