Exhibition of projects of new Mariinsky Theatre's building opens in Petersburg

The Mariinsky II exposition at the St. Petersburg Arts Academy features 11 projects of the new building of the Mariinsky Theatre presented to the international architectural contest.

The contest was organised by the Russian Culture Ministry in January 2003 as part of the programme of the theatre's restoration, reconstruction and development. Leaders of the modern world architecture, 5 Russian and 6 foreign architectural studios, were invited to take part in the contest.

Studios of foreign architects Mario Botta (Switzerland), Arata Isozaki (Japan), Eric Owen Moss (USA), Dominique Perrault (France), Hans Hollein (Austria) and Erik van Egeraat (Netherlands) participate in the project. Andrei Bokov, Oleg Romanov, Alexander Skokan, Yuri Zemtsov and Mikhail Kondiain represent the Russian team.

The participants were given four months to create a design-project of the new building of the Mariinsky Theatre with a total area of 39,000 square metres and an auditorium for 2,000 seats. Architects had to solve a difficult problem - to provide conceptual and technological unity of the old and new buildings of the theatre.

According to Russian Deputy Culture Minister Vladimir Malyshev, the exhibition of the project is the most important event in St. Petersburg after the tercentenary celebrations. Such contests have not been held in Russia for many years.

According to chief architect of St. Petersburg Oleg Kharchenko, "the idea of the contest has justified itself: we have much to discuss and to choose from." All projects are individual and it will be hard to choose the winner, he added.

According to art director of the Mariinsky State Academic Theatre Valery Gergiyev, the exposition features no traditional