WORKac take a subtraction design approach with winning proposal for New Holland Island
WORKac is the winner of the competition to select a master planning consultant for the future development of New Holland Island in St Petersburg, it was announced today. The competition, organized by The Architecture Foundation, invited entries from all over the world and an exhibition of proposals recently went on show at the Central Naval Museum in St Petersburg overlooking the New Holland site attracted 6,617 visitors within a two week period.
New Holland is an 8-hectare island bordered by two canals and a river in the heart of St Petersburg, 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.
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 imagines New Holland Island as a microcosm of wider St. Petersburg: a cultural ‘city within the city’ that sponsors a vast range of public spaces and programs, from the visual and performing arts, to new technologies, to education, to markets and a hotel. Rather than adding new architectural statements, however, they have worked primarily through subtraction to carve from the historic warehouses their amazing potential for public and cultural activity, retaining as much public outdoor space as possible.
The warehouses will be fully restored on the exterior. Within, the 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 pool once used for testing ships, 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.