New materiality: Finnish-Russian WOODBLOCK workshop was accomplished in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg
On March 7, the Institute of Finland hosted a presentation of the results of a project seminar (workshop) for students and young architects WOODBLOCK. WOODBLOCK was organized by Project Baltia magazine with the support of Consulate General of Finland, Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture of St. Petersburg and Institute of Finland in St. Petersburg.

Within 10 days, the seminar participants – an international group of young architects from Russia and Finland – divided into two teams and developed a project of the city territory (so called “Severniy Parus” site in Kronstadt). Timber was the required material for all buildings by the workshop program. As a result, two projects were presented to the jury: “Natural modularity” (Eetu Ilmari Hyvönen (Tampere University of Technology), Anastasia Ivanova (Saint Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering), Jovana Lukic (University of Oulu), Michael Adrian Szczerepa (Tampere University of Technology), Alexandra Borodina (St. Petersburg State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture) and “Organism” (Maria Lyashko (St. Petersburg State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture), Innokenty Belykh (MARCHI), Romain Philippe A. Fassotte (Tampere University of Technology), Rebecca Lys Nelson Wolfe (University of Oulu), Frida Abraamyan (Saint Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering).

The first team divided the territory of “Severniy parus” into “continental” and “island” parts. One is characterized by buildings in the form of habitual blocks, the second is developing according to the modernist principle: multi-storey residential modules are freely located in the natural landscape. In this case, the “islands” rise in the Natural swampy landscape, which is a current condition of the territory. The town-planning approach of the second group of students is more traditional: the scheme is based on the “tree of channels”, its waters circulate around the city blocks of different population density. Both projects involve the use of a variety of constructive technologies that provide functional flexibility and high construction speed with the use of wood. CLT-technologies are most often used in the bearing structures. In the decoration one can find more exotic options, for example, the use of wooden bricks.

The jury did not award the 1st and 2nd prizes to the teams; Instead, the project ‘Natural modularity’ received a diploma “For the original idea of territory development”, and ‘Organism’ got the diploma “For the quality of environmental and imaginative solution.”

Opening the public part of the presentation, the chairman of the jury, the chief architect of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Grigoriev, emphasized the relevance of the theme of the wood chosen for the workshop: “The theme of wooden housing construction is important, the city government is considering the development of wooden housing construction, and not only individual but also of a public type. It is clear that it will be necessary to change some town-planning norms, and this task is now set by the government. I was pleased to study the results of work of international teams – academic, young, enterprising, creative. I felt that Russian and foreign architects find solutions to the challenges in these works that we face today.”

Susanna Niinivaara, the Consul of the Consulate General of Finland thanked Project Baltia magazine for organizing the workshop and noted that without qualitative discussions and the opportunity to learn, including from each other, the participants could not achieve such results.

One of the workshop experts Vladimir Linov commented on the projects: “It’s nice that the students demonstrated their knowledge and awareness of what is happening in the field of wooden architecture. We see that they know not only the technology, but also understand the urban problems. It’s amazing how much they did in these 10 days in such a high quality.”

The director of the MP of JSC “S-DOK” (“NLK Domostroeniye”), who was the official partner of the workshop, Konstantin Blinov thanked the tutors, students and organizers, noting that this was “the first project to develop a territory that uses modern technologies of the wooden industry and wooden house construction”. “Everything I’ve seen before, is characterized by the use of wood as a decorative, finishing material. Here I see the possibility of organizing the space using wood, which is very important, “ – Konstantin concluded.

Satu Huuhka acknowledged that the task set before the participants was quite complex: “The territory was not small and not simple, and for many people work was going on in unfamiliar space, with an unfamiliar language. And in this framework, both teams were able to present very high-quality projects.” Finally, Satu expressed her intention to show the exhibition of the workshop at Tampere University of Technology.

Ilya Filimonov, commenting on the decision taken by the jury, stressed that “the jury decided not to divide everything into first and second places, because one project had its own strengths, the other – its own. Thus we decided to note the strengths of each project. One contains more of a urban planning approach, it is a concept of development, expressing general principles of development of the environment. The second project has elaborated design solutions, and it gives interesting answers to environmental issues. ”

Vladimir Frolov stressed that an important aspect of the project is an environmental factor. 2017 is declared the Year of Ecology in Russia, and at the same time it is obvious that the wood and ecology go hand in hand – as components of sustainable development of the urban environment. Artem Pavlovsky gave a development to this idea, and commented on the environmental component of the projects: “Being a town-planning ecologist, I want to mention first of all the courage of both teams, who undertook the design of such an objectively complex territory. I really liked the attention to the wood and to the water. I would like to wish that in future the students will pay more attention to protection from the negative impact of water, which, unfortunately, is present in this territory. I will also note once again that for the first time I saw a really elaborated urban block solution for the territory in St. Petersburg, made of such eco-friendly material as wood.”

The presentation was completed by Elizaveta Parkkonen, architect of Helin & Co Architects, who gave a lecture about the timber in residential and public projects of the bureau.

WOODBLOCK workshop

Curator: Pekka Helin, Head of Helin & Co bureau

Tutors: Jaakko Parkkonen, architect of Helin & Co Architects; Fyodor Oparin, architect, lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture, Academy of Arts; Lisa Voigtländer (Tampere University of Technology)


Pekka Helin, Head of Helin & Co bureau (Helsinki)

Vladimir Grigoriev, chief architect of St. Petersburg, head of the Committee for Urban Development and Architecture (chairman of the jury)

Anna Katkhanova (Committee for Urban Development and Architecture)

Satu Huuhka (Tampere University of Technology)

Natalia Trunova (Lengiprogor, St. Petersburg)

Mikhail Milchik, historian of architecture, member of the Council for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage under the Government of St. Petersburg and under the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation

Ilya Filimonov, the leading architect of INTERKOLUMNIUM bureau (St. Petersburg)

Artem Pavlovsky, Head of the Department for urban and ecological substantiation for the Development of the Territories of St. Petersburg, SPb GKU “NIPTs General Plan of St. Petersburg”

Vladimir Frolov, Editor-in-Chief of Project Baltia magazine

Supported by:

Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg

Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture of St. Petersburg

Institute of Finland in St. Petersburg

Archsoviet of Moscow

Tampere University of Technology

University of Oulu

Official partner: NLK Domostroeniye

Partner: ASTAL

Info partner: Form magazine

For a detailed analysis of the projects and expert comments read the 29th issue of Project Baltia – “Wood”.

Text: Ksenia Surikova

Photo: Alisa Gill

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Opening Week of the 5th Architecture Biennale will take place from September 11th – 15th, 2019 in multiple venues in the heart of Tallinn. Dedicated to the theme “Beauty Matters: The Resurgence of Beauty”, the international architecture festival, organised by the Estonian Centre for Architecture and curated by Dr. Yael Reisner, celebrates the aesthetic experience in architecture, after almost 80 years of cultural bias.

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