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Saint Petersburg Real Estate Market Overview
Saint Petersburg in the Late 18th Century
Urban population growth led to the partial destruction of mansions and construction of standard housing units and apartments in St. Petersburg. In the central districts, 2-3 storey houses with 1-2 storey courtyard houses (side wings) were constructed. Summer houses which had scattered central areas of the city were demolished and these areas were divided into city blocks (for example, this took place along the Fontanka River).
Most buildings built at the end of the 18th century have the following Strict-Classicism characteristics:
- Strict symmetry of the facade composition;
- Gable end (portico with columns) in the center of the facade;
- Ordered composition and moderation of decorative ornaments;
- Even proportions
Saint Petersburg in the Early 19th Century
The Empire architectural style followed Classicism as a logical continuation.
This style is characterized by constructions that are meant to inspire awe - temples, large public buildings and colossal architectural ensembles. However, the style can also be used for utilitarian building - residential real estate, industrial buildings, hospitals, schools, markets, etc.
Solid columns, monumental statues and military-like ornaments were constructed as parts of private houses, administrative buildings, schools, hospitals, etc. In the 1820-1830s, the Empire Style was still at its peak and a "decent" St Petersburg apartment building without columns was unacceptable to most planners and architects - standard houses were being built by architects who were also erecting grand cathedrals.
In 1810-1830 a new type of city building appeared in St. Petersburg - the rental house. Multi-storey blocks of flats started to appear between impressive architectural masterpieces and soon became the basis of the urban milieu.
Many buildings of this kind were constructed by V. P. Stasov - the chief architect of the Governor General of St. Petersburg. Stasov controlled the construction process on all of Vasilyevsky Island and the Admiralty Districts, from the Neva River to the Fontanka River. Stasov did not only design and organize construction, he was also in charge of making decisions regarding the construction of new building and reconstruction projects.
Construction was running at an incredible tempo during this period. In fact, to increase productivity, Stasov did not have the right to keep drawings for more than one day before passing them on for implementation. However, if he thought that corrections were necessary, he could retain the plans for "up to 3 days…and no more".
One example of rental houses built in the mature classicism style is the Kotomin House (Nevsky Prospect 18).
During the time of Peter the Great, only 2 houses were built on Nevsky Prospect - between Bolshaya Morskaya Street and the Moika Embankment. From 1812 to 1815, Stasov working under the orders of the merchant Kotomin, reconstructed both of these houses. He combined both houses into a new building. The two ground floors were joined using a Doric order: in the middle 8 columns were constructed and at the sides tetra-style balconies were built. The cornice was decorated with brackets with stucco rosettes with bas-reliefs in between.
St Petersburg in the Mid 19th Century
During the first part of the 19th century, the population of the capital doubled. Because St. Petersburg was the administrative center of the country, the city received a great influx of officials. Most of these were high positioned noblemen; various landowners who occupied official and officer positions. These noblemen brought along a great number of servants and peasants to the capital.
Because the city was an economic and industrial center, it attracted industrialists, merchants, craftsmen and an army of workers and peasants all wishing to earn a living.
By the middle of the century, the main features of the city were finally in place. A number of new streets were constructed (for example, Nadezhdinskaya, now Mayakovskaya) but these did not change the overall composition of the city. At this time, the city center began to change sharply and the city basically got a new look.
Classicism with its strict rules abandoned the city architectural repertoire. In its place, a multicoloured diversity in building took root.
Continue reading the Architectural Development of St. Petersburg by going to the next section: