Reconstruction of the building of the 20th century
3 Manezhny Lane, St. Petersburg, Russia
Design: 2006-2008
Realization: 2007-2009

Authors of the project:

Architects: Nikita Yavein, Vasiliy Romantsev, Tatyana Sologub, Georgy Snezhkin, Kseniya Schastlivtseva

Structural engineer: Dmitry Yaroshevsky

The new offices of Studio44 occupy the premises of an historical building originally built in 1911 in central St. Petersburg. It is just a hundred meters away from Preobrazhenskaya Square and the Empire Transfiguration Cathedral by Vasiliy Stasov. The three existing storeys could not accommodate the team of over 100 people, thus, in the process of conversion the building received a mansard storey.

The curve of the mansard visually conceals the height of the addition (6,5 m) and is complementary to the silhouette of the cathedral. When asked about the origins of the curved geometry, Nikita Yavein gives examples of the Vikings settling for the night under an upside-down longship, or a boa constrictor digesting an elephant from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

The stories might lead even further - to the Pagan Longship cult shared by the Finns and Karelians, who would later cover their churches with longship-like cupolas. The chthonic references left aside, the internal space resembles a ship – a porthole window looking onto the Transfiguration cathedral in Nikita Yavein’s office, oak floorboards, wooden railings, metal ropes etc. The mansard is a fine statement of contemporary eco and regional architecture – it is the first mansard in St. Petersburg made of local glued timber.

The two levels of the mansard form a single space. The only exception being two cabinets in glass partitions on the second level. This unavoidable separation diminished the spatial effect created by the small square windows of the firewall. Still, afternoon sunrays coming through the windows animate the internal space and provide certain allusions to the Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp by Le Corbusier.

The historical storeys are a sharp contrast to the mansard. They are interpreted as classical enfilades with bright-coloured walls – blue, maroon, green are Nikita Yavein’s favourite colours. The rooms of the enfilades are separated by massive folding wooden doors – a replica of the New Grand Enfialde doors of the Hermitage in General Staff project (currently - in realization).

Footprint area 451 sq. m
Gross floor area 1 186 sq. m
Structural volume 6 484 cub. m