How long have the KCAP Architects & Planners and “ORANGE architects” teams been cooperating?
- Cooperation between our offices has been going on for about fifteen years. We are simultaneously involved in various architectural and urban planning projects in the Netherlands.
How are the roles assigned? If I understood correctly, KCAP Architects & Planners more specialized in general planning and management (“We are cultural impresarios "), and"ORANGE architects”- on the figurative component?
- KCAP and ORANGE are both similar and different. Both offices have specific experiences, but there are also intersections. In fact, KCAP has experience in territorial development in projects such as Hafencity in Hamburg or Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, as well as significant experience in Russia, such as the Perm Strategic Master Plan. ORANGE, for its part, has experience in various architectural projects, such as the development of the Westerdok Island in Amsterdam or the Cube Tower in Beirut, their experience also includes the field of 3D visualization.
For this project, we have organized a project team with various specialists from two offices. They worked as one team, without a clear division of roles, on a collective basis, in different scales and disciplines, regardless of individual specialization. This provided intensity and mutual enrichment in the work process. In fact, it is the final quality of the bid that is important, and not by whom specifically the parts were developed.
– Describe your impressions of the St. Petersburg competition
- The site is strategic for the further development of the city towards the Gulf of Finland.
Territories like this deserve that various designers express their ideas for them, which, in fact, took place at this competition. We received all our major projects for the development of territories by winning such competitions. What is important now is to define the next steps, to understand how the different interests and responsibilities of the city of St. Petersburg, Glorax and other stakeholders can be brought together into a coherent project with lasting qualities.
– Competitive projects presented by really strong teams provide an up-to-date architectural cut, and with it - rich food for thought, in particular, on the theme of the image in modern architecture. Some of the contestants turned to the arsenal of bionics, using images of wind, sea waves, icebergs. Others focused on finding abstract geometric patterns. Your project appeals to the image of St. Petersburg as a city of golden domes and spiers, which have turned from a sacred symbol into a spectacular decorative piece. Is modern architecture capable, in principle, of going beyond purely formal searches and functional tasks, carrying some deeper meanings?
– In our work, we combine radical pragmatism and idealism with place-making (creating the individuality of a place). We are simultaneously working on solving real problems and on creating architectural landmarks for modern society. We see this site as the future visiting card of St. Petersburg. Not as a standard cluster of skyscrapers overlooking the bay, or as a collection of unpersonalized residential areas. The city of St. Petersburg has a very rich tradition in planning and architecture, we were inspired by the components of these traditions and wanted to use them in the project: canals, courtyards, neighborhoods and, indeed, domes and spiers.
We have combined these components in a project that ultimately provides a quality urban environment that is both new and familiar. This creates a strong branding and sets the development strategy: the found character of the development will attract people and business to this place.
– The ORANGE command architects”declares“maximization”(“maximize”) as an alternative principle to minimalism. Please tell us more about it using the example of your competition project
“By defining St. Petersburg as a city of canals, neighborhoods, courtyards, domes and spiers, and using the principle of“maximization”, we mean the interpretation and reuse of these components. This creates a rich and differentiated image as opposed to a reduced or minimalist one. In the end, this image will not be random and devoid of meaning, it will be very restrained and clean.
– How expedient, in your opinion, is the very idea of reclaiming new territories on Vasilievsky Island? How effectively do you think the potential of these new lands is being used?
“In many cities they are building on the“new land”. The Hafencity in Hamburg or the port areas in Amsterdam were also swampy areas outside the city a few hundred years ago. Just like in Hamburg, the most important thing is to maximize the desire to create a City here, an attractive and sustainable urban environment with its own character and a combination of development of various functions within the framework of a system of quality public spaces. Thus, this area could become the historical center of the city in the 21st century version, and not just a collection of sleeping areas scattered around the cruise port and the central shopping center.
– Both of your teams have experience in design in Russia, please tell us a little about it. How much does the Russian specificity differ from the European one you are used to?
- Cities, both in Europe and in Russia, have a planning tradition. This tradition in Russia was suppressed for a significant period. However, planning is now in the process of returning to Russian cities. They are growing or shrinking, but, compared with Europe, they lack a large-scale urban economy. This limits their strategic investment and their ability to grow as planned. This is the big difference. In Russia, we are honored to work with passionate and ambitious private customers with optimism and faith in the "now". They have the energy and drive that we sometimes lack in Europe. But, unfortunately, when we look at the vast territories, built up recently without any quality, character or idea, we see that such people are still an exception to the rule. Improving the architectural and urban planning quality of the future development fund is a huge challenge. The transformation of Russian cities at the structural level is another and no less difficult task.
– How will your cooperation with A. Len develop?
- At the moment it is unknown.
– Already have a schedule for further work on the project?
- There are ideas on how to move on, but there is no exact schedule yet. It is necessary to wait for the approval of changes in important urban planning documents of the city. In the meantime, the project was presented at MIPIM, within the framework of the program of the city of St. Petersburg.