Presented to the Moscow Public and Architectural Council, Crystal Island is a highly anticipated new project. Located on the Nagatino Peninsula, edged by the Moscow River, it is located only 7.5 km from the Kremlin, and offers panoramic views over Moscow from a viewing platform at its apex.
Crystal Island will have a range of cultural, exhibition and performance facilities, approximately 3000 hotel rooms and 900 serviced apartments, as well as offices and shops, designed to maintain a dynamic and animated public realm throughout the day. Residents are able to work and live within a densely planned area where every amenity is within easy walking distance, including an international school for 500 students. Mixed-use also presents a strong case for energy balance, with individual components using energy at different times, while reinforcing the breadth of economic and social activity of the area.
The building’s spiraling form emerges majestically from a newly landscaped park, rising in converse directions to form a diagonal grid. This distinctive geometry extends throughout the project into the park. The result is that the scheme is seamlessly integrated into a new park landscape, which provides a range of activities throughout the year, including cross country skiing and ice skating in the winter.
The internal built volumes assume a staggered formation within the triangulated steel mega frame, extending flush against the sloping facetted glazed outer skin. This terracing creates a series of wintergardens, which form a breathable second layer and thermal buffer for the main building, shielding the interior spaces from Moscow’s extreme summer and winter climates. A vertical louvre system sheaths the internal facades to ensure privacy for the individual apartments.
Dynamic enclosure panels slotted into the structural framing allow daylight to penetrate deep into the heart of the scheme and can be controlled to modify the internal environment – closed in winter for extra warmth and opened in summer to allow natural ventilation. Energy management is at the heart of the design, with additional strategies to include on-site renewable and low-carbon energy generation.
Norman Foster said: “Crystal Island is one of the world’s most ambitious building projects and it represents a milestone in the 40 year history of the practice. It is the largest single building in the world, creating a year-round destination for Moscow and a sustainable, dynamic new urban quarter. It is a paradigm of compact, mixed-use, sustainable city planning, with an innovative energy strategy and ‘smart’ skin which buffers against climate extremes.”