Last year we reported on Okhta Tower, a new super eco-skyscraper located in St. Petersburg Russia. After months of push and shove, and mixed reception, the plan for this 77-storey tower designed by RMJM has finally gotten the green light to commence construction. The twisting tower will primarily serve as the headquarters to Gazprom’s oil unit OAO Gazprom Neft, with additional spaces dedicated to a concert hall, museum, hotel and a business center. Once constructed, it will become the tallest building in Europe, and one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings in the word.
The stunning design completed by architecture firm RMJM is about as green as it is tall. Eco-conscious features are highlighted by a double glass skin, where atriums have been positioned between inner and outer walls to provide natural ventilation, interior lighting and even thermal insulation for the merciless sub-zero Russian winters. Specialized water, heating and ventilation system have also been incorporated to reduce the energy needs of the building, and numerous social spaces and green zones have been set aside for the comfort and leisure of its occupants.
However, eco-friendly or not, the height is failing to impress many residents. The 400 meter building will be set within an urban fabric of low-rise structures and in fact trump the height of the revered spire of St. Peter and Paul Cathedral threefold. This point proves to be the biggest source of severe opposition by many residents who believe that the tower will alter the historic integrity and ambience of the city. David Sarkisyan, director of the Moscow Museum of Architecture, recently expressed to Bloomberg News “This is a monstrous, barbaric decision. This tower is a symbol of political ego and people will always resent it.”
The city is also finding international resistance. St. Petersburg is currently listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, but stands to be stripped of the title if the tower is built. Nevertheless, there remain more than a handful of supporters who believe that the new tower will breathe new life into their depressed city.