The global landscape architecture and urban planning firm, West 8, is designing a masterplan for New Holland Island, an island in the center of Saint Petersburg, Russia. The first phase is set to open this August 2016.
The triangular artificial island dates back to the early 1700s when the city created two canals. The island originally served as a naval port, naval testing ground, and also hosted a naval radio station. Much of the original historic buildings were abandoned after the 1915 Russian Revolution. In 2000, city officials gained control of the island, opening it to the public for a public art exhibit. (One leading artist was the Philadelphia-based Roxane Permar.)
In 2010, Saint Petersburg officials gave New Holland Development redevelopment rights to the island. In 2011, the IRIS Foundation started hosting a summer program on the island to help activate non-historic spaces, bringing in gallery-organized temporary exhibitions.
The West 8 masterplan covers 2.2 hectares (that’s a little over 5.4 acres) and features over 200 mature trees (a linden-flanked alley, willows, oaks, among others) as well as a central green and an herb garden. In winter, the central green will hold an ice skating rink.
Other parts of the design opening this summer include a children’s playground shaped like the hull of the ship Petr and Pavel, and locally-designed temporary pavilions (a stage, gallery, and visitor’s center) by architects Sergey Bukin and Lyubov Leontieva. Three restored historic buildings that were once a naval prison, a blacksmith’s building, and a naval officers house will also open by the end of this year, converted into a variety of programs—shops, a bookstore, cafes, exercise studios, a children’s creative makerspace, and more.
The second, third, and fourth phases are expected to open in 2019, 2021, and 2025. These subsequent renovations will finish the historic warehouse renovations and add just over 3.7 acres of landscaping near Labor Square and Kryukov Canal.
The Saint Petersburg Investment Committee and the Council for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage approved the West 8 plan in 2014.
(Originally WORKac won an earlier competition in 2011 to design the site and create a cultural center, but their proposal was abandoned in 2013 in favor of a more landscape-centric focus, spurred by the success of the New Holland Island summer programs.)