As an answer to the post on Avenue Foch I have received an interesting mail from my friend Vadim Litovchenko, showing similarities and differences with the Kutuzovskaiya Prospekt in Moscow (the entry to the city from the Minsk Motorway). This has reminded Karl-Marx Allée in Berlin, that I visited two years ago. In both cases, showcases for the Stalinist urbanism of the 1950s. But as always, I’m not here to talk politics (both street have survived regime changes and they will probably do it again in the next centuries), but about how space is determined by some design ideas. Besides, I’m more fond on Groucho than on Karl.
Both cases are just huge; both streets are over 3 km long and 100 m wide. Kutuzovskaiya (honoring Marshal Kutuzov, the defender of Moscow against Napoleon) has substantially more cars, but what was relevant for design was the relation between volumes and perspective (and with a 100 m wide street this asks for high volumes); both cases show axis that are not straight (a departure from Avenue Foch), with elements that distort the linearity of that space, as the exchange with Moscow’s third beltway of the gigantic Straussberg Platz. But anyway there are spaces by the buildings that are rather pleasant in Moscow, and the images and story told by Vadim show a similar situation in Moscow (a city I have never visited).
The issue is not whether these streets are freeways or not (Avenue Foch was not one, I just sometimes force a bit the reasoning), but if they are still streets as a unitary space. They are finally large linear spaces in which different legibility scales are overlapped, with subsequent use experiences, marked by the definition of vegetation and lateral alleys.