Design + Architecture

Cities of the Future

by Nicola McCormack

Apraksin Dvor, St. Petersburg, Russia

British architectural firm Wilkinson Eyre has come up with a way to protect St. Petersburg's crumbling historical buildings from the elements: by putting them under glass. It sounds a bit sci-fi, but this master plan will help regenerate the decaying 19th-century buildings in the Apraksin Dvor market district, turning them into shops, restaurants, and hotels, all covered by a huge crystalline glass roof. Landscaping will create an attractive city-center hangout protected from St. Petersburg's unforgiving climate, and the glass bubble will diffuse natural light into the neighborhood below without creating a burning hothouse on sunny days. The project will include a glass bridge over the Fontanka River, connecting the whole structure to the rest of the city. While the historic buildings are safe from the wrecking ball, there'll be no place for St. Petersburg's 1960s architecture in Apraskin Dvor's future—a Soviet-era publishing house will be replaced with a new building to help spruce up the neighborhood.

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