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In an interview with, the urbanist shared his impressions of working in the capital and explained how public spaces help relieve stress.

Cities are constantly changing, adapting to the needs of the residents. Today, many urbanists are thinking about how the environment affects people, what should become an integral part of the megacities of the future, and how cities can use infrastructure to make people healthier. The healing environment is a major urban trend that addresses these issues.

Hiroki Matsuura, urbanist, architect, partner and chief designer of Maxwan bureau, founder of the MASA architects workshop took part in IV Forum of Social Innovation of the Regions… He spoke at the session “From Healing Space to … The Future of Infrastructure.” In an interview with, the expert told what a healing environment is, what unique experience in the field of urbanism Moscow could share with the world, and how things are going with following the trend in the Russian capital.

– What do you mean by the concept of “healing environment” in the city? How important is this trend for megacities?

– The idea of ​​a healing environment is to create a variety of ways to help people. After all, there is no universal recipe. We all have different problems and reasons for stress because we are all different.

When we talk about a healing environment, we mean layering. For example, beautiful trees that are well looked after and pleasant to look at can help some, lawns with comfortable resting places can help others. Someone needs physical activity in places adapted for this, someone likes to spend time near water, near fountains and ponds – all this is important for residents of large cities.

Since there is such a variety of public spaces, people can choose what is closest to them, what can heal them. It is important to create a diverse environment, only there we can help to heal. A striking example of such a multi-layered environment is the Healing Gardens of the international medical cluster in Skolkovo. Nine different zones affect different human senses and allow everyone to find the right way to reduce stress levels and improve overall psycho-emotional state.

– You participated in Russian competitions, presented projects for Zaryadye Park and ZIL, developed the concept of Healing Gardens in the international medical cluster, and are now working on landscape design at the Skolkovo innovation center. What attracts you to the capital of Russia? How does work in Moscow differ from work in other cities?

– The most interesting thing about working in Russia is that it has such a deep and rich history and traditions that are absolutely exotic and mystical for me. It’s like walking in the woods, where you don’t know what awaits you next. It can be both good and bad things, but personally I really like walking in the Russian forest, metaphorically speaking.

Another interesting point is that Russia is still going through a rather dynamic moment in its history. Perestroika ended only in the 1990s, some 30 years have passed since then, and the country is still changing. Comparing with the place where I live now, with the Netherlands, it can be said that everything is more predictable there. And here everything is so energetic. Therefore, I feel very motivated and appreciate the opportunity to work in such a place.

– What experience in the field of urbanism could Moscow share with the world?

– I think the renovation of buildings in Moscow can serve as a good example. This is a great model that the world can adopt because the city has really changed a lot in a short period of time.

I remember when this program was just starting, there were so many overlaps throughout the city that it was impossible to walk calmly down the sidewalk. But now I really see how things have changed. Rebuilding and changing a city so dramatically in such a short time takes a lot of courage and is very inspiring.

– Are there buildings in Moscow that fit the concept of a healing environment?

“I think a lot of new buildings are being built in the city that are trying to fit this idea. For example, when greenery is used in the decoration of the walls, the entrance area is ennobled, soft comfortable chairs are placed. But personally, I think it’s not really what heals people.

The use of a lot of greenery in the design of a building – outside and inside – certainly affects the perception of a person. But besides the design, the architecture itself must be of high quality. This is why people still love historical buildings in Moscow. Built hundreds of years ago, they are still admired. Not only because they look good, but because people feel good in such buildings. This is one of the ways the mind can be healed. We have to be very careful not only to talk about some technical possibilities that make life better, because this is only part of the idea, but also about perception.

– What do you think the cities of the future look like? What will popular public spaces such as parks look like in the future?

– I think in the future, of course, everyone will be less dependent on machines. The infrastructure of most megacities is based on dependence on transport. But attitudes towards cars are changing and the number of pedestrians is increasing, so I think this will have a big impact on how cities will look in the future.

In addition, fewer road surfaces are needed. So in those cities that exist now, entangled in roads, it will be possible to get rid of asphalt and pay more attention to landscaping. All people love greenery.

And with more green spaces in the city, many animals, insects and birds will appear. This is also part of the healing environment. This is how I see the future. Cities will become closer to nature.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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