Image courtesy WORKac

New Holland Island in St. Petersburg, Russia, designed by WORKac. Click on the slideshow button to see more images.

With a plan to create a park and transform existing warehouses into spaces for art, design, education, and commerce, WORK Architecture Company (WORKac) won an international competition to redesign New Holland Island in St. Petersburg, Russia. The 19.8-acre island, which Peter the Great developed as the country's first military port in 1721, will be opened to the public for the first time in its history. WORKac beat out David Chipperfield from London, MVRDV from Rotterdam, and Studio 44 from St. Petersburg in the final round of the competition.

WORKac partners Amale Andraos and Dan Wood hope to turn the island into a "cultural city within a city," tapping into St. Petersburg's deep cultural resources. The New York City-based architects approached their master plan as a way to create a public park where the topography will define an outdoor amphitheater and performance space and alterations to historic buildings will accommodate a range of cultural uses.

"Our project maximizes the potential of the amazing historic structures on the island," state Andraos and Wood. "By concentrating on subtraction - rather than the addition of new architectural elements - we were able to carve new spaces in the existing warehouses, linked by a public promenade."

The architects plan to build a landscaped "wedge" with a park on top and infrastructure (such as parking and a cogeneration power facility) tucked below. They also propose a large tent that can be erected for temporary exhibitions and disassembled later.

Construction is expected to begin by the winter of 2012 and take seven years, says Andraos. In the meantime, the client hopes to seed the project with temporary uses to bring the public onto the site, adds Andraos.

The ambitious project is being built by New Holland Development and the Iris Foundation, a nonprofit contemporary art organization in Russia founded in 2008 by Dasha Zhukova. The foundation runs the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, which occupies a 1926 Constructivist bus garage in Moscow designed by Konstantin Melnikov. Zhukova, who is 30 years old, is the girlfriend of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Iris hired the London-based Architecture Foundation to organize the master plan design competition.