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St. Petersburg’s general plan. How the city will develop


Andrey Fedotov, reporter: “At this time of day – and it’s 9 AM - you can only move quickly through Krasnoselskiy district on your feet. There is no alternative. There’s no subway here, while cars and public transport are locked in a seemingly endless jam. It is quicker on foot, although much colder”


The Gorelovskiy crossover is to blame. It has been under renovation. And while it is being expanded, it has turned the area into yet another cog for the city’s transportation network.

  • Do you often get stuck here?

  • Every day. After the crossover renovation started, it has been next to impossible to get out of the area. Doesn’t matter if you take Veteranov Street or the WSD – it always takes an hour just to get out of the area.

St. Petersburg could not avoid the problem of every major city in the world – when the rate of infrastructural development cannot keep up with the general plan.

Illustrator Ilya Tikhomirov creates a peculiar plan of St. Petersburg’s modern development. He puts all the city’s constructions into his caricatures. Among his latest works – ant hill, kettle, corn, “Chizhik” and two new subway stations.

There could’ve been several times more of these drawings. Because the general plan of 2005 had it all – on almost a thousand pages. Subway with all the hotly anticipated stations, bridges and roads which have not yet appeared. Chairman of the Permanent Commission on Urban Planning Mikhail Amosov explains – that document is no longer relevant. At that time, the plan was worked out in accordance with necessities, not possibilities.

Mikhail Amosov, Chairman of the Permanent Commission on Urban Planning: “General plan is like an oversized jacket. You make an oversized jacket and then grow up to wear it tight. But in some aspects we have reached a stage where we need a new jacket, but we are trying to sew patches on the old one”.

In 13 years, the vector of the city’s development and financial situation have both changed. Although the main transport objects have been completed. The beltway and the WSD helped St. Petersburg to step into the new millennium. The ESD will be built before the middle of the 21-st century. That is the plan St. Petersburg has been working on.

The city’s top construction planner Yuriy Bakey did not tell what exactly shall be built in the nearest and not-so-nearest futures. Although he hinted – every new general plan represents 80% of the previous one, with alterations depending on the size of the population. According to forecasts, there will be 7 million people living in St. Petersburg in 30 years. By then, there will be more roads built, intersections will be smarter, subways will have more lines.

  • Is everything going according to the plan?

  • This question causes mixed emotions. I would like to say yes, but certainly it’s a no! Plan is a plan, life is life. But there’s no catastrophe anywhere.

And also – St. Petersburg is the only major city with illustrious history, which had a site developing system in place right at the moment it was founded. In the pre-revolution times, during the USSR era and in the modern-day Russia – it has always stuck to the plan.

Andrey Fedotov, reporter: “The first plans of St. Petersburg’s development were worked out by Peter the Great in the beginning of the 18th century. The blueprints were authored by Trezini and Leblon. Here is the long-forgotten monument with their names on it. Both architects suggested that the city’s center should be placed onto the Vasilievskiy Island, but that was the only thing they agreed on. The Italian wanted to develop the capital towards the Baltics and get it closer to Europe, while the Frenchman opted for an ellipse-shaped fortress, segmented into districts. Eventually, both plans were partially approved. Although Vasilievskiy Island did not become the city’s center.

The huge monument to Lenin should’ve been placed at Troitskaya Square, next to the Petropavlovskaya Fortress.

The fact that urban planning has not always been fulfilled is also signified at the “Unfulfilled St. Petersburg” exhibition. It holds dozens of projects which have not become reality for different reasons. The City Duma building was never built due to shortage of financing, the open-air metro gave way to trams, a monumental Concert Hall in Neva’s vicinity did not fit into the architectural ensemble – like many other projects.

Lyudmila Kirikova, curator of the “Unfulfilled St. Petersburg” exhibition: “I’m sorry, but thank heavens that these projects have not been fulfilled. Some would have indeed made our city prettier, but those are just a few. The rest were aggressively slotted into the historically generated context of the city where they were designed”.

Urbanist Evgeniya Arefyeva also hopes that the present look of St. Petersburg will be retained in the future. She predicts that the city will not change dramatically over three decades. This is a short patch of time for the Northern Capital. Although in China this is enough time to create mega-cities out of nothing. For instance, Shenzhen – with its population of 12 million people – grew out of a fishing village in just 40 years.

Evgeniya Arefyeve, head of “Urbanika” project: “We need to optimize what we have. And create comfortable environment. I think we need to look at Europe – more than looking at China. Let’s do that”.

What direction will St. Petersburg’s development take while the city cruises towards the middle of the 21st century? Citizens will know the answer to this question only in 2020 – when the new plan will be ready. But we want to believe that the new plan will ensure that our historic and modern city would see less traffic jams, more public transportation and enough resources to fulfill ideas.