Russia, St. Petersburg, Palace Square, 6-8, the General Staff Building.
STUDIO 44. ENFILADE EXHIBITION IN THE GENERAL STAFF BUILDING
THE TRIUMPHAL STAIRCASE. STRUCTURE
The main staircase leading up to the enfilade is the first item on the display of Studio 44’s works. Why does the main staircase look the way it looks? Why the proportions, the outline, the geometry? The sketches on display hold the answer. Step by step, they take us through the birth of form.
The key configuration lines of the Triumphal Staircase have passed on from the drawings to real life: they are the red marks on the floor before the staircase and the stair flights. The New Grand Enfilade axis is also marked in red: the line begins in the first courtyard and ends at the end of the exhibition space. The inner wall of the building along the Moyka River bears the trace of the windows (red marks) that had to be bricked up to prevent the wall from falling down during the construction of a residential building next door.
THE DOORS OF THE NEW GRAND ENFILADE
The doors of the New Grand Enfilade are an important part of the exhibition hall architecture. As the large, twelve-metre, doors open, the Enfilade comes into full view. The Enfilade is not straight, like the Hermitage enfilades, but narrows along the lines of perspective, thus drawing the viewer in. This effect is not superimposed: it was part of the original layout of the tapered building on the Dvortsovaya Square.
The opening of the Baroque perspective of the New Grand Enfilade is a ceremony. It is a special event, much anticipated by museum visitors, just as much as they look forward to the famous mechanical peacock in the Small Hermitage coming alive.
In the CONTAINER CINEMA, the objective eye of the camera watches over the relationships that Studio 44’s buildings have developed with their residents, visitors, and observers. The films show the dialogue between architecture and the life within it from the time right after the buildings were opened toten or fifteen years later.
THE HOUSE OF MODELS
The model, whether hand-made or 3D-printed, is still the king of architectural representation. It gives the best idea of the structural nature of the building as it is being designed or after it has been erected—even better than what you can grasp from inside or outside the building itself.
In this room, you will find seventy architectural models of forty-four projects by Studio 44 spanning the past twenty-five years. The HOUSE OF MODELS was built to showcase them. You can walk up the steps to take a closer look at each of the models. The numbers on the models correspond to the descriptions on the walls.
Architectural design is a kind of research. ARCHIVES is an attempt at classifying the research results for thirty-eight of Studio 44’s projects. The projects displayed on the right of the red line, with the exception of the high-rise buildings near Ladozhsky Railway Station, were realised. To the left of the line, you will find concepts, sketches, and projects that are currently under construction. One side of each poster stand is devoted to theoretical considerations, diagrams, and blueprints. On the reverse side, there are photographs of buildings or visualisations of projects. You will be able to both glance quickly over the architectural image and to explore the concept in depth.
THE ORIGIN OF FORM
In this room, we lift the veil of mystery from the way architectural form originates in Studio 44’s projects. The form may take its impulse from movement flows (Olympic Park Railway Station), socialisation needs (Boris Eifman Dance Academy, Evgeny Primakov Gymnasium), integration into a natural landscape (Sirius Educational Centre for Gifted Children), a shared memory (The Museum of the Defence and Siege of Leningrad). The impact from the main impulse is further modified by additional ones: in Studio 44’s work, the final form tends to be a result of several factors and the architectural device simultaneously operates in several dimensions. For example, the plasticity of the Olympic Park Railway Station has been derived not only from the intensity and direction of passenger flows, but also from the natural environment: the mountain silhouette, seismic conditions, and the wind map. In Studio 44’s projects, it is always the architecture of communication, whether it is transportational, social, intercultural, or temporal.
The Origin of Form section's transformations
In all three exhibition halls of the New Grand Enfilade, architects created ways to transform the space. A new exhibition can be put up without closing down the previous one. Different combinations of closed and open leaflets change the display almost instantly.
In The Origin of Form section, two projects—Olympic Park Railway Station and the Museum of the Defence and Siege of Leningrad—are displayed on the outer surfaces of the transformable walls. The other four projects are displayed on the inner surfaces.
During the Studio 44. Enfilade exhibition, visitors can watch the halls transform and the display changed.
THE HERMITAGE GARDENS
Studio 44’s architects viewed the General Staff Building as an extension of the Hermitage spatial structure and designed the New Grand Enfilade as exhibition halls alternating with hanging gardens and mechanical transformations. The platforms that connect the halls have built-in planters that can be filled with earth to grow trees. The General Staff Building has no fully functioning hanging garden yet, but a small fragment has been created for the exhibition.
THE GENERAL STAFF BUILDING. METAMORPHOSES
In this room, we present not only the ideological foundations of the project and its final version, but also the long evolution of the project’s elements, their selection, the way towards the form. The restoration and adaptation project is showcased in several layers/levels:
The lower layer comprises photographs of the General Staff Building before restoration began. Compared to the way the museum looks now, they help appreciate the scale and quality of the metamorphosis the space has undergone. Above the lower layer, there are two layers of sketches and diagrams that explain the project’s ideology and show the search for the right architectural solutions. The next layer is that of final blueprints. And, finally, the top layer comprises the large prints by one of the project’s authors, Vladimir Lemekhov, architect and artist. The original drawings by Vladimir Lemekhov are displayed in the glass cases in the centre of the room.
The model in the centre demonstrates the way the exhibition space is transformed in a New Grand Enfilade hall.
THE PEVCHESKAYA STAIRCASE. INFINITY
The New Grand Enfilade of the General Staff Building begins at the Triumphal Staircase near Rossi’s Triumphal Arches and ends at the Pevcheskaya Staircase in the narrow corner of the building by the Pevchesky Bridge. The Pevcheskaya Staircase courtyard has a conspicuous irregular shape of an asymmetric triangle: in street view, it is the famous sharp corner of the General Staff building. In his design, Carlo Rossi rotated the last cross-sectional building away from the others. The Pevcheskaya Staircase also responds to the asymmetry of the courtyard and turns away from the New Grand Enfilade axis.
However, the virtual axis itself, when drawn on past the walls of the General Staff Building, points straight to the spire of St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in the St. Peter and Paul Fortress. Thisstriking architectural feature was discovered while designing the museum space. It is unlikely that Rossi had planned for this effect; at least, there is no documentary evidence to confirm that. However, the line of perspective disappearing into infinity is the basis of St. Petersburg’s spatial matrix, and finding it in this restoration project appears to be a rightful and logical conclusion for the building, 190 years after it was erected.