Their project, while remaining a high-quality architecture of a good European level, is somewhat surprising in its restraint - in comparison with other works by Ben van Berkel's bureau, and with the entire line of "iconic" buildings in general - so far still continuing, despite the changed economic situation. But it is precisely this direction of buildings-"lighthouses" that instantly attracts attention to themselves, has always been widely represented at St. Petersburg architectural competitions - and often with success.
But the Dance Palace in the ensemble belongs to a different breed. Its volume is not devoid of dynamics, but it is also not too energetic, it is connected with its surroundings (in size - at a height of 28 m, it will practically not be visible due to the development of the Embankment of Europe ensemble, and its location - its "nose", the only acute angle, is directed to the Peter and Paul Fortress), but does not merge with it. The material for the facades was not concrete or stone, not a glass curtain wall - but something between a monolithic and a transparent surface: metal triangular panels combined with glazing. At the same time, a de facto compulsory for European architecture theme of public space was developed: the foyer is connected with the square on which the theater stands by a wide front entrance, and its solution in the form of a series of terraces should, according to the architects, make it a kind of "stage" for visitors theater.
The technical aspects are carefully thought out: the traditional plan of the main hall for 1000 spectators in the shape of a horseshoe, where the stage is clearly visible from any point, convenient technical "paths" for artists and workers, allowing them to quickly move around the building without colliding with the audience, and so on.
But, on the whole, the project gives the impression of a kind of "obligatory program", especially in comparison with the MUMUTH concert hall of the same UNStudio that opened this year in Graz. This building is also located in the historical center of the city (which was clearly taken into account in the project), and it is difficult to imagine that the Austrian customers required the architects to create an original formal solution at the expense of functionality. But, as a result, this building has inspiration and individuality, which, unfortunately, is not yet felt in the St. Petersburg Palace of Dance. Of course, now we are talking only about the competitive project, which will be further refined and, perhaps, even revised. But for now, one cannot help but suspect the authors of following the “general line” of moderation (intuitively or according to some advice) and deliberately bringing this work to a certain “European standard” level - qualitative, but absolutely typical.
Customer: LLC "Petersburg City"
Total construction area: 21,000 m2
Building height: 28 m
Ben van Berkel and Gerard Loozekoot with Christian Veddeler, Wouter de Jonge, Jan Schellhoff and Kyle Miller, Maud van Hees (Maud van Hees), Hans-Peter Nuenning, Arnd Willert, Nanang Santoso, Imola Berczi, Tade Godbersen and Patrik Noome).
theateradvies bv, Amsterdam