People Are Having Lots of Public Sex in Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s New Moscow Park—and the Architect Is Thrilled

Call it the Moscow Mamba.

A couple takes a selfie in Zaryadye Park in central Moscow. Photo: YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images.

As Moscow’s Zaryadye Park approaches its first birthday next month, the city’s chief architect, Sergei Kuznetsov, is defending the Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed green space for an unexpected feature: its aphrodisiacal properties. Just a stone’s throw from the Kremlin, the firm’s carefully crafted experiment in “wild urbanism” has lived up to its billing, apparently, becoming something of a hotbed for outdoor lovemaking.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented number of cases where people are having sex here at Zaryadye,” Kuznetsov told Russian media. Indeed, several couples have been caught on the park’s many CCTV cameras.

Inaugurated by the Russian President Vladimir Putin last September, the $245 million park’s design was led by the New York-based studio that created the High Line in New York and The Broad in Los Angeles. Diller Scofidio + Renfro is also working on the expansion of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

In 2012, the city of Moscow and Kuznetsov organized a design competition to create the Russian capital’s first large, new public park in five decades. From 90 submissions, a consortium of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Hargreaves Associates, and Citymakers, was selected for their ambitious concept. When the park design was completed, it wasn’t hard to see why.


People walk along a bridge in Zaryadye Park next to St. Basil’s Cathedral (R) and Spasskaya tower (L) in central Moscow. Photo by Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images.

Built on a site where a vast, 3,000-room Soviet-era hotel used to stand, Zaryadye Park boasts an array of striking features: an amphitheater with a glass canopy, flora-covered terraces, green slopes with stunning views of the city, and a walkway that cantilevers some 230 feet over the Moscow river without support.

“The park should describe the Russian soul,” Petr Kudryavtsev told the New York Times last year. He praised the park’s voyeuristic qualities, calling it “a place where you can hide and where you can also see everything around you.” There’s no arguing at least one of those points.

According to the Moskva news agency, Kuznetsov correlated the uptick in public copulation with the safety and comfort that visitors and residents feel in the Russian capital.

Of course, not everyone is a fan of the public hookups. According to Times newspaper, the ultra-conservative MP Vitaly Milonov has urged the police to arrest any “copulating beasts” found in the park, saying “they are just yobs and they should be treated as such.” (Being caught having sex in a public place in Russia can get you up to 15 days of jail time.)

The park’s creators, however, couldn’t be more thrilled by the PDA their work has inspired. “I love this!” star architect Charles Renfro told artnet News in an email. “What freedom our park has brought to Moscow, and what tolerance it seems to be engendering from the authorities.”

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