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Gazprom Neft unveils its plans for developing its Cape Okhta site in St Petersburg

2 March 2020 — St Petersburg: Gazprom Neft has confirmed the outcomes of its international architecture contest for developing the company’s Cape Okhta site in St Petersburg. Competition participants included Russian architectural bureaux Sergei Skuratov Architects and KOSMOS, Japan’s Nikken Sekkei, Germany’s ingenhoven architects (in a consortium with ABD architects), the Netherlands’ MVRDV and UNStudio, and Valode & Pistre, France. The competition was won by Japanese architectural bureau Nikken Sekkei.

“We invited seven architectural firms from Russia, France, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands to work-up options for the conceptual development of the site. All participants offered genuinely good, thought-through ideas, and it was, obviously, no easy matter choosing the best concept. Japan’s Nikken Sekkei’s architectural concept was, ultimately, the winner. The conceptual solution they put forward — of two interconnected glass buildings — is a very precise and delicate solution to the challenge of building a cutting-edge, high-tech innovative complex offering a safe, comfortable and inviting environment for our employees — and for local residents and tourists. We think the idea put forward — of creating an integrated interior involving green galleries and vertical landscaping — is extremely successful. A key factor was how far any project took St Petersburg’s — and the Okhta district’s — rich historical context (and the restrictions in place on the site) into account, to avoid breaching any protections in place. And the public park is designed in such a way as to accommodate major citywide events in addition to all the usual activities.”

Elena Ilyukhina

Elena Ilyukhina CEO, Gazpromneft East-European Projects and member of the Management Board, Gazprom Neft

“The basic principle behind our ‘Crystal Vessel’ concept is respect for the past, while looking towards the future. St Petersburg is a special city, in which any architectural project has to be approached with extreme caution, and a great sense of responsibility. We have tried to express the sheer genius of this place, and its deep historical link with Russia’s development as a great naval power, in the architecture. On the other hand, it’s important to us that we build a world-class architectural project here, bringing more openness and transparency to the place, making it more accessible and attractive for local people and tourists.”

Tadeo Kamei President and CEO, Nikken Sekkei

Nikken Sekkei’s proposal involves creating an innovative world-class complex on the site, comprising two buildings (with an overall height of 28 meters) and a public park, overlooking the Neva embankment. This architectural solution will offer an uninterrupted view of the Smolny Cathedral and its adjacent park, from the right bank of the River Neva. The “Crystal Vessel” project is inspired by St Petersburg’s history as Russia’s maritime capital, and the cradle of the Russian fleet. The solution put forward by Nikken Sekkei at the same time reflects the innovative trajectory of Gazprom Neft’s development — and that of St Petersburg — as a major international technology centre.

For visitors to Cape Okhta the project offers a modern, multifunctional ground-floor public space, with plans for exhibition space, conference rooms, restaurants, cafes, a sports centre, medical centre, and retail offerings. Initial estimates suggest the public space and riverside park will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 visitors every day. A key feature of the Nikken Sekkei concept is the public open-air observation deck to be erected in the overhead walkway connecting the two buildings.

The rest of the complex will be used to create workspaces for Gazprom Neft employees, and will house the company’s Technology Development and International Project Management Centres.

This new architectural concept is designed to ensure the future complex is fully compliant with the highest standards in green construction. The project will have minimal environmental impacts, and will help improve safety, comfort and convenience in both work and day-to-day life within the Okhta district. This will be made possible through the use of passive and proactive energy-saving technologies throughout the entire complex, including using natural daylight, natural ventilation, a multi-layered façade to promote heat-recovery, hybrid floor-heating and cooling systems, a cascade hot-water supply system, and a co-generation and energy control system. The facility is expected to use about 50% less energy than traditional office complexes, as a result.

No construction will be undertaken in four government-protected areas — covering an area of less than 0.8 hectares, and representing less than 15% of the total project footprint — throughout the site. These facilities will remain intact, will be excluded from any construction and — following landscaping — will form part of the complex’s public space and park.

Gazprom Neft is now continuing work on finalising the architectural concept and clarifying final details on the future complex.

Notes for editors

Cape Okhta

Until the mid-1990s, Cape Okhta was home to working production facilities belonging to Petrozavod — one of Russia’s oldest shipbuilders. After that business ceased trading, all production facilities were abandoned, and remained so until the mid 2000s. Gazprom Neft acquired this land, and the buildings thereon, in 2006, to build the Okhta-Centre mixed-use (public and business) complex, where the new Gazprom headquarters — a 396-metre skyscraper — had been expected to be built. That project sparked a public debate, with prominent cultural, scientific and political figures speaking on behalf of opponents and supporters. The company ultimately decided to undertake a wider-ranging (and still higher) project in the Lakhta district, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland. That complex significantly outstripped the Okhta Centre project, both in terms of height (at 462 metres), and in terms of total office space, becoming the tallest building in Europe and the northernmost skyscraper in the world.

In 2019 Gazprom Neft took the decision to create an architectural concept for developing the 4.7-square-hectare Cape Okhta site, with a modern, low-build multifunctional complex (including a landscaped park and a public space for local residents and tourists) now expected to appear here — this new project being a logical extension of the district’s development programme.

Nikken Sekkei

One of the world’s largest architectural planning organisations, with a history going back more than 115 years, Nikken Sekkei is consistently ranked among the best in the world. The company has completed over 25,000 projects — in more than 250 cities — throughout 50 countries including China, Korea, ASEAN countries and the Middle East, India, Spain, Russia and the CIS. The company’s strength lies in its ability to manage complex projects without the need to engage third-party firms. Its services include urban planning and architectural design, landscaping, and designing civil engineering and construction systems. The slogan “EXPERIENCE, INTEGRATED” has been selected by the Nikken Group to represent the key principle guiding all of its activities.

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