WORKac wins the New Holland Island Competition

The New York City based WORK Architecture Company (WORKac) is the winner of the competition to select a master planning consultant for the future development of New Holland Island in St Petersburg, Russia.

For this invitation-only design competition design offices Yuri Avvakumov and George Solopov (Russia), David Chipperfield Architects (UK/Germany),,Dixon Jones (UK), Lacaton & Vassal (France),    MVRDV (Netherlands), OMA (Netherlands), Studio44 (Russia), and WORKac (USA) where asked to send in proposals for New Holland, a 8-hectare island bordered by two canals and a river in the heart of St Petersburg. The island is within 20-minutes walk of the Hermitage and the city’s other major cultural sites. The island was conceived by Peter the Great in 1719, and became Russia’s first military port in 1721. It belonged to the military since its foundation and had thus been closed to the general public for 300 years.

The offices were asked to submit conceptual master-plan proposals to inform future development plans for New Holland and to take into account the client’s desire to create a multi-functional cultural and commercial complex. The client, the New Holland Development (an affiliate of Millhouse LLC, that won an investment tender held by the city of St Petersburg to restore and redevelop New Holland, committing to invest at least 12 billion rubles over a construction period of 7 years) wishes to include culture, retail, hotel, leisure and public space in the programming of the Island.
Other important elements of the brief included: A consideration of how the programme of New Holland Island would relate to existing cultural, leisure and retail facilities within the city of St. Petersburg; A dynamic mix of uses, 24-hour animation and a strong cultural component; Creative ways to address the reconstruction and preservation of the Island’s significant built heritage; The possibility of a new contemporary art facility building based on the existing work of The Garage in Moscow; A consideration of the different user groups (residents, business travellers, tourists, etc) likely to use the Island; Enhanced access to the Island’s existing distinctive water features; Transport and pedestrian links between the Island and its surroundings

The entries were exhibit at the Central Naval Museum in St Petersburg overlooking the New Holland site where it attracted 6,617 visitors within a two week period. Opinions left on comment cards filled out by the public at the exhibition overwhelmingly coincided with the views of the competition organisers in supporting WORKac’s vision.
WORKac’s winning entry creates a public park, whose topography transforms New Holland Island into an outdoor amphitheatre and performance space. An elevated promenade brings the park to the interior of the existing structures, connecting a series of programmatic ‘voids’ – art, design, education and commercial – that builds on St Petersburg’s rich cultural history to create a new vibrant cultural hub for the city.

WORKac proposes that the warehouses will be fully restored on the exterior. Within, new voids and skylights are introduced within the repetitive brick structure to organize the programs and larger internal spaces. Outdoors, public activities, performances and exhibitions are supported around the testing pool and new landscaped areas.
Two new structures accommodate programs that the warehouses cannot contain. A landscape-covered “wedge” provides space for parking and shared infrastructures for the island; the sloped surface can be used for watching events and hosts a tethered balloon to view the city. Secondly, a triangular tent is proposed between two warehouse buildings to provide large-scaled exhibition space in the winter. In summertime this becomes a sculpture garden.
To ensure the cultural center remains vibrant year-round, an interior public promenade winds its way across the tops of the warehouses, linking the buildings with sky bridges. This is a new kind of public space, combining functional circulation with gardens and views down into the buildings.