More Moscow projects going underground

The face of Moscow is rapidly changing with more and more high-rise buildings, hotels and luxury apartments springing up across the city. But it is not just the skyline which is transforming. Work is going on below the surface too.

Of course, underground projects aren’t new. For instance, a shopping centre near one of the main metro stations in Moscow is 10 years old. It was the first underground retail complex to be built in the whole of Russia and is still a favourite among Muscovites. It might be great for shopping but it’s important in other ways too.

The main architect in the centre’s construction, Mikhail Posokhin, says it has played a significant part in Moscow’s development.

The general strategy is to develop underground space: to build parking lots, interchanges, entertainment centres. Right now, it is impossible to build a large department store overground in downtown Moscow,

Aleksandr Levchenko, Deputy Head of Moscow City Development Department

“Underground architecture plays a very important role in  modern city construction. This was a so-called pilot project, implying construction of more in the future,” the architect said.

And one such venture is an underground tunnel which is 14 M wide and just over 1 KM long. It might be hard to picture now but, by the end of December 2007 the tunnel will have three lanes for cars to travel from the Moscow regions to the city centre. As well as providing a new route for cars, the tunnel will have metro tracks inside to help alleviate Moscow’s notoriously bad traffic problems. The tunnel will also provide ventilation and have workers inside to ensure 24 hour communication.

But exactly how safe is it to travel for so long so deep underground?

“There is a smoke exhaust system which ensures safety underground. Also a third service tunnel will be used to evacuate people in case of emergency,” explained Yury Alekseev, Chief Engineer of “Tunnel 2001”.

With underground projects ranging from roads, shopping centres and of course, parking, it seems one of the ways for the future in Moscow is downwards.