Golden City, Vasilyevsky Island, St. Petersburg, Russia
KCAP + Orange Architects

The recently reclaimed land of Vasilievskiy Island, extending into the Gulf of Finland, will soon accommodate a variety of urban functions. The Golden City project – designed by KCAP + Orange Architects and located on the western side of the island – will become the new face of St. Petersburg toward the sea. Such a prominent position imposes additional obligations: besides the need for an iconic silhouette for the city, which is reflected in the gold-colored spires that form the special roofscape of Golden City, the public space of the district should offer a multifunctional, active and livable environment for residents and visitors. This would also need protection from the harsh northern winter and occasional strong winds from the gulf, in order to be used all year long.
 
The overall design concept of the district aims to enhance the iconic value of the city and create a new, high-quality environment to live, work and relax. A dualism of public and semi-public pedestrian routes – through courtyards and squares – creates a plethora of spatial experience which also reflects the qualities of the historical urban fabric of St. Petersburg.
 
A variety of public spaces connect into a rich network of colonnades, pedestrian streets, and courtyards all situated along the green-blue landscape which connects the area in the south towards the Finnish Bay. This landscape has been rigorously incorporated into the program of the blocks, which establishes a significant architectural relationship between the public spaces and the thematic blocks.
 
Linear public spaces have been established between the blocks to connect the green boulevard on the south and the public space along the cruise terminal area on the north. In two locations, the street transforms into spans of horizontal water that facilitate seasonal activities. The courtyards, meanwhile, provide a more sheltered landscape where one can enjoy a quieter atmosphere and also provide an alternative route to the waterside when the weather is harsher.
 
The theme behind the landscape design of the courtyards showcases the different qualities of neighboring countries. Each courtyard’s landscape is unique, so that a route through the different courtyards will take visitors from one atmosphere to another. For instance, Block 6 has the theme “Finnish forest”. Here, birch trees and Nordic vegetation establish a Finnish atmosphere. A small pine forest is situated between the buildings as a car-free open space. In variation of this theme, the courtyard of Block 7 draws from St. Petersburg tradition as a modern interpretation of the palace gardens. 
 
The tip of the land provides a recreational hotspot for the city with elegant hills as well as a beach facing the west. It is the perfect spot for a wedding photo shoot or even just a selfie - proof that one has visited the new face of St. Petersburg along the Finnish Bay. The combination of the superb landscape design and high-quality architecture of the Golden City – of which construction has started in 2017 – seeks to enrich and stimulate the waterfront of St. Petersburg as a new point of attraction.
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