1st prize of International competition
Russia, Kaliningrad
Design: 2014
Client: Government of the Kaliningradsky Region

Authors of the project:

Architects: N. Yawein, I. Grigoryev, I. Kozhin
with R. Pokrovskiy

Visualisation: A. Vetkin, A. Patrikeev

Transport section: The Institute of Territory Development (St. Petersburg)

Text: L. Likhacheva

The old Konigsberg (Kaliningrad since 1946) was wiped from the face of the earth in 1944-46. In its place, a new city was built; however, in the city center the experimental rewriting of history turned out to be a failure. The wasteland site of the demolished Royal Castle (18th century) and the unfinished bulk of the House of Soviets near it (1970—1980s) still bear witness of the discontinued history of urban development in Konigsberg—Kaliningrad.

The authors of the “Konigsberg | Kaliningrad: A Topology of Continuity” concept stand against cloning monuments from a past long gone, as well as against demolishing the heritage of the Soviet times. According to them, the new city center should emerge from a historic planning structure, with the reconstruction of its scale and building types rather than the formal stylistic features.

They contrast the bleak standardized development with a polyphony of environments that is the old Konigsberg, which used to consist of very different urban spaces (Altstadt, Lastadie, Vorstadt, Lomse and others). Building restrictions for each of the zones serve the purpose of recreating their individuality. The strictest regulations have been drawn up for Altstadt, where the two-meter-thick ‘cultural layer’ hides the foundations and basements of the historic houses. After archeological investigation and excavation, these ruins will serve as basis for new buildings.

The river Pregolya and the island of Kneiphof (the Island of Kant), with the 18th century Gothic cathedral in a landscape park, remain the key space of the city. The buildings on the banks of the river are organized in a cascade, their height and dimensions gradually increasing as they get further away from the waterfront and further inland. Behind the new small scale buildings along the Pregolya, rise the districts built in the Soviet times. Thus, the center of Kaliningrad forms something like an inverted dome with wide panoramas, long perspective lines, interconnected focal points and a picturesque superimposition of the visual connections.

However, the King’s Mountain remains the dominant feature of this urban landscape. The new business and cultural center on the King’s Mountain is a megastructure including a theater, a museum, a conference center, shops, office buildings, galleries and a media library. The House of Soviets and the new Theater grow out of the 15-meter-high platform that comprises many functions. The Theater is erected in the Royal Castle, taking up the whole yard space without coming into contact with the historic castle walls. The semi-basement of the castle surrounding the new theater building is covered with a glass roof and houses the Museum of the History of Kaliningrad.