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Group Fights to Save Wooden Buildings

Seven historic wooden buildings have been torn down in Pushkin over the last two years.

Published: February 19, 2014 (Issue # 1798)



  • Neglected wooden architecture in and around St. Petersburg is disappearing at an alarming rate.
    Photo: Christiaan Triebert / flickr

St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko spoke with activists advocating preservation of the city’s architectural heritage on Feb. 5. Film director Alexander Sokurov, the coordinator of Zhivoi Gorod public movement Yulia Minutina, Vice-Governor Marat Oganesyan and the Legislative Assembly Deputy Maksim Reznik all attended the meeting.

The governor supported the activists’ initiative to rent out prominent historical sites with wooden architecture in the city and its suburbs to investors at a low price, provided that they fully renovate them. According to the activists, all wooden architecture in and around St. Petersburg is in critical condition. Over the past decade, wooden mansions and villas, which used to be a point of pride in St. Petersburg, have vanished from the suburbs. In fact, such buildings appear to be one of the most vulnerable aspects of the city’s architectural heritage. Poltavchenko promised to consider the project.

The Cultural Heritage Preservation Council proposed a similar project in 2013. Restoring wooden buildings is an expensive and labor-intensive process, so private-public partnerships have been floated to address the issue. According to the council’s work group, who inspected 80 examples of wooden architecture in 2013, seven buildings have been torn down in Pushkin over the last two years and 15 buildings were destroyed in the Kurortny District during the last ten years. Oranienbaum has suffered the most tremendous loss: almost no wooden mansions remain there.

A similar project was approved and completed in Moscow in 2012. The program was called Monument for a Ruble (Pamyatnik za Rubl). When the city could no longer afford the restoration of architectural monuments it turned to private investors.

Under the program, historical sites are rented to investors for 49 years. If the building is restored within in five years, he is offered a lease at the minimum rate of 1 ruble ($0,03) per square meter. Prolonged reconstruction results in a fine. Such experience has already been considered successful in many cities outside Russia.

Officials and activists at the meeting also announced a decision to build a memorial and museum for the Izhora line of defense in Kupchino, where they have already reconstructed one of the World War II bunkers there. In addition to this, a decision on the Nikolsky market restoration on Ulitsa Sadovaya is to be submitted by the Cultural Heritage Preservation Council.

Another issue raised at the meeting concerned the law against demolishing buildings without first seeking permission for construction, which was approved last year. The power to oversee compliance and levy fines to builders who violate the law have not been distributed among the various city authorities responsible for building in the city. As a result of the meeting, the participants agreed to the creation of an interdepartmental working group, run by Oganesyan, which is to consider all contentious construction cases in the historic city center.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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