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Fandakova: Sofia and Moscow have close visions for changing cities to improve the urban environment for the benefit of the people

Urban architectural policies and transformation of public spaces; development of pedestrian zones and places of culture, urban transport and alternative means of transport. These are some of the ideas that Sofia and Moscow are developing. Big cities address common challenges and direct their visions for the development to similar priorities in terms of urban planning, commented in public the chief architects of Sofia and Moscow, Zdravko Zdravkov and Sergei Kuznetsov at the first event “City Talks” in the presence of the Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova.

Sofia and Moscow have close visions for the renovation and change of cities to improve the urban environment for the benefit of the people, said Yordanka Fandakova in her speech at the forum. Cities also have common problems to solve - development and extension of the sidewalks, planting of more trees, improving the organization of parking areas, reducing advertisements in the city, repairing the facades of buildings and removing aerial cable networks, improving the city information system, organizing more outdoor cultural events. 

The result that Moscow has achieved in recent years is impressive. The scale is different, but the direction is important, said also Mayor Fandakova. A year ago, the Danish urbanist, Prof. Architect Jan Gehl, who had also worked for Moscow, presented in Sofia the report "Sofia - a city for people.  Architect Zdravko Zdravkov presented the work done this year in line with the recommendations in the report, as well as some of the forthcoming activities that are already under way. 

Architect Kuznetsov informed the audience about Moscow's experience in this area – development of master plans, conducting architectural contests and renovating urban spaces.

Special emphasis was put on international architectural contests. Sofia has already announced one for the important central space around the "Sveta Nedelya" church, where in recent years Sofia Municipality funded archaeological studies. 

We started on a road to transform our cities from "cities of automobiles and entrepreneurs" to "cities of the people", said the Chief Architect of Sofia, Zdravko Zdravkov. The direction is towards a complete change in the city that prioritizes pedestrian spaces, removal of illegal advertising and tidying up the city. The experience in Moscow is huge and this gives us an advantage, so that we can take the best of their solutions and implement them in Sofia too, also commented Arch. Zdravkov.

“I see great potential in Sofia, and we have to say that here such an acute problem with traffic congestion that we had in Moscow a few years ago, is missing. Sofia is very green and in a short time you can make many positive changes”, said the Chief Architect of Moscow.

Serious restriction of parking spaces in the center was introduced in Moscow and this is perceived positively by most people, said Moscow's Chief Architect, Sergey Kuznetsov. According to him, the reduction of road transport and parking in the city center gives a positive result.

Along with the transformation of public spaces, improving urban transport, the cycling system continues to evolve towards the development of those missing units of cycle paths infrastructure in order to make a ‘bicycle ring’, explained Architect Zdravkov.

"City Talks" is an event initiated by the Chief Architect of Sofia Municipality, Zdravko Zdravkov. The day is specially chosen - the first Monday of October, which is the International Day of Architecture. The motto for this year is "Architecture for a Better World."