LDA Design wins Kaliningrad international design competition

Water is at the heart of LDA Design’s landscape-led masterplan for Oktyabrsky Island in Kaliningrad, Russia, which has won an international competition run by Strelka KB with the support of the regional Kaliningrad government.

LDA Design’s urban design team overcame stiff challenges from four other finalists: Studio Paola Viganò from Milan; Devillers et Associés from Paris, and Stockholm’s Mandaworks and Tovatt Architects and Planners, to scoop the top prize. Twenty-eight companies from 12 countries submitted entries.

A short 10-minute walk from the city centre, Oktyabrsky Island is home to the 2018 World Cup, 35,000-seater Kaliningrad Stadium. Comprising 385 hectares of reclaimed marshland, it has been designated a special economic zone by the Russian government, to attract international investment and tourism.

The competition aimed for the whole of Kaliningrad to benefit from the design of Oktyabrsky Island. As Anton Alikhanov, Governor of Kaliningrad, emphasised in the brief, “a city is not a house-street-urban block, it is first and foremost about people”.

LDA Design worked closely with Russian architects MAP and global engineering firm WSP to develop a new urban oasis embedded within the wider city, creating a welcoming and enterprising place to live and work and delivering against LDA Design’s ‘first life’ approach.

LDA Design’s big move involved drawing water into the site through a series of waterways and improved connections to the Pregolya River, which wraps around the island. In this vision, water taxis would help reduce a reliance on cars, enabling areas of the site to be car-free. Vehicles would be parked on the outskirts of the Island, in buildings that could be repurposed to facilitate future modal shifts.

The concept plan supports Kaliningrad’s quality of life by creating clear character areas, including a world-class, car-free cultural quarter on the sunny banks of the Pergolya River for sports, arts and education. The winning plan draws on Kaliningrad’s long history. An artisan quarter captures the spirit of a historic city centre. At the heart of this quarter is a large park – a landmark water feature with a lido for summer and an ice rink in winter. The design also capitalises on natural assets: a wilder archipelago on the eastern edges of the Island puts people in touch with nature, boosting health and wellbeing. Landmark buildings are dotted throughout to create footfall across the Island.

Commenting on the win, LDA Design’s Mark Williams, Director, Urban Design, said: “We are delighted to have been selected from such strong international competition, and are excited about collaborating with all stakeholders to realise our vision for Oktyabrsky Island. “The site presents an extraordinary opportunity to create a new piece of city that delivers a world-class cultural destination for Kaliningrad. Our concept embraces the natural beauty of the Pergolya River and intuitively draws these qualities deep into the site in a new model for city living that supports healthier and happier lifestyles.”

LDA Design’s masterplan will be further developed and is expected to complete by January 2019.