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Friday Forum #16 | St Petersburg Visit


For our 16th Friday Forum, Tony presented his recent trip to St Petersburg to the team.

As previously frequent visitors to Russia, this was Tony and Colin’s first visit to Saint Petersburg in four years. In 2014, they visited Lakhta Centre’s site in the early stages of construction.

Upon invitation from Gazprom, the visit in July 2018 marked the completion of the external facade, with the removal of the construction cranes from site.

Lakhta Centre Site Visit

Tony and Colin got their first experience of the scale of the tower while driving to the site. Lakhta Centre, now the tallest building in Europe, disappeared and reappeared along the stretch of motorway on approach. 10 years on from Tony’s original concept design, the building nears completion, standing at 462 metres tall.

Greeted by the projects Chief Engineer, Sergey Nikorovov, the team began their tour. As the team explored the tower, the expansive views towards the Gulf of Finland and across Saint Petersburg appeared endless, complemented by the glass façade. The façade of Lakhta Centre has been designed as a double-layered skin. Maximising daylight while minimising the heat loss in the extreme climate.

Lakhta Centre in Context

Throughout the four day trip, Tony documented Lakhta Centre from all angles of the city through photography. He was particularly interested in how the appearance of the skyscraper changed depending on the light and surrounding clouds. The tower can be seen through a series of images, demonstrating a change of appearance through the light and dark reflections on the tower. The images from his exploration show the tower in context of the surrounding city. Shown on the horizon of Saint Petersburg with Saint Isacc’s Cathedral, and Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral.

ISD Forum

Tony spoke at the ISD Forum, as a panel member for the closing session of the day “Petersburg 2103: A Retrospective Of The Future.”

"Being a panel member was a great opportunity to communicate and discuss ideas for a larger audience. This allows a cross fertilisation of ideas from individuals across a range of disciplines.” said Tony.

Following the visit to the Lakhta site, Tony spoke at the IV International Spatial Forum. Speaking of the origin of the design and the connection with natural forms. An exploration of his initial design from 10 years ago, this was an honour for Tony to present. This formed part of his three-day appearance at the ISD Forum.

On the last day in Saint Petersburg, Tony spoke for the final time on his trip. His lecture “Nature in Architecture” discussed his approach to design, stemming from first principals and how nature can inspire architectural design. The audience was taken through a series of Tony’s projects including the Ripple Retreat, the Scottish Parliament and the DEWA Solar Innovation Centre. He explained how each of these unique projects links to the same first principals.

World Cup and Mariinsky Theatre

As guests of Gazprom, Tony and Colin were invited to experience some local events while visiting St Petersburg. The Russia vs Egypt World Cup 2018 game at the Zenit Arena, Saint Petersburg Stadium and a performance by Nobuyuki Tsujii at the Mariinsky Theatre.

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