• Ira Bliznets

Brand New Holland

The New Holland today is definitely a brand. After the renovation started it became one of the most favorite, famous and fancy places for leisure and pleasure. If one is thinking of going for a walk in the city center - The New Holland will be the place. It offers maximum comfort with cafes, restaurants, shops and markets, kid zones, educational and entertainment spots indoor and outdoor for all ages and people of various interests and tastes.

And it is totally brand new - the historic constructions are being fleetingly renovated after many years of oblivion turning into the battlefield of world leading architects and designers open for visitors to come and enjoy. Though for almost all the time of the island's existence the situation was the opposite - it was closed for outsiders, and citizens could only observe it from outside across canal.

New Holland look in Summer 2018

Talking about the history of New Holland we should first mention that actually those are two man-made islands that are united into one architectural complex, surrounded by Moika river, Kryukov and Admiraltejskij canals. Inside of this triangle there is a pond connected with inner canals to Moika River and Krykov canal. This canal appeared in the times of Peter the Great, so did the New Holland itself. Btw, last summer this pond was hosting a tribe of inflated flamingos. In winter it turned into a big skating rink.

It might seem that there are more than enough islands in the area. Why would anybody want to make more of them with their own hands? But there were certain reasons for that. It might be explained with the fact that Petersburg had been constructed at the very same time as the initiation of Russian fleet, and new ships were under construction to participate in the Northern war against Sweden. The Admiralty and shipyard appeared on the map of the new city already in 1704. Delivery of materials was easily operated by water. So to help the process even more they dug out Kryukov and Admiralteysky canals. The triangle piece of land that was shaped after the excavations was called New Holland. They say it got its name for the district nearby that locals used to call "Holland" - it was inhabited with foreign masters shipbuilders, primarily from Holland.

As the island appeared, it became obvious that it might be used for storage of materials brought to the Admiralty and shipyard. Numerous barns were constructed to store and dry wood. Later the wooden barns were reconstructed in brick. In the beginning of 19th century they decided to start using barns to store the stock of maritime office after it became the host for the island. The Maritime Office also ordered to build up a prison for denounced sailors where they could also serve the country working as carpenters, smiths etc. In the very end of 19th century an experimental pool to try the new ships on water was constructed here, along with laboratory that was meant to produce smoke-free gunpowder.

Later on in the beginning of 20th century the island suffered from tremendous fire that demolished most of the buildings of New Holland as well as the districts nearby. It was also harmed by the WWII bombing. But as it was claimed to be the cultural monument protected by the State in 1920s, art historians did their best to attract attention to the island initially offering to turn it in Culture Center in 1977.

Lack of money and unstable political situation delayed the reconstruction of historical heritage object till 2010 when Millhouse LLC Company won the competition to have a right to work out the general plan of reconstruction and renovation of The New Holland complex. Another competition in 2011 "New Ideas for New Holland" was won by American architecture bureau WorkAC. According to their idea, the island is meant to be a town in the city with multiple cultural centers, thetres, museums, exhibition halls, educational institutions and scientific labs to attract not only the citizens of Saint Petersburg but also intellectual society from all over the world.

The reconstruction is still on. But today it is already a place that has a lot to offer. The outlook and the content of the island idea changes frequently to make it interesting for those who come here often, visit it for the first time. It is also eager to follow the latest trends in the world to be the true "pearl" of the city in present as it used to be in the past.

#NewHolland #SaintPetersburg #eventsinRussia

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