Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Having weathered the storm of history, Petrovsky Island is cast adrift. The island’s marina, stadium, parks, industry, and heritage all give the island a depth and richness, and yet it has never developed a coherent identity as a place within the city. Saint Petersburg, as a constellation of islands, has the unique ability to realize the specific potential of localized areas while fitting them into the framework of the larger city. Whereas now the island is a composite of various urban fragments, a comprehensive masterplan is required to treat the island as a singular entity, and reshape it as a single landscape. Because of Petrovsky Island’s prominent location, this radical transformation will change the entire cityscape, offering a model of innovation and regeneration.
Petrovsky Island is divided into three separate and clearly distinguishable zones: a park on the East side, an industrial zone in the middle, and a marina on the far West end. Approaching the island from the city center, the visitor first passes through the Petrovsky Park with its pond and canals. The island is part of a larger city green belt, together with Krestovsky and Kamennii Islands, and is a popular area for summer strolls. Continuing to the middle of the island, the visitor is confronted by the island’s industrial legacy. Since the city’s foundation, the island has been an important site for shipbuilding and trade warehouses, and it continues to be dominated by largely inaccessible industrial areas. Finally, reaching the marina at the western peak of the island, the visitor is treated to a view of the city opening towards the Baltic Sea. The island’s varied composition points to a multiple set of relationships with the city, making it hard to distinguish the island’s overall identity. Our proposal is a way of overcoming this separation in zones by creating one strong, unifying identity for the island and making it a vital part of the Saint Petersburg constellation of islands.
The masterplan requires careful consideration across all scales of impact. At the scale of the entire city, the masterplan intensifies the island’s relationship to existing urban structures. At the scale of the island, the proposal takes the existing material: the waterfront, stadium, parks, and historic buildings; and superimposes a new unifying system.
An analysis of the historical development of Saint Petersburg reveals multiple layers of existing urban structures. The masterplan organizes and clarifies these structures in order to take advantage of Petrovsky Island’s complex set of overlapping relationships with the city. This basis gives the island a strong root in the foundational logic of the city as well as providing a model for how these latent structures may be utilised by the city at large.
Like many other European capitals, Saint Petersburg has a well developed radial structure. Due to its shape and orientation Petrovsky Island is one of the most important vectors, starting from the city centre, and pointing at the Baltic Sea. Our proposal reinforces the existing Petrovsky Prospect as a backbone of the island urban structure, providing a direct traffic and spatial link between the Southeast and Northwest edges.
The city rings of Saint Petersburg are still developing. Complete rings exist only along the canals in the historic city centre. The transit high-speed ring around the city is still to be completed. In our proposal we suggest two new concentric links connecting the island to the rest of the city: an Urban and a Green Link. The Urban Link connects Petrogradski and Vasilevski Islands through Petrovsky Island by a new bridge to Decabristov Island and the existing Malopetrovsky bridge. The Green Link continues the existing Bolshoipetrovsky bridge to Decabristov, providing a pedestrian link between the park on Vasilevsky Island, the green on Petrovsky, and a possible new green area on Decabristov. In a longer time period, the Green Link suggests a transformation of the post industrial zones of Saint Petersburg into green and recreation areas.
Baltic – Centre Link
Due to the initial strategic location of the fortress, the city centre never faced the Baltic Sea. Petrovsky Island is the shortest physical link between the city centre and the Sea. We have emphasized this unique location by reinforcing the East West running Petrovsky Prospect and creating a vertical landmark at the West end of the island: the Baltic Marina Gate. This opens the city centre to the Sea and provides an opportunity for a new entrance to Saint Petersburg.
To create a new high-end residential area for Saint Petersburg, the masterplan proposes to accentuate the island’s main asset, water, and to alleviate its main problem, industrial pollution. This is accomplished through the formation of five new marinas. This land cut will ensure the disposal of contaminated land and will provide a considerable increase of the prime site residential areas. The radical alteration of the island periphery is inspired by the continuous and dynamic change of the island waterfront through the last 300 years and is an addition to Saint Petersburg’s history of redefining the riverbanks. The continuous undulating periphery will be the main spatial feature of the island, providing a strong overall character and creating a unique experience of the Neva river.
The scope of the Master Plan is to develop an overall concept for the entire island with a total area of 125 ha. The program includes mainly luxury “grade A” housing, but also commercial and public facilities. The island is currently occupied by industrial buildings and park areas with a stadium on the East and marina on the West end. The total approximate gross floor area is approximately 1 Million m3 for 33 000 inhabitants.
The proposed building parameters and types for the island are simple and follow the guidelines of the larger scale concepts. The elements of the masterplan capitalise on the advantages of the island’s waterfront, promote green space, strengthen urban continuities, and providing Petrovsky Island with a strong identity.
Two Housing Typologies
Marinas and Waterfront Housing – Public Space and Service
The newly formed undulating periphery of the island is a prime site housing area. It is built up in a continuous strip comprised of two distinctive types of buildings: 15 storey highrise housing around the private marinas, and 6 storey linear development along the river waterfronts perforated in order to provide public access and views to the waterfront. The marina blocks rise gradually from 6 to 15 floors and will work as urban magnets for the island- providing the necessary public services on the ground floors. Their shape considers the sun exposure for the adjacent areas and provide wind protected exterior space in the arcade along the marinas. The marina complexes provide the needed underground parking space, allowing a largely car-free ground space for the club-houses.
Clubhouses – Green Space
The clubhouses of 3 to 4 floors are inspired by Russian dachas and sized close to the existing Veterans’ complex. The scale and spacing of the clubhouses allow for extensive gardens and forests throughout the interior of the island. The proposal maintains the same number of existing trees; as many as possible will be preserved while others will be replanted. The preservation and development of vegetation on the island will assure the future green image of the island despite the considerable increase of built structures. This typology takes maximum advantage of the green space between the Marinas, providing a life style close to nature, isolated from the city view and noise, while at the same time enjoying proximity to urban amenities.
We propose two new city icons at the edges of the island: the reconstructed Petrovsky Stadium is transformed into housing, fitness, spa and recreation centre and the new Baltic Marina Gate which will include apartments, a luxury hotel, conference facilities, restaurants and a sky bar. These two landmarks bracket the island, anchoring the backbone link and indicating the two major features of Saint Petersburg – the historical city centre and the Baltic Sea. These two elements are part of the continuous built periphery of the island while at the same time participating in the larger context of defining the city edge.
The heritage buildings form an important historical link within the radical transformation of Petrovsky Island. The structure of the Petrovsky Stadium will be kept even if it will be transformed and the Petrovsky Park will be preserved. The island’s future centre will be formed around the reconstructed Bavaria Heritage Buildings and Kanat. The Bavaria buildings will be transformed into performance spaces with a public garden to Malaya Nevka. Kanat, together with six other existing buildings, will become public services and restaurants, with an arcade toward Malaya Neva. Additionally, the Veterans complex will be preserved, and the Nobel House and Park will be preserved for public use.
Circulation and Infrastructure
The proposal for the traffic organization consists of the following three main elements:
Petrovsky Prospect – The central backbone and main traffic access for the island is further developed. It also contains the necessary underground infrastructure.
Waterfront Promenade – A 20 m wide public zone runs along the entire perimeter of the island. The promenade is mainly pedestrian with vehicle lanes for local residents, service and emergency access.
A network of paths and walkways in the public parks and the community gardens of the clubhouse complexes.
The legacy of Saint Petersburg requires nothing less than a bold and articulate idea. However, in order to achieve the overall composition, the masterplan can only be realized in pieces. Using the marina as the germinal form of the process, the phasing begins on the Western end, announcing Petrovsky Island as new gate to the city. Together with the Stadium and Park, on the Eastern edge, it will anchor the vision of the new Petrovsky Island.
© Herzog & de Meuron, 2007
- Architect Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
- General Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
- Building Data
- Site Area: 13'511'923 sqft, 1'255'300 sqm
- Gross floor area (GFA): 16'249'635 sqft, 1'509'642 sqm
- Number of levels: 50
- Footprint: 2'310'578 sqft, 214'660 sqm