Der Spiegel reports on Gazprom City: the future, rather evocatively named St. Petersburg headquarters for Russian energy giant Gazprom, currently the subject of a high-profile design competition.
This new “city,” however, will just be a cluster of high-tech administrative buildings, although the main tower “is to rise at least 300 meters (985 feet) into the sky and symbolize the growing power of the firm. It is also to be situated just opposite the famed 18th century Smolny Cathedral on the Neva River in historic St. Petersburg.”
This location has proved rather controversial.
Because Gazprom City “is part of a longer range plan by Russian President Vladimir Putin to boost the prestige of his home city,” however, it seems unlikely that the project will be held back. This, after all, may be St. Petersburg’s newest architectural moment: “Much of the development that has occurred in recent years has benefited Moscow, whereas St. Petersburg has seen little change. Only recently, with the celebration of the city’s 300th birthday in 2003, did the city begin awakening from its centuries-long sleep. But even as high-tech projects and a new theater designed by Sir Norman Foster have gone ahead, major changes to the city center, with its numerous UNESCO-protected royal residences and palaces, are considered taboo.”
In any case, the winner of the competition will be announced on December 1st, and the actual tower should be fully constructed by 2016.
Until that time, here’s a quick bet that at least one person out there – whether they’re a novelist, a filmmaker, a graphic artist or even just a refreshingly ambitious architectural student – will design, write, film, or draw some futuristic sci-fi dystopia called Gazprom City, simply because the name is so cool. Of course, you’ll probably get sued. But think Perdido Street Station – described by this reviewer as “Metropolis meeting Gormenghast in the heart of Dickensian London” – goes to Renaissance Paris via, perhaps, Nostromo… and you get the picture.
So: Gazprom City. Artists and writers, show us what will happen there.
(Image credits: In order, these are designs by Daniel Libeskind, Jean Nouvel, Herzog & de Meuron, OMA, Massimiliano Fuksas, and RMJM. Story found via things magazine).
25 thoughts on “Gazprom City”
In today’s Russia, it’s more like Gazprom Nation.
I’m trying to decide which one of these designs is the most hideously triumphalist-corporatist. I can’t.
Oh, but if you’re going to do grandiose corporate monumentalism one should at least do it with a degree of megalomania, of which there seems to be a fair proportion here. The Libeskind seems the most magnificently horrible.
I’ll second that, under the influence of the background CGI sky behind – like the colour of digital television, tuned to a dead satellite channel.
Neuromancer homage! Neuromancer homage!
Indeed…seems like everyone had to take a course in the imagery of William Gibson in order to enter….
This is what happens when a autocratic corpporation like Gazprom give egotistical architects carte blanche, and demand they ignore context and the sensitivities of a site.
I just finished posting about the Gazprom competition on my blog:
Willfulness reigns at Gazprom
It’s rather depressing but not surprising that with such a liberal brief the world’s leading architects have come up with such banal designs, utterly void of meaning.
I’m sure Koolhaas would like to think he’s channeling Leonidov and Mies, but all I’m getting is a stack of sugarcubes.
God knows what Libeskind was channeling.
When I saw the topmost one, I thought: Skate park for Jacke Chan wannabees.
By the end of the article, I was thinking of the excellent ‘Russian Ark.’
i fully support the next cold war being fought with a skyscraper race instead of a nuclear missile race.
you idiots and your ‘fuck corporatism’ stance. be thankful these large companies give architects the opportunity to experiment, rather than just build a plain, rectangular box 200 stories tall.
the only problem here being that i kinda like these things, i like the first one most
Well, all of us were there first, but The New York Times now chimes in on the subject.
In a letter to Governor released Thursday, the St. Petersburg Union of Architects said the tower will destroy the unique harmony of the city’s skyline and might result in St. Petersburg’s exclusion from the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.
“The low skyline makes the verticals of St. Petersburg especially magnificent… the conservation of inimitable silhouettes of its spires and domes is of great importance to town planning and spiritual importance,” reads the letter from the St. Petersburg Union of Architects.
“A 300-meter tower, more than twice as high as the Peter and Paul Cathedral and three times higher than St. Isaac’s and Smolny Cathedral, visible from all the main locations of the historical city center (even from Vasilievsky Island)…will bring the irreparable damage to the fragile skyline of the city as it will make all its verticals look almost toy-like,” the document continues.
Well, william Gibson says “I NEVER IMAGINED ANYTHING THIS UGLY”.
For ‘gristle sauce’:
I’d much prefer the plain boxes to these absurdities.
I’m gonna have to side with Gristle Sauce on this one. Architecture is a wonderful artform with limitless possibilities, but how often does such playful, grandiose architecture get built? How often do we people actually get to experience these provocative pieces of architecture (apart from fancy computer renderings)? Luckily more and more these days, with the current economic state of some parts of the world.
Honestly, though, I don’t see whats so “absurd” about these buildings (with the exception of Libeskind’s).
What most of you “fuck corporations” crowd do not realize is that Gazprom is not a private corporation. It is state owned and and plays a mayor role in Putin’s plans to expand Russias economical/political influence.
God…how many…billions of dollars to build that….they can’t even fully pay all their soldiers..
I’m sure the guy over at Netscape would be ecstatic if Libeskind won.
Gazprom Winner is ‘Corn on the Cob’—it is the last one pictured here.
“It is a new economic symbol for St. Petersburg,” Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told reporters at a ceremony at the company’s current St. Petersburg offices, where he and Governor Valentina Matviyenko announced the winning design by British architect RMJM.
full article from St. Petersburg Times
having been in St. Petersburg as a tourist, it really is a wonderfully “untouched” city that evokes some of the best stereotypes of Old Russia, without much of the cold modernity of Moscow. but now it will forever bear the Mark of Putin (which is a lot of this is about anyways). just another modern pyramid, but it´s too bad they didn´t follow the egyptian example and build it *away* from the city center.
im glad i had a chance to visit st petersburg before they scarred it with an absolutely inappropriate skyscraper.
I really don’t see what’s wrong with any of these buildings. I think they’re kind of cool.
Personally, I like the first three – and hate the last three…
I live in St.Petersburg, Russia. I love my city.
Germans could not destroy my city with their bombs. Gazprom is likely to do it with money.
This “fallos magnus” will destroy the unique architecture.
So please, visit my beautiful city before those bastards destroy it.
"Putin to boost the prestige of his home city" Is it like enlarge your 'johnson' thingy only on national scale? I'm not a fan.