Top Russian and European Firms Present Concept Designs for ITMO Highpark

On November 17, the first session of ITMO Highpark’s international expert council was held as part of the 7th St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum. The discussion revolved around proposed architectural and planning solutions for ITMO University’s innovative new campus in the Yuzhny satellite city, in the Pushkinsky District of St. Petersburg. Design concepts were showcased by bureaus from the UK, the Netherlands, Austria and Russia. After reviewing the proposals, the international expert council is expected to pick one that will determine the future look of ITMO Highpark.

Meeting of the ITMO Highpark international expert council

During this Saturday’s session, the international expert council, which includes renowned architects, urban scientists, and education experts, reviewed four design concepts for ITMO University’s innovative new campus in the south of St. Petersburg. The solutions were developed by the following firms:

MVRDV (The Netherlands)

MVRDV has previously worked on a number of major construction projects in the Netherlands, France, China, India, and other countries. Among their current projects are large-scale urban development projects for Bordeaux and Cannes (France) and Logroño (Spain). Its previous projects in Russia include the Zaryadye Park and the Silhouette residential building in Moscow.

Allies and Morrison (the United Kingdom)

A&M has a lot of experience with cultural, educational, public and residential projects. The highlights of their portfolio include master plans for universities and scientific centers such as Girton College (Cambridge, UK), Nalanda University (India) and others.

Meeting of the ITMO Highpark international expert council
Meeting of the ITMO Highpark international expert council

BUSarchitektur (Austria)

This architectural bureau has worked on a number of projects centered on university campuses and special-purpose buildings. This includes campus designs for the Vienna University of Economics and Business, the Medical University of Vienna, the Institute of Mathematics and the International Graduate School in Model and Simulation of the Technical University of Berlin, the campus master plan for College of Technology (Giessen, Germany), and others

KOSMOS (Russia)

Several of this Russian firm’s projects have been chosen as winners of international competitions over the years. Among their most renowned works is a concept design of the New Museum of Hans Christian Andersen in Odense, Denmark, the Nike Air Box sports center in Moscow, and the Skolkovo Seeds residential district masterplan.

“Today, we saw four very different concepts: these design firms have demonstrated different philosophies, perspectives and visions of the development of not just a university campus, but a genuine artwork, a point of attraction that will maintain its relevance. The world is becoming increasingly more global; everybody is interested in information technologies, artificial intelligence, and robotics. In the context of a digital future, ITMO University is a crucial player. For the University, this is the perfect chance to create something completely new to make use of all these trends,” said Sunand Prasad, chairman of the ITMO Highpark international expert council on masterplan development, a senior partner at the British architectural practice Penoyre & Prasad LLP, and the former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Members of the ITMO Highpark international expert council
Members of the ITMO Highpark international expert council

The development of ITMO Highpark marks one of the first instances in which world-class experts and international architectural firms are involved in the design of a Russian university campus, noted Daria Kozlova, ITMO’s First Vice Rector and member of the international expert council.

“What we’re making does not yet exist anywhere in Russia or the world. Our main task is to figure out what the university will look like in five, ten, or fifteen years and what the education of the future is going to be like. We’re not looking for today’s ideas. That’s why it’s important for us to involve international experts with vast experience who can provide a visionary approach and a vision of the future”, says Kozlova. “We’re interested in creating spaces that will facilitate interdisciplinary research and collaboration between experts of different fields. When we choose projects, we want them to reflect that idea first and foremost.”

Daria Kozlova
Daria Kozlova

At the same time, as per the project’s goals, ITMO Highpark will not only function as an innovations center and a university campus, but also the centerpiece of an entire small city (the population of Yuzhny is expected to be around 130,000 residents). Highpark will be situated between several points of attraction: the city of St. Petersburg itself and the historic town of Tsarskoe Selo. Authors of the design concepts faced a unique challenge: to take into account the specifics of this location and develop a look for St. Petersburg’s newest landmark.

As Sergey Khmelevsky, the CEO of ITMO Highpark JSC, explains, the international experts will review the proposals, submit their recommendations and choose a concept that will determine the future architectural and structural appearance of the innovations center.

Sergey Khmelevsky
Sergey Khmelevsky

The architectural firm RTDA (Moscow) will use the winning proposal to develop a general architectural plan that would account for all technical requirements, legislation and budgeting. RTDA specializes in architectural and urban planning, and complex analysis of urban development and beautification of public spaces. It has previously worked on various major projects, including the development of Imereti Lowlands for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, a development solution for a new residential district in Mumbai (India) and others.

“The companies presented varied masterplans that showcase the different approaches to urban development. We will definitely have much to discuss. One trend that was evident in all presentations is a serious approach to the design of public spaces, which we have not seen in a while. The projects included solutions that utilize the landscape, environment, and climate to create a comfortable public space. After all, that is what the university asked for: a point of attraction for citizens,” says Dina Dridze, creative director at RTDA.

Dina Dridze
Dina Dridze

An architectural plan based on the winning concept will be presented on December 19. Until then, RTDA will develop the architectural appearance and inner spaces of ITMO Highpark’s main buildings, the transport and pedestrian infrastructure and rest areas, and also integrate the project into the planned look of the neighboring areas.

ITMO Highpark is an innovations center and university campus situated in the satellite-city Yuzhny in the Pushkinsky District of St. Petersburg. An area of approximately 100 hectares will be made home to an ITMO campus, business incubators and cutting-edge production facilities, research centers, dormitories, staff housing, and educational buildings for Master’s and PhD students. It is expected that by 2027 ITMO Highpark will host 3,600 students, 12,000 employees, five cutting-edge production facilities, and some 50 international research laboratories. The city of innovations will focus on applied research and development in the fields of artificial intelligence, cyberphysical systems, photonics, quantum technologies, urban science and more.

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