The Museum for the Defense and Siege of Leningrad

The Museum for the Defense and Siege of Leningrad and its several components form a powerful spatial composition, connecting to the character and history of the city. The Thread of Life, the Memorial of Heroes of Leningrad and the Square of Testimony all sit against the backdrop of a newly created tranquil river side park. The project was part of an international invited competition and was the only international design to make it into the final four.

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The 'Thread of Life', an elegant white and gilded spiral stairway, rises up from the cavernous museum space three floors below ground level to burst out of a newly created hillside.

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When on the lowest level underground, on the edges of the cavernous main exhibition space, visitors can look up and see the rest of the museum complex as a vast golden cuboid floating above them. Within this are the archives, temporary exhibitions and the Memory Institute; a learning centre with reading rooms, research spaces and lecture halls.

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Next to the main museum, two memorials in the park are dedicated to individual's stories - one for the heroes of the resistance and siege, the other for the struggles of the ordinary citizens of Leningrad.

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Project Details

  • Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Year: 2017
  • Total area: 25,000m2
  • Programme: Museum, memorials, learning centre, research centre and public park
  • 01Quick Facts
    • Three primary elements make up the site, one key museum supported by two smaller memorials
    • The 'Thread of Life' elegantly spirals from the river adding a serene fragility to the city's skyline
    • Exhibition spaces and learning centres are buried within the river side, a golden cube floating in a vast cavern
    • A memorial wall commemorates the 'Heroes of Leningrad'
    • An inverted pyramid within the park provides a space for contemplation and remembrance
  • 02Full Profile

    Lahdelma & Mahalmäki Architects have unveiled Requiem, their competition proposal for the Museum for the Defense and Siege of Leningrad, St. Petersburg. The project was undertaken in partnership with Ralph Appelbaum Associates who, together, formed the only international team amongst the four final designs. The design sees an elegant spiral, buried in the landscape, reaching up from the exhibitions which are buried in a vast cavern underground. The route corkscrews out the top of the riverside, reaching outwards to give views over the new St. Petersburg.

    The Museum for the Defense and Siege of Leningrad and its several components form a powerful spatial composition, connecting to the character and history of the city. The Thread of Life, the Memorial of Heroes of Leningrad and the Square of Testimony all sit against the backdrop of a newly created tranquil river side park.

    The ‘Thread of Life’ refers to the museum and exhibition centre sunken within the banks of the river Neva. An elegant white and gilded spiral stairway rises up from the cavernous museum space three floors below ground level, up through the submerged building, to burst out of a newly created green hillside. When on the lowest level underground, on the edges of the cavernous main exhibition space, visitors can look up and see the rest of the museum complex as a vast golden cuboid floating above them. Within this are the archives, temporary exhibitions and the Memory Institute; a learning centre with reading rooms, research spaces and lecture halls.

    The Memorial of Heroes of Leningrad, next to the new museum, is a long, low wall dedicated to the heroes of the resistance and the siege. The memorial forms an axis which begins to integrate the memorial site into the existing city. The Square of Testimony, an inverted stepped pyramid, sits apart from this in the centre of the park. The square aims to give visitors a multi-sensory experience by providing a space for contemplation and meditation. Gentle sound-bites will be played, dedicated to the personal and individual testimonies of the people who lived through the siege.

    The north end of the site will be raised to tuck parking, bus stops and the road underneath it – blocking out the noise and keeping a tranquil environment within the park. Part of the park, directly above the monument, is set aside for a natural meadow of wild flowers and grasses. This park is designed with outlines for redevelopment of the surrounding areas with the aim to connect the park and museum to the city and its Neo-Classical grid. This approach helps resolve issues of connectivity and accessibility on both a city-wide and local level. These additions help turn the site into a space of significance which connects the existing history to its history, which could welcome tourists and at the same time be taken by the city inhabitants as their own.

  • 03Credits

    Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects: Ilmari Lahdelma and Rainer Mahlamäki with Jukka Savolainen, Taavi Henttonen, Shaun Leung, Klaudia Golaszewska, Kateryna Rybenchuk and Yehan Zhang

    Exhibition design: Rick Sobel, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Advisors: Markus Lähteenmäki, Anastasia Basova, Visualisation: Brick Visual, Scale Model: Seppo Rajakoski

  • 04Media Kit

    Download our Media Kit for publication material on the project, including images, drawings and texts. Downloads are password protected.

    To get the password, email jonne.ahvonen@lma.fi stating your name, organisation and reason for downloading our files.

    Terms and conditions of use are included in the Media Kit.

    Download