ICOMOS expert opinion is needed


Dear colleagues,

Currently, the idea of building a bell tower on the territory of one of the main ensembles of the city, the Smolny Monastery, is being promoted in St. Petersburg. The main ideologues of the project are «The Foundation for assistance to the restoration of historical and cultural objects in St. Petersburg», which is closely associated with Gazprom (based on the results of journalistic investigations), and the architect, ICOMOS member Raphael Dayanov. Representatives of the scientific and architectural community, including members of the Architectural and urban planning and Monitoring sections of the ICOMOS of Saint Petersburg, are against it.

The monastery was designed and built in the middle of the XVIII century by the order of the Empress Elizabeth by the architect B. F. Rastrelli. However, the projected bell tower was built only to the level of the cornice of the 1st tier, and then dismantled. The current composition of the western facade of the monastery was completed in the 1830s by order of Nicholas I by the architect V. Stasov. In this form, the monastery has survived to our time, in this form it was placed under state protection and included in the World Heritage List as an ensemble that is part of the «Historical Center of St. Petersburg» component of object №540 «Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments».

Today, «The Foundation for assistance to the restoration of historical and cultural objects in St. Petersburg» declares its desire to build a structure that never existed. If the bell tower to be built, it will exceed the height of the main historical landmarks of the city – the Peter and Paul Cathedral in the fortress of the same name and, along with the already erected Gazprom skyscraper (Lakhta center), will actively enter the city panoramas as a competitor to the historical verticals-the Peter and Paul Cathedral and St. Isaac's cathedrals, the Admiralty tower, the Smolny Cathedral itself.

The bell tower will radically change the scale of the Smolny monastery ensemble and the proportions of the surrounding space, significantly reducing the significance of the Cathedral. Combined with buildings built in the 1830s, it will form an architectural situation that never existed. The same thing will happen on the scale of the city that will become the «other» St. Petersburg. The historical value of both the monastery and the city as a whole will suffer significantly.

I ask you to express your professional opinion on the possibility of building a bell tower according to Rastrelli's project in our time.

Sergey Gorbatenko, expert-member of ICOMOS CIVVIH

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