Visualization of the Crystal Tower with the Moscow Skyline in the bottom left cornerIn early 2008, Moscow's Public and Architectural Council granted preliminary planning permission for Crystal Island, a proposed development on the metropolis's Nagatino Peninsula. Once constructed, Crystal Island in Moscow will be 450m high, cover an area of almost half a million square meters and contain a total floor area of 2.5 million square meters. The $4 billion project is scheduled to be built within the next 5 years. The designer of both Russia Tower and Crystal Island is U.K. architectural firm Foster & Partners, which designed the new Wembley Stadium in London and a terminal for Beijing's airport.

At 450 m the scheme is one of the tallest structures enclosing the largest volume, on the planet. It also creates a spectacular new emblem on the Moscow skyline. Conceived as a self-contained city within a city, it contains a rich mix of buildings including museums, theaters, and cinemas, to ensure it becomes a major new destination for the whole of Moscow.

Diagram of the interior of the Crystal Island

Floor area alone will be four times the size of Pentagon in Washington DC., and seven time larger than the completed Burj Dubai. One of the world’s most ambitious building projects, Crystal Island has been granted preliminary planning permission in Moscow. Enclosed within a vast mega structure covering a total floor area of 2.5 million square meters (27 million square feet) – the project’s scale is unprecedented.

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.

A photo of a scale model of the Crystal IslandA 3D rendering of the Crystal Island surrounded by its park and by the rest of MoscowThe 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. Parkland around the building will offer ice-skating and cross-country skiing in winter. The intention is also to create two public viewing platforms. Unusually, more than half of the space will be below ground, including 14,000 parking spaces.

The internal built volumes of over one million square metres (more than 10 million square feet) 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 winter gardens, 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.

Enclosure panels on a dynamic geometry are slotted into the structural framing to 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.

Project Area:

  • A picture of the sun rising behnd the iron framework of the Crystal IslandTotal Gross External Area: (Above Ground): 1,100,000m2
  • Site Area: 440,000m2


  • Public 360 degree Top Observation Deck (at 300m level): 3000 m2 gross external area
  • Public 360deg Main Observation Deck(150m ): 6000 m2
  • Serviced apartments – approx. 900 units(80m to 140m): 265,000 m2
  • Hotel – approx. 3000 keys(12m to 80m ): 245,000 m2
  • Offices (40m to 80m): 75,000 m2
  • Retail, Catering, Entertainment (0m to 40m ): 160,000 m2
  • Museum and IMAX (0m to 40m ); 100,000 m2
  • Theatres – 1500, 750, 750 seats (0m to 40m): 95,000 m2
  • School – 500 students (0m to 40m): 4000 m2
  • Covered Public Space: 150,000 m2
  • Sub-Total Above Ground: 1,100,000 m2
(Information comes courtesy of the Wikipedia amongst other sources.)

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