Adaptive Reuse of New Holland Island in St. Petersburg, Russia: Incremental Development within Historic Fabric
MetadataShow full item record
St. Petersburg is unique among Russian cities. It was founded in 1703, during the rise of imperial power in Russia, as Peter the Great's "window to Europe" with a strong naval base for trade opportunities. The historic core of the city is located in the delta of river Neva on a series of islands and has many times been referred to as "Venice of the North" for its numerous canals and picturesque views. It was the capital from 1712 to 1918 until the revolution led to overthrowing of the tsar regime. Grand palaces and public squares developed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries in harmonious ensembles, the most famous of these today being the Hermitage Museum on the Palace Square. After withstanding Germany's 900-day siege, the city was restored to its imperial glory after World War II. The unique historic center became a very strong symbol for the locals as well as for the rest of the country as a representation of cultural and historical heritage and great postwar reconstruction efforts "reasserted the primacy of the city's historic center" (Brumfield 1990, 37). In 1990 the core area of St. Petersburg's center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site (World Heritage List, No.540). As a result, today it is a challenging place for contemporary architecture, a place of a lot of tension and debate over new development. On the one hand St. Petersburg is almost a city preserved as a museum: the historic built fabric is very precious to residents and visitors. Many express adverse reactions to even the slightest changes and additions in buildings. Often, the best solution seen is keeping everything as is and renovating or reconstructing buildings to represent a certain historic moment in time. At the same time there is a very obtrusive approach in new development, which are attracted to the city center for economic and tourist opportunities. Most of these are very large scale projects, typically business or commercial centers that overpower the historic fabric. Too often historic buildings are demolished to make way for the new, raising more opposition towards contemporary architecture. Along with these two approaches to building in the historic center of St. Petersburg, there is also a large amount of deteriorated and abandoned fabric in the city. St. Petersburg is perhaps one of the few cities where there is an abundance of these kind of places - almost ruins, which can be experienced in a non-museum setting. This thesis argues that these types of quiet places are just as important in the city center as the busy commercial and cultural attractions - deteriorated and largely underused, they have certain qualities of silence and mystery and serve as a counterbalance to the hectic display and presentation of the city's commercial and cultural assets. How, then, can these abandoned places be redeveloped for contemporary life in a sensitive way? This thesis proposes a different kind of approach from what is typically seen today: a framework for incremental development within historic buildings, which sets up an infrastructure to support future uses, where inhabitants can appropriate the historic fabric and make use of it with small scale interventions accreting over time. New Holland Island, a deteriorated and under-utilized military site in the city center has been selected as the thesis site. The thesis includes analysis of the island, a discussion of theoretical framework as related to incremental approach for intervention and a design proposal that demonstrates the framework and one way such interventions may occur. The chapters are organized as follows. Chapter II deals with site analysis, presenting New Holland Island's history as it relates to the city's development and describes its current condition in the urban context. Chapter III presents theories that frame the approach to New Holland Island's development and gives examples of similar interventions. Chapter IV first explains the broad interventions for the entire site and then focuses on an intervention in one of the historic warehouses of New Holland Island. Chapter V includes the conclusions of the process.
- Architecture