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The Nikolsky Rows
Architecture
The Nikolsky Rows
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Location: Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Year: 2020

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The Nikolsky Rows are an example of a gostiny dvor, a very distinctive Russian type of a historic market  complex.
The building fell into disrepair and remained abandoned until a recent restoration. Today, the complex is occupied by a hotel. Until recently, the inner courtyard was taken up by a parking lot.    The Nikolsky Rows remained excluded from the context of the city.

The owners of the building made up their mind to turn the private courtyard into a new centre of the historic district of Kolomna, and develop it as a pop-up public space. Its use may vary in accordance with a seasonal scenario, whether it is winter or summer. The objects require minimal intervention to alter their function.

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It is an ensemble within an ensemble. The composition of the renovated courtyard, with its symmetry and a 
rigid axial structure, is in line with the principles of the Neoclassical building that surrounds it. The objects itself are stylistically different to create an eclectic character so typical of traditional Russian winter fairs. The prevalent use of wood brings the space together visually. All structures are temporary and can be quickly assembled or disassembled.

The centrepiece of the courtyard is the Rotating Triumphal Arch. It serves as the pivoting point of the composition and marks the crossroads where visitors choose their direction.
In the context of a fair, the Arch becomes the symbol of the Eurasian nature of Russian culture.
Site plan




The Sliding Hill is also a 19th-century St. Petersburg staple. 
This traditional element of a winter fair becomes a metaphor for theend lessly long courtyard — however, now one can cross half of it in a matter of seconds. 
Constructed of stage scaffolding and sided with wood, it has a Nordic look and brings modern Scandinavian architecture to mind, while the canopy at the top gives it a vintage, ‘Olympic’ air. ​​​​​​​



In the summer, the Sliding Hill is easy to reassemble to create an amphitheatre filled with planters. This green public recreation space hosts lectures, workshops and open-air film screenings. Under the canopy, there is a summer bar. 












The other half of the courtyard is full of Asian references. Its most outstanding feature is the timber stage evoking the projects by Kengo Kuma. The shape of the stage is a reinterpretation of the Neoclassical portico on the arcade of the historic building.​​​​​​​





The shopping street is composed of small booths capped with illuminated roofs. They are made of timber with 
polycarbonate siding. In the winter, it resembles the street from Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki, while in the summer it turns into a market place with a public kitchen garden.

Observation tower is another significant element. The tower is constructed of Layher scaffolding covered with white metal mesh. Inside, there is a matte polycarbonate shaft that is illuminated during night time. Inside the shaft, there is a staircase up to the observation deck. The tower redefines the very meaning of context: it provides a unique opportunity to view one of the most mysterious districts of St. Petersburg from a new angle.




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