Particularly high requirements are imposed on the quality of buildings along the embankments, river or sea. There are many reasons for this, and not all of them are objective. The architecture that exists on the border between land and water, simultaneously belongs to the material world and its "looking glass", thanks to the multiplication of its essence in reflection - all this literary-romantic flair latently influences the consciousness of the viewer and the designer. Of course, there is also a purely pragmatic, urban planning argumentation: due to the space in front of the front of the houses, they have an impact on a significantaboutmost of the city, but this statement is equally true for modern avenues, which does not stop architects from experimenting with the silhouette when designing buildings along them. It is possible, however, that buildings along the embankments have acquired a special image status thanks to a considerable number of excellent examples: remember Venice, Amsterdam, New York and further down the list. Even Moscow has something to show, let alone St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg embankments, thanks to which the legendary "sky line" is created - the city's treasure, and it is no coincidence that every citizen of St. Petersburg treats their panoramas with special trepidation and reacts with such pain to every intrusion into their slender and well-balanced row.
Fortunately, there have been few negative examples in recent years. And not least because of the limited sites along rivers, canals and along the bay within the city. Now on the urban planning map of St. Petersburg there is a new site on the border of water and land. It appeared literally because it has an artificial origin. We are talking about the alluvial territories at the western end of Vasilievsky Island, the decision on the creation of which was made by the government of St. Petersburg in 2006. To date, about 170 hectares have risen above sea level out of the planned 476. Active construction is underway on the already reclaimed territories, which is not surprising. The district is located quite close to the center of St. Petersburg, with the opening of the Western High-Speed Diameter its transport accessibility has increased, new metro stations are being built nearby.
In addition to the new complex of the passenger seaport of St. Petersburg with
cruise and ferry terminal, built according to the project of the A. Len bureau, it is planned to build almost 500,000 m2 housing, most of which belongs to comfort and business class. It is this that will form the new "sea facade" of St. Petersburg. In addition, construction on alluvial territories is almost a unique chance for the city to form a new standard of residential development, modern, comfortable and at least roughly approaching the high aesthetic standards of the “northern capital”. Some developers and designers take this task seriously, striving to find a worthy and harmonious solution for the presentation building, designed to serve as the forerunner of that amazing city, for the sake of meeting with which tourists coming to the port have come a long way.
Doubling the benefits
The international competition for the concept of a part of the new urban land, held by GLORAX Development at the initiative of the government of St. Petersburg, has become a confirmation of the great urban planning and typological significance of development in the alluvial territories. The organizer was the TOPMARK company, and the MARSH school and the MARSH Lab research center acted as consultants.
Several leading Russian and foreign bureaus took part in the competition. Suffice it to say that Ostozhenka, Studio 44 and A. Len, as well as Cino Zucchi Architetti Srl entered the second round. (Italy), KCAP Holding B.V. (Netherlands) and Snøhetta AS (Norway), which
presented six diverse, but equally bright and promising concepts. The jury awarded the victory to two teams - the Russian company A. Len and the Dutch KCAP Holding B.V., which performed together with a partner - the Orange bureau. It seemed that instead of solving the most complicated problem, the results of the competition only exacerbated it, shifting the burden of responsibility to the developer for bringing two projects, albeit built on similar planning principles, but still different from each other, to a common denominator.
The KCAP + Orange project impressed with the freshness and purity of the idea, with a composition of rectangular block blocks made of parallelepipeds of different heights and packed into an orthogonal facade structure. The laconic set was enlivened by several architectural and planning elements designed to give the Dutch concept an authenticity. The canals laid between the quarters were supposed to appeal to the image of the "Venice of the North", and the asymmetrical ends of the towers, reminiscent of the frames of gilded St. Petersburg spiers, claimed the role of new landmarks in the strict recalculation of the "sky line". For all the showiness in the concept, significant discrepancies with Russian norms and the realities of design and construction practice were obvious. Only the participation in the further work of a highly professional domestic team with experience in implementing projects comparable in scale and working with foreign partners could guarantee an equally bright and high-quality embodiment of the idea. The best candidate was the A. Len bureau, whose project with a clearly structured block development and a number of planning and facade solutions, similar to the Dutch proposal, confidently claimed victory in the competition. As a result, according to the head of "A. Len" Sergei Oreshkin, "the jury made a wise decision. They chose similar concepts and offered the developer and authors, Russian and Western, to take the best from each concept and from each team and create a single harmonious urban planning and architectural system."
The section of the residential complex “Golden City” is directly adjacent to the U-shaped bay of the port, flanking its southern corner. A narrow section, stretched to the west, is divided into three blocks for quarters 7, 8, and 9. Two more quarters (5 and 6) depart at right angles towards the last block 4, which is outside the common perimeter and separated from the rest of the complex a crossroads and a small area. To date, working documentation has been prepared for the corner block No. 6 and the construction of its above-ground part is already underway.
The perimeter buildings of the neighborhoods help protect the courtyards from the piercing winds blowing from the sea starting in October. At the same time, the architects leave several gaps in the perimeter, decorating them as arches in order to preserve the visual connection of the residential buildings with the outside world, and especially with the bay. To protect pedestrians from precipitation and winds, covered galleries supported by V-shaped columns are planned along the first floors.
