Alignment of Planets… and Sport Stars

  • contemporary architecture

“Studio 44” Architectural Workshop developed the project for building an 18-thousand-square-meters-strong track-and-field sports center at Yuri Gagarin Avenue in Saint Petersburg. However, as often is the case, the material implementation was vastly different from the original idea.


  • Architect:

    Nikita Yavein

    Nikita Yavein
  • Firm:
    Studio 44
  • Object:
    Athletic complex in Moscow district, St.Petersburg
  • Address:
    Russia. St. Petersburg
  • Design Team:
    concept: N.I. Javein, N.N. Arhipova, J.N. Ashmetev, M.S. Vinogradova, V.B. Ponomarev, V.A. Romantsev with participation of: S.I. Aksenov, G.S. Snezhkin; project: N.I. Javein, V.A. Zenkevich, N.A. Smolin, J.V. Smolina, N.I. Poznyanskaya, T. A. Andreeva, M.O. Fedorov, with participation of: M.N. Zamelova; constructors: D.P. Kresov, V.I. Gershtein.
The Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex on Yuri Gagarin Avenue is one of Saint Petersburg’s most famous and imposing buildings. The majestic building of the SCC that can accommodate 25 000 spectators at a time, was designed by the architects N.Baranov and I.Chaiko for the Olympics held in Soviet Russia back in 1980, and has the shape of a huge cylinder with a diameter of some 160 meters, mounted on a circular stylobate. For decades, the area surrounding the SCC remained one giant wasteland. Later on, in the Post-Soviet era, the city made several attempts at improving the wasteland and building a number of sports infrastructure objects on it but the projects were inevitably ruled out by Saint Petersburg city council. Eventually, “Studio 44” was attached to the project. And, in spite of the fact that the target specification included redesigning only one object – track and field complex to the South-West of SCC – the architects began by exploring the development prospects of the entire district. The concept offered by “Studio 44” provides for building here a whole “sports quarter”, thanks to which the Moskovsky district and the whole city are getting a number of venues for a variety of sports. The proximity of the avenue that bears the name of Russia’s first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, as well as the very shape of the SCC building prompted the architects the general image idea of the ensemble they were creating: around the main centerpiece, they designed a whole system of round structures of smaller diameter. On the layout, this looks a lot like the Solar System. Taking this idea even further, the authors even went as far as to inscribe the oval of the stadium into the building that looks a perfect circle on the layout. They gave the same shape to the multi-level parking lots, translucent domes above the atrium spaces and open green courtyards. As for the track and field center itself, it was designed on the site with an area of 6.42 hectares, located in the South-East part of the block, on the corner of Yuri Gagarin Avenue and Basseinaya Street. Basically, this IS the already-mentioned stadium, surrounded by a roofed grand stand and fringed by a colonnade.The latter describes a circle with a diameter of about 200 meters and encompasses also a part of the alley that leads from the Basseinaya Street to SCC. Last year, the concept proposed by “Studio 44” was examined at Town Planning Council of Saint Petersburg and was almost unilaterally approved. Presently, however, the city does not have the budget for the entire project, and so far only the track and field center (that was initially required from the architects) is under construction. However, as often is the case, a lot of changes were made along the way: the initial architectural idea underwent some substantial corrections in accordance with the “real needs”. The most radical of changes was that of the shape of the future construction: the commissioner considered a trapeze shape far more efficient and ergonomic. And, while in the original concept, the “orbit” of the stadium was rhymed with the colonnade, now the stadium itself was turned into a track and field racecourse with jogging tracks and sectors meant for various kinds of exercise, covered with an aluminum dome, lined with square windows. The colonnade, on the other hand, moved over to the facades of the main volume, turning into flat pylons turned in the direction of the center of the hemisphere faced with metal. The grand stands, the spectators’ seats, and the auxiliary premises are all grouped under the slanted roof, while the façade wall behind the pylons is fully glass-covered.
Text by: Nikita Yavein, Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by Anton Mizonov

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