Studio Fink and Matthew Childs Design collaborated on a temporary 850 meters long landscape play installation in Moscow. During its two-week existence in September 2018 the installation was enjoyed by 70000 people.
The project was part of the 2018 Moscow International Landscape Festival. Only in its second year is putting itself on the global map of garden festivals with over 1500 realised professional projects selected through international and national competitions. In addition, 1100 small amateur gardens were constructed throughout the city.
The large-scale temporary transformation of Tverskoy Boulevard , one of the main historical thoroughfares in central Moscow presented many formidable challenges both in design and logistics. The 850 meter section forms a central part of the Boulevard Ring and is one of the busiest places in Moscow. It provides both a magnificent mature green linear space as well as cultural associations with many Russian writers, for example Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Ivan Bunin, Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Bulgakov.
As a city resource it is not only a wonderful promenade but also an important pedestrian car free artery for Muscovites. When initially contemplating the design of the installation Peter Fink and Mathew Childs noticed that people generally moved directly through the boulevard at speed reflective of the modern pace of life rather than stopping to socialise or linger.
Mathew says, “The theme of the festival this year was bright colours so I was super excited to get the opportunity to work with a master of colour in landscape design, Peter Fink.”
Peter said “To make an impact on this scale we used a clear narrative of transition between joyful vibrant colours and everything in the scheme was designed as a playful landscape intervention. “
Through colour and play, the installation called ‘slowdown’ was conceived with the aim of increasing interaction between people and capturing the imagination of both young and old. As a result, the boulevard was transformed into a destination for playful activity rather than just a thoroughfare. Both Peter and Mathew felt that temporary landscapes such as this are a great way of demonstrating the benefit of green interactive spaces in our cities for both mental and physical wellbeing. It is hoped that this installation which was so positively received will help to influence the city administration, placing gardens and play spaces firmly on the public space agenda in this dynamic and rapidly growing Moscow.
At the beginning of the boulevard shard like structures painted vibrant clashing colours and densely planted with annuals and perennials set the scene for an energetic and exciting experience beyond. The natural paths pedestrians usually take here in a linear fashion were interrupted causing people to meander and an elevated bright red staircase with luminous yellow stairs faced the boulevard inviting visitors to view the boulevard beyond.
Peter said: “The beginning of the installation at this end centred on the statue of the scientist Kliment Timiryazev, depicted in the gown of Cambridge University where he was awarded an honorary doctorate for his pioneering work on photosynthesis and chlorophyll. It felt therefore interesting to me as an homage to use in addition to plants the colour green in the context of all the spectral colours of sunlight .“
Onwards the full 850m of tree-lined Avenue was festooned from every tree with a colourful curtains formed from kilometres of vertically hanging ribbons. The progression of colour from tree to tree created a breeze activated festive wave as well as strong colourful narrative for the individual play zones. The narrative path was further marked giant footprints that either contained plants or different play activities in addition to specific play activity islands.
The true joy of the installation however came from the expansive array of play activities from trampolines, to play ball and sandpits, craft areas, tunnels filled with an eccentric display or artificial Flora, climbing frames, balancing logs, playful learning and much more.
There were also some happy surprises, for example, the magical forest tunnels intended to be explored by children on tricycles were a huge hit with adults and seniors taking selfies and escaping reality for a few moments.
Mathew said “for me the true success of the installation was not its design, horticultural or aesthetic contribution, but the fact the space was living and breathing fun. It did exactly what we wanted – encouraged children and adults alike to take time out and play. 70,000 people visited the installation – that’s 70,000 people having fun!
Studio Fink Ltd
Design team | Peter Fink + Richard Marfiak
Mathew Childs Design
Design team | Mathew Childs