When determining the size of the quarters, the authors proceeded from historical prototypes, taking as a basis the standard dimensions of the urban grid in the central part of St. Petersburg, as well as the experience of modern construction in the suburbs. The height of the buildings that form the quarters varies from 20 meters (cornice of the Winter Palace) of the main part of the building, to 50 and 100 meters in the corner towers, which create compositional accents and make the silhouette of the complex picturesque. The facades of the buildings are wrapped in a structural lattice formed by horizontal and vertical ribs marking the levels of the floors and a regular pitch of the axes of 3.3 meters (with a constructive span of 6.6 m). Asymmetric spiers and tops made of gold-colored metal frame structures have become a feature of the architectural concept of the development. These "crowns" or rather headdresses are an interesting compromise between the actual and even minimalistic stylistics of the entire complex and the desire to accentuate the connection with the historically formed image of St. Petersburg.
The courtyards are closed to private cars. The external transport and pedestrian infrastructure developed by Gensler is designed to make moving around the complex safe and comfortable.
The apartment layout of the residential complex "Golden City" corresponds to the current market trends. Of the 588 apartments, only 20% are three-room apartments with an area of about 90 m2… The rest are studios (10%) with an area of 25 m2, odnushki (20%) and kopeck piece (40%). “Russian architects better sense the needs of the market,” says Sergey Oreshkin, “and are able to offer solutions that are more efficient in terms of ergonomics. Conditions in Russia are tougher and the market is much more volatile than the European one. Unfortunately, purchasing opportunities are expanding and narrowing. And now we are in the next phase of its narrowing - both in terms of the area of apartments and in technology. Only because of the area of the apartments, our complex is positioned as a comfort class. At the same time, the level of architectural, engineering and design solutions, the elaboration of everything from the landscape to the facades, including the interiors of all public places: lobbies, elevator halls, and so on, corresponds to the highest standard."
Over the past two years since the announcement of the results of the competition, the project has made great strides forward. The construction of the sixth block is underway, the other four are at the detailed design stage. The Russian and Dutch teams are in constant contact, together finding answers to emerging questions. Designers KCAP and Orange focus on the architectural design, striving to maintain the cleanliness and clarity of the solutions that the jury liked so much. The Dutch work methodically, dividing the project into stages, preceding each of them with research, and arguing the decisions made with calculations and analytical materials.
Most of the solutions from the competitive concepts were confirmed during detailed analysis and elaboration, but some of them did not pass the test for compliance with Russian realities. The first thing that had to be abandoned at the beginning of the joint work on the project was a change in the configuration of the site and an increase in its area, which the Dutch used in the competition concept to harmonize the development. Then the developer, for economic reasons, decided to abandon the channels. This is too expensive for a residential complex that is officially classified as "comfort". In connection with the clarification of the interpretations of the provisions of the City Code, difficulties arose with the coordination of the maximum elevation marks, including the golden spiers.
“During the development of the project and its concretization, many of the solutions from the Dutch concept had to be changed in favor of the ideas that were proposed by the A. Len bureau from the very beginning,” says Sergey Oreshkin. - And this is natural, since we know our regulatory framework better and took it into account when working on a competitive project. In addition, we have experience working in alluvial areas, and we know what constructive and engineering solutions need to be incorporated into the project. All structures here stand on 30-meter piles resting on the underlying solid ground. Everything that is above must be done taking into account the shrinkage of the reclaimed earth. For those who know, this is not a problem, and for those who do not know, this is a very big risk."
For the sake of implementing the key elements of a project, it is often necessary to adjust and refine design and engineering solutions. For example, when developing the nodes of V-shaped columns supporting covered galleries along the basement floors of all buildings, it was necessary to revise the proposals of Russian designers in favor of a more elegant and aesthetic solution, which the architects insisted on, and on this issue the opinions of Russian and Dutch colleagues completely coincided.
We also had to look for a solution for the enclosing structures of the upper floors of the towers, from which “golden” asymmetric “spiers” and structural “crowns” grow.Diagonal grille elements required for both rigidity and aesthetics, overcut and whether window openings and Russian developers had to find the optimal solution for each node and joint, translating a beautiful picture into a technological drawing.
Quite serious changes had to be made in the planning solutions of buildings and apartments. And in this regard, the A. Len team also plays a leading role. Unlike European colleagues, Russian architects pay great attention to the orientation of apartments, the level of insolation, the views from the windows, striving to balance the distribution of these qualities between apartments on the floor. This approach is based on the traditions of the Soviet design practice, but remains relevant in modern conditions of a market economy, guaranteeing the absence of "non-liquid".
But in terms of architectural solutions, the clarity of the use of the technique, the absence of "fuss" in working with facades, the Dutch architects, according to Sergei Oreshkin, are superior to their Russian colleagues: “The Dutch have a very correct sense of the purity of architectural lines. It is difficult to say what is the reason: the development of the market or the specifics of education, but they understand very well that an extra fuss, an extra couple of additional details or gables is not architecture. This also applies to the design code of the facade and the silhouette of the building. They remove all unnecessary things. While in our country you can often see how the author tries to hide behind the pile-up of different techniques and over-complexity of forms his inability to achieve architectural harmony”.
The team jointly selects construction and finishing materials, suppliers and contractors. The proposals of the Dutch designers cannot always be realized in Russia - not all materials are present on the market and it is not always possible to be sure of the quality of the available ones, so the practical knowledge of A. Len helps to replace the concept solutions with reliable and visually close ones.
In fact, this is, of course, another project. The differences are significant both at the level of urban planning solutions and in terms of volumetric-spatial composition. Which, however, is inevitable in the process of adapting the competition project to reality. It is surprising that the international team managed to preserve the appearance and character of the concept, turning it into a real, viable architecture, without losing the quality and desire to create a new "sea facade" of St. Petersburg - the goal that all project participants set for themselves for two years back.