The on-going saga over one of St Petersburg’s most talked about landmarks, the island of New Holland, has taken a new twist. A new development project, masterminded by Dutch urban planning firm West 8, was announced last week on New Holland's Facebook page. The new plan will see further modernisation of the island site in the west of the city, with the construction of exhibition and art spaces, youth educational centres, offices, a cinema and hotel-style serviced apartments, in addition to a full-scale park area and ice rink. According to the vision of the architects, the former naval base is set to become a microcosm of a big city, with commercial infrastructure to exist alongside culture and research facilities.
The new plan is the latest in a long line of renovation projects for the island, which, after lying derelict for many years, has hosted a popular summer cultural programme since 2011, operated by Dasha Zhukova's Iris Foundation. Most famously, in 2006 an ambitious redevelopment project by celebrated British architect Norman Foster was called off; since then many projects for the historically sensitive location have been favoured and then ultimately rejected. The tender for renovating the island was awarded to New Holland Development in 2010, an affiliate of Millhouse, an asset management company owned at the time by oligarch Roman Abramovich.
The island’s renovations will be divided into a number of phases so visitors will have access to the site throughout the development. The scheduled completion date is winter 2015.