Insights into St Petersburg

Monumental extravaganza: space buildings in St Petersburg

We are used to thinking that post-war architecture is defined by dull apartment blocks of the Khrushchev or Brezhnev era, scattered throughout the city neighborhoods. However, the post-war period in fact represents one of the most extravagant and most understudied eras in Russian architecture.
A number of buildings in St Petersburg point to the fact that not so long ago the country experienced prolific productivity not only in ballet and space, but also in architecture.

The Russian State Scientific Centre for Robotics and Technical Cybernetics

21, Tikhoretsky prospekt. By S. Savin and A. Artushin. 1973–1987.

This elegant, skyward building resembles a solemn chapel, and at the same time – a rocket, a stately edifice in the midst of the Sosnovka district. The building was designed as a test base for space technologies. Just like the tower in Pisa, this St Petersburg rocket-like building allowed test of objects experiencing free fall to be made. Today the tower, which is completely hollow inside, hosts the artificial hand once in use at the space station Mir.

Krasnaya Zarya Research Facility

4, Kantemirovskaya Ulitsa. By S. Savin and S. Zeltsman. 1979–1990.

The third tallest in the city, this building is inferior in height only to St Isaac’s Cathedral and the Peter and Paul Fortress. While designing the future construction, the architects took into account how it would look on the skyline. The shape they chose is somewhat reminiscent of a robot head and at the same time it is an outline, which is typical for the style in general, of the domes and spires of the city centre. The best viewpoint to see the beauty of the place is when looking out a window of a suburban train departing from Finlyandskiy train station.

Sea Port

1, Ploshchad Morskoi Slavy. By S. Sokhin, M. Zakharov, E. Shumova, G. Fedoseyeva. 1982.

An allusion to all sea legends at once, the aluminum wind-swelled sails of St Petersburg’s sea port remind the onlooker of a moored boat that stands overlooking the Gulf of Finland. When you look at it, you can see a graceful semblance to an ocean liner, and at the same time the outline of the Admiralty with its strict proportions that could have served as the guidelines for the architects, passing traditions and style down the ages.

Yachting Club Trud

9, Petrovskaya Kosa. By V. Maslov, G. Morozov, and A. Belyavskaya. 1978–1980.

The layout of the club is designed in the shape of a crystalline grid. Every level is reinforced by pyramid-like supporting bars, opening up towards the sky. This creates an illusion of the bars being about to lock down and release a glowing space ship, a flying saucer of the very yacht club.

Kindergarten at Dzhambula

8, Ulitsa Dzhambula. By S. Shmakov and V. Melyakova. 1983.

According to the architects, the building was constructed using well rings, cast-iron pipes, and elements of heat chambers. Resorting to such extraordinary materials brought about a space play-ground with sections, laser guns and wind vanes. The architects created an environment that lets children’s imagination truly run wild.