The Committee on Urban Planning and Architecture of St. Petersburg Sums Up the Results of the International Architectural Competition

The results have been announced for the International Competition for the development of architectural and urban concepts of alluvial areas on Vasilyevsky Island. The competition was held under the guidance of the Committee on Architecture and Urban Planning of St. Petersburg. The customer was a company — Glorax Development — which together with “Renord-Invest” plans to develop areas on the alluvial areas of Vasilyevsky Island.

The jury recognized the work of Dutch architectural office KCAP Architects & Planners and ORANGE Architects. Nevertheless, some aspects of the concept — the proposed development and the formation of silhouettes of artificial reservoirs, in particular — were found to be undisputed. The Russian office “A.LEN” presented in harmony with the concept, which offered a number of bright solutions. As such, the first-place designation was divided between the two architectural firms: the Dutch consortium KCAP Holding BV & Orange, and the Russian office “A.LEN.”

“For us it was a difficult choice, as all the participants presented very vivid and memorable work. As a result, we have adopted a compromise — to share the first place between the Dutch and Russian teams,” said Vladimir Grigoriev, chief architect of St. Petersburg and the chairman of the Committee on Urban Planning and Architecture.

“It was important to choose a concept that allows the project to develop, as well as minimally violates norms and demands changes to traditional approaches, including material nature,” Grigoriev continued. “However, I would recommend that the customer carefully examines all the projects and uses this unique opportunity to bring the brightest and professional architects to the project. The project requires such a level which has already been tested in many European countries — the implementation of different concepts and ideas from architects has a key synergistic effect.”

Alexei Balykin, CEO of Glorax Development, commented on the need to cooperate with local architects.

“As a developer, we have chosen a carefully crafted concept from KCAP Architects & Planners and ORANGE Architects,” Balykin said. “But since this work requires serious improvements and adaptations to the building regulations of the Russian Federation — as well as the planning regulations of St. Petersburg — we need to cooperate with a local architect. The work is done closely to A.LEN format and is more elaborated to incorporate urban development norms. The jury absolutely made the right decision to combine the efforts of these two teams.”

Jeroen Schipper, Dutch consortium architect for KCAP & ORANGE, commented on the results of the competition.

“For us, this victory is a great honor and a great opportunity,” said Schipper. “I am excited to cooperate with the Russian company, because we are well aware that, in the elaboration and implementation of the project, we will operate not only within the Russian standards and norms, but also in compliance with the cultural traditions of the country and the city. It’s a big responsibility, but we are ready for it.”

Experts from the round table noted the importance of competition and international scale.

“You cannot underestimate the importance of this practice, as it allows us to find effective solutions,” said Nikolai Pashkov, General Director of Knight Frank Saint-Petersburg. “This is particularly important when it comes to territory under consideration. The Alluvium on Vasilyevsky Island — it’s a very important part of the city. Architects must take advantage of this unique area and create a landmark project that fully reflects the high potential for urban development.”

Sergei Oreshkin from A.LEN also commented on the process of achieving an architectural language that properly represents St. Petersburg.

“We talk a lot about what should be the modern state of architecture in St. Petersburg,” Oreshkin said. “Working with our Dutch colleagues will be another step in this direction. We will strive together in this project to find a language that is fully consistent with the Sea Facade of the city.”

Alexei Balykin noted that the aim of the international architectural competition was to not only find the brightest architectural solution for its facilities, but to also raise the bar for developers in neighboring territories.

“If our neighbors adopt the process and compete with us and among themselves on the quality of architecture — it will benefit everyone. And it will increase the popularity of the territory in the eyes of the public, as well its investment potential. This will make the area one of the main points of economic growth in St. Petersburg,” Balykin concluded.

The contest’s secretary, Timur Bogdanenko from TOPMARK, commented on the framework of the competition and the final results.

“This competition — it’s one of the most significant events in the architectural life of St. Petersburg,” said Bogdanenko. “Interestingly, the participants worked in a fairly rigid framework established by the original data and specifications. The result was a number of extraordinary competitive projects with completely different approaches. I believe it was a success — not just as a competition, but also as a study that will be used in future implementations. I would like to thank the contestants for their ideas, their hard work, and their dedication. In December of 2015, plans were made to publish a contest catalog, which will provide a description of the project idea, the process, and the results based on sample material from the contest works.”

Maria Pidodnya, an associate partner in the Russian projects of KCAP Architects & Planners, commented on the complexities of the competition area.

“When you look at the competition area, you know, it requires several approaches simultaneously — urban planning, architectural and design approach,” said Pidodnya.

“This assumes a very interesting variety of environments.”