Go east: St Petersburg’s New Holland Island is about to open to the public

Go east: St Petersburg’s New Holland Island is about to open to the public

Since the New Holland Island’s acquisition by the country’s Naval forces shortly after its creation, this eight-hectare urban island in St Petersburg has been largely off limits to the general public, mostly visible from the outside through the openings on its exterior walls. However, now the island is set to fully reopen for the first time in its history.

Equipped with a new master plan, come August 2016, Dutch landscaping and urban design firm West 8 will oversee the island’s transformation into St Petersburg’s newest cultural epicentre, providing a designated space to celebrate the arts, culture, and events.

This historic triangular, man-made island was created in 1719 by the addition of the Kryukov and Admiralty canals, which connected the Moika River with the Neva. Its name was inspired by its resemblance to Amsterdam. Reopened to visitors briefly in 2011, over three seasons the island accommodated more than 900 events, attracting an impressive 760,000 visitors.

Now with the addition of a series of temporary pavilions constructed from metal, wood and concrete, the New Holland Island will once again open its grounds to the general public. A series of historical buildings – namely the former blacksmith’s building, (the foundry) the administrative building, (the commandant’s house) and the old naval prison – will be given a new lease of life, undergoing a comprehensive restoration and contemporary outfitting.

The rejuvenated complex and temporary pavilions will host facilities, such as a playground modeled after the historical Russian frigate ship ’Petr and Pavel’, a communal herb garden, information centre, stages, restrooms, kiosks and entrance.

Even though the full restoration of the complex won’t reach completion before 2025, the island will now be accessible throughout the whole year. Within the winter months, the central lawn will be replaced by an ice skating rink with a natural ice surface, accompanied with music, lighting and its own seasonal program of events. 

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