Palace Coup d’Etat

  • contemporary architecture

Russia’s only finalist in the competitive bid for the reconstruction project of Saint Petersburg’s “New Holland” district (yes, Saint Petersburg has a New Holland of its own – translator’s note) was “Studio 44”. Archi.ru is publishing Nikita Yavein and his team’s comments on their plan of reviving this Saint Petersburg’s arguably most enigmatic island.


“We realized that, creating a new public area in Saint Petersburg, it makes no sense to lay an emphasis on its immensity or, say, innovativeness – because what the former capital really lacks is places for informal gatherings of people - Nikita Yavein explains - today this city has only one public area – the world-famous Palace Square that incorporates, to a large extent, the features of the “empire” image of Saint Petersburg. So, we, nothing more nor less, decided to create an alternative to the Palace Square that would be open to everything unconventional and innovative”. The antithesis of the Palace Square in reconstruction plan of New Holland becomes the inland triangle with a pond in its middle. The architects came up with the idea how to use it to its fullest potential: the designed water lockage will make it possible, on the one side, to keep the navigation for the small craft (in order to do this, “Studio 44” goes as far as to make a new channel that will connect the pond with the Admiralteisky Channel) and, on the other side, will provide an opportunity for cleaning, heating or freezing the water in the pond. Thus, the pond will be swimmable in the summertime while in the wintertime it can be turned into a skating rink or even dried up and converted into an open-air venue. In the latter case the entire area turns into a large open-air festival center, its entrance lobby being the gigantic arch of the translucent roof covering the building of the former smithery. The numerous cultural functions such as theaters, art shops and studios, as well as sores and cafes, according to “Studio 44” project, will be placed in the former storage buildings of mast wood that constitute most of the housing of New Holland. These buildings, originally used for drying the mast wood (the logs used to be placed vertically), are uniquely structured: they consist of fifty compartments 33x9x20 meters. According to the architects, these “boxes” can accommodate virtually any function one can possibly think of – from a lecture hall and an art gallery to a small loft movie theater. As is known from history, initially there were to have been built three such buildings on the island but the last one, running alongside the Admiralteisky Channel, never was built.On this spot the architects plan to make a park - in memory of the mast wood that was once kept here, they will call it “Korabelnaya Roscha” (“Ship Coppice”). From the sides, the coppice is flanked by multifunctional pavilions meant for holding large-scale events. According to the authors’ plan, the tall trees will create a kind of “penetrable wall” between New Holland and the outside world – which will create the opportunity to preserve the romantic aura of the unconquerable fortress, at the same time turning it into a picturesque park open to any even-organizing initiative.
Text by: Nikita Yavein, Anna Martovitskaya

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  • Andrey Gnezdilov
  • Natalia Zaichenko
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  • Julia  Tryaskina
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  • Polina Voevodina
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  • Sergei Tchoban
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  • Alexander Brovkin
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  • Ekaterina Gren
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  • Levon Ayrapetov
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  • Arseny Leonovich
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  • Aleksey Ginzburg
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