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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

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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