“Two Miles” Operation

  • contemporary architecture

This September, Saint Petersburg has seen the final of the open contest for the best development concept of the historical downtown area. The list of the contestants included, among others, “Studio 44” architectural office, whose project got an honorable mention for its stylishness and feasibility.


  • Architect:

    Nikita Yavein

    Nikita Yavein
  • Firm:
    Studio 44
  • Object:
    Concept of development of the territories “Konyushennaya” and “Severnaya Kolomna – Novaya Gollandiya”
  • Address:
    Russia. St. Petersburg
  • Design Team:
    Authors of the project: N. Yavein, O. Yavein, M. Vinogradova, I. Grigoryev, I. Kozhin, V. Lemekhov, L. Likhacheva, A. Patrikeev, G. Snezhkin, M. Yavein Historical consultants: B. Kirikov, director of Saint Petersburg branch of Research Institute of Theory of Architecture and Town-planning of Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences A. Kobak, executive director of D.C. Likhachev Foundation, A. Margolis, co-chairman of Saint Petersburg branch of All-Russian Society for the Protection of Monuments and Culture. Transport development strategy: M. Petrovich, General Director of “House-planning Laboratory”

First of all, the architects did what might be called “taking inventory” of the vast historical and cultural legacy of the area – it was important for them to sort out which “growing points” were already underway for the city, which worked half their potential, and which were lying idle. The basic inference drawn by “Studio 44” can be put in this nutshell: “Konyushennaya” and “Severnaya Kolomna – Novaya Gollandiya (“New Holland”)” are the areas that concentrate all the best that the northern capital has to offer. It is the crossing spot of several Saint Petersburgs, completely different. These are the interfaith city, the imperial capital, the center of revolutionary struggle, a city of theaters and concert halls, and, of course, the city of bridges and unique granite embankments. In other words, this part of the city offers an abundance of “cultural anchors” that are worth not only the tourists’ attention but also investments of various magnitude. The difficulty is that today all these beauty sights have neither comfortable pedestrian access nor any well-thought system of sign-posts. “Even in the center of Saint Petersburg, the civilized environment comes in random fragments – Nikita Yavein explains – On the one hand, the city implements ambitious projects, on the other hand, all the work is conducted solely on the façade side. The underside of the blocks still presents a striking contrast to their prestigious “credentials”. According to the architect, what the city really lacks is, as he puts it, the depth of the service, and it is this depth of service that “Studio 44” project is about in the first place. 

The system of public spaces that is now under construction should be based, according to “Studio 44” on the main pedestrian artery – the axis lane of Millionnaya and Galernaya Streets that traverses the downtown area from Fontanka Street to the Gulf of Finland water area. Its length is approximately two miles, which “Studio 44” conditionally called “Golden” and “Silver” ones. Along this axis, pedestrian flow is organized, which will be rendered continuous by means of three new pedestrian crossings (underground or stoplight-equipped) – across Nevsky Prospect near the Palace Bridge, on the Senate Square, and on the Labor Square. The pedestrian flows running along the Golden and the Silver Mile is going to be doubled by the water transportation on the Neva River and by the bicycle and EV lanes. The idea of “Studio 44” is pretty simple: the city completely finances this stage of the project and its implementation will trigger other investments: from the main artery, new branches of new public spaces and streets will spring out that will in turn “flow” into the other blocks and thus will form a “capillary” system of “chamber” landscaped territories. The project also contains specific examples of private and federal fund-raising initiatives. For one, the architects are proposing to open to the general public the already mentioned Block 100 (with gradual forming of Old Saint Petersburg Museum), in the Guards Corps Building the architects are proposing to make the Guards Museum, as well as to organize guided tours in the Abamelek-Lazarev Mansion (presently it is occupied by the Physical Culture and Sports Committee). The network of the new culture centers must be supported by the new infrastructure objects – art galleries, cafes, and stores that the architects are proposing to place on the ground floors of the buildings.

The final stage of the project provides for even deeper saturation of the city tissue – it was not by chance that the architects called these changes “protuberances”. As possible examples, Nikita Yavein names the Museum of Chocolate at Samoilova Confectionary or launching a restaurant and a viewing platform on the Admiralty Tower. At the same time the architects are not saying that they are suggesting driving Russian Navy Headquarters out of the Admiralty building tomorrow – rather, they are looking to start a wide public discussion about the possibility of multipurpose use of the objects of Saint Petersburg historical center. Because it is this capability of performing several different functions that will become the basis of successful revival of Saint Petersburg downtown area under the new economic conditions.

Text by: Nikita Yavein, Anna Martovitskaya
Translated by Anton Mizonov

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