St. Petersburg, Russia
Competition 2006

Our project for Gazprom City does not propose a final, perfected design for a high-rise building; it neither provides, nor does it intend to provide a new typology for a high-rise building for the simple reason that the dialogue with the client did not furnish insight into the Company's current and future work culture. Moreover, it did not make sense to us to impose a psychologically motivated architecture on the client or to offer a symbolic or otherwise disguised vocabulary of signs.

Our proposal is essentially an urban statement for a specific location in the city of St. Petersburg with its almost mythical origins at the confluence of the Neva and Okhta rivers. This was once the site of a Swedish fortress that was later demolished to make room for a Russian bastion. Just as St. Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Admiralty complement each other on either side of the Neva, we envisioned the new Gazprom City and the Smolny establishing an urban and spatial pendant to St. Petersburg. This was the urban maxim underlying all of our architectural efforts in working out the Gazprom master plan. We were well aware, from the start, of the potentially contradictory relationship between these fragile, urban ideas, on one hand, and Gazprom’s spatial needs, on the other. All of our initial attempts to pack the vast, required floor area of 300,000sqm into one single vertical volume failed. The shape, the proportions, the sheer mass of the building literally smothered the urban relationship with other buildings in the historic city. Not until we had reduced the height of the tower itself by one third and incorporated the remaining floor space in a flatter section of the master plan, were we able to alleviate the problem. The outcome was the elegant, sweeping shape that we were ultimately aiming for. As work on the tower progressed, the curves of the building were designed to face selected topographical locations in St. Petersburg and Leningrad. These geometric structures became special places accessible to the public, so that people not involved in Gazprom could also use and inhabit the tower.

While developing the proposal, we called the project “The Inhabited Needle,” this later became its official title. It is a title that refers to the distinctive building typologies of St. Petersburg, a city of flat buildings and vast unobstructed skies, allowing the extraordinarily appealing light of the low-lying sun to cast its spell over the entire city. The great achievement of the Baroque architects of St. Peter and Paul, or of the Admiralty, does not simply lie in the successful articulation of a liturgical brief or in the innovative application of a Baroque vocabulary, but rather in developing such exquisitely delicate church spires that are like needles piercing the limpid skies of St. Petersburg.
Herzog & de Meuron, 2007


Herzog & de Meuron Team:
Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron
Project Team: Mia Hägg (Associate, Project Architect), Tomislav Dushanov (Project Architect)
Massimo Corradi, Samir Tarek El Kordy, Eik Frenzel, Volker Helm, Anna Jach, Srdjan Jovanovic, Yuichi Kodai, Judit Laszlo, Young  Lee, Masato Takahashi, Hans von Bernuth, Sung Goo Yang

Gazprom Neft, St Petersburg, Russia

General Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
Architect Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
Structural Engineering: ARUP, London, Great Britain

Specialist / Consulting:
Facade Consulting, Civil Engineering, Traffic Planning, Fire Protection: ARUP, London, Great Britain

Building Data:
Site Area: 41,850sqm 
Tower Footprint: 1,672sqm
Tower Dimensions: Length 57m, Width 57m, Height 336m
Tower Gross Floor Area: 75,000sqm


Gazprom-City of Architecture Competition.
In: Concept. Vol. No. 94, Korea, 02.2007. pp. 58-83.