Birzhevaya Square

Moscow, Russian Federation

A new public space gem at the heart of Moscow

As a part of a larger strategy to turn inner Moscow pedestrian, karres+brands was asked to transform Birzhevaya Square, in collaboration with Strelka KB. The square is located in the historic center of Moscow, a few hundred meters from the historical Red Square, and new Zaryadye Park. What at the end of the 18th century was the center of trade and financial activity is today largely dominated by cars at the main entry point to the Stock Exchange. At the same time the surrounding buildings are rich in detail and colorful eclectic architecture contrasting the current state of the public space. The transformation aims to exploit the high potentials of the site and create a unique public space at the heart of Moscow.


To clearly mark the presence of the square we introduced a carpet-like paving, which helps define and give identity to the place. The pattern is a reinterpretation of classical plaza motifs and is meant to communicate with, and reveal, the rich architectural context. Central to our design is a special water element at the intersection between the plaza border and its urban context. This will become a magnet for public life and be the symbol of the new public space. 

The pavement of the square consists of two shades of granite, one light grey color for the overall area of the square and a darker tone for the stripes. At the same time there is a further rich differentiation through the introduction of rough and smooth surfaces. Together this will underline the graphical impression of a woven wicker, a term that initially gave the area its name - Kitay Gorod. The different surfaces on the square will react with the changing weather conditions, and add another layer to the subtle changes of the public space over the day and the year. 

The fountain has been positioned with important view lines, sun direction and proportions in mind. It is located in the sunniest spot and marks the presence of the square from the adjoining streets. Through the vertical rotation of its core, it not only defines various spaces, but also diverse experience of water. Towards the street it raises to create a protective edge and mark the presence of the square, while towards the plaza and sunny side it defines gentle slopes where people can sit and enjoy the water. The fountain changes through the seasons. In hot summer days a film of water can flow down the slope into the pond. This thin layer can be a refreshing play element in hot days and provides not only a cooling effect but also a soothing sound experience. At special occasions the fountain can be drained and used for events and performances, where the slope will become functional as a sitting tribune. 

Through an intensive design process we have developed a rich and rigorous detailing of the fountain. Its ever-changing edge, has been carefully cut in 200 unique pieces. The base of the fountain is covered in an intricate pattern which intersects the edge, to create a public space element worthy of its architectural context. A new, subtle, symbol for Moscow’s public spaces.

Project data
Location ​Moscow, Russian Federation Google Maps
Assignment ​Design public space and water feature
Size ​0.3 hectares
Design ​2016 – 2017
Construction ​2017 – 2018
Status ​In progress
Client ​Moscow Municipality, Strelka KB
Team ​Bart Brands, Darius Reznek, Sander Vedder, Ida Pedersen, Justyna Chmielewska, Inga Zielonka
In collaboration with ​Strelka KB
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