22 July 2022

Dean of the SPbGASU Faculty of Architecture Ekaterina Vozniak
gave a lecture for the National Engineering University of Peru

On July 20, the Dean of the SPbGASU faculty of architecture, DSc in Architecture Ekaterina Vozniak held an online lecture for students of the National Engineering University of Peru (Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería), dedicated to the architecture of St Petersburg.

Dean of the SPbGASU Faculty of Architecture Ekaterina Vozniak presents her presentation

The event was held with the support of the Russian Embassy in Peru and the Committee for External Relations of the Government of St Petersburg, it was included in the series of conferences of invited experts from Moscow and St Petersburg on the history and culture of Russia on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the birth of the first Emperor of Russia, Peter I, the founder of St Petersburg, and the 146th anniversary of the National Engineering University.

The lecture was preceded by a video presentation about the city and St Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering.

✔ The guests were welcomed by the director of the Cultural Center of the National Engineering University Javier Galarza. He thanked the lecturer and noted that for students from Latin America this meeting was a great opportunity to learn more about the unique architectural traditions of the Northern capital.

“It is a great honor for me to be here today,” emphasized Ekaterina Vozniak.

The dean began the story with the founding of the city in 1703 by the first Russian Emperor Peter I. St Petersburg was built on the lands conquered from Sweden, and was of strategic importance: it connected Russia with the largest European cities through access to the Baltic Sea and the famous trade route "from the Varangians to the Greeks." The main problem of the swampy area was regular flooding due to rising water levels, so granite embankments are considered one of the most important urban planning solutions, which have become a reliable flood protection – and one of the city's architectural landmarks.

“By the end of the 1730s, the city was significantly rebuilt, the main principles of its design were laid down,” explained Ekaterina Vozniak.

According to the plan of Peter I, the city was created on the model of European capitals. For this, the emperor invited famous foreign architects to Russia. So, they developed a project for the Peter and Paul Fortress. The structure was erected on the island according to the principles of the 18th century: it is surrounded by bastions necessary to protect against attacks from the water. One of its main attractions is the Peter and Paul Cathedral, built on the model of the German Lutheran church (designed by Domenico Trezzini), which became the burial place of Peter and all subsequent emperors and empresses.

According to Ekaterina Vozniak, the individual objects of the historical center are closely interconnected and form a system of ensembles: the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island, the Neva embankments and Palace Square, which includes the Winter Palace in the Elizabethan Baroque style, designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the General Staff and the Square, built in the spirit of classicism (the author of the project is Carl Rossi), as well as the Alexandrian Column – a monument to Russia's victory over Napoleon. The dean also noted the visual and compositional connection of the city squares, where the main architectural monuments are located – St. Isaac's Cathedral (designed by Auguste Montferrand) on the square of the same name, the Bronze Horseman on Senate Square, the connection of the Field of Mars, the Summer Garden and the majestic suburban park ensembles – Peterhof, Gatchina and Oranienbaum.

Construction of St. Isaac's Cathedral. Drawing by Auguste Montferrand

“Nevsky Prospekt, along with Voznesensky Prospekt and Gorokhovaya Street, which forms the image of the city, combines different styles and eras. Here you will find buildings of classicism, baroque, art nouveau. Along the avenue are the Kazan Cathedral, reminiscent of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome, and the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in the style of Russian traditional churches of the 17th century. All these buildings are very different, but at the same time they have approximately the same height and the same structure of the facades, which creates an unusual but harmonious environment,” the lecturer said. She also added that the center is characterized by very dense buildings – especially for residential buildings with well courtyards, where poor people historically settled.

Another integral part of the historical environment of St Petersburg is the Naval Cathedral of St Nicholas in Kronstadt, whose dome is visible from the city on cloudless days. The cathedral was built in the Russian-Byzantine style according to the project of Vasily Kosyakov, a graduate, teacher and director of the Institute of Civil Engineers (one of the former names of SPbGASU).

In the XX–XXl centuries, another city from the sleeping areas “grew up” around the historical center in the spirit of the architecture of Soviet modernism. This made it possible to resettle cramped apartments in the center. Nevertheless, residents of St Petersburg feel like a single cultural community and consider the city center to be a common property and value.

Ekaterina Vozniak also spoke about the new ensemble built in St Petersburg in the 21st century – the Lakhta Center skyscraper, which has become the dominant feature of the new ensemble, which includes the park named after the 300th anniversary of St Petersburg, a water park, the Zenit Arena sports stadium and modern bridges.

“I will give an example linking Russia and South America. The historian Yuri Knorozov, who deciphered the writing of the ancient Maya, lived in an ordinary residential area in St Petersburg, and worked at the Institute of Ethnography, located in the historical center. A monument to the scientist stands in the city of Merida in Mexico,” she shared.

At the end of the lecture, the audience asked a lot of questions, including the impact of globalization on the metropolis, the level of security and the current state of the so-called "gray belt" of the Northern capital.

More about the cycle of events (website of the Russian Embassy in Peru) 

Text: Aleksandra Podolnikova, 
International Relations Division

Photo: International Relations Division


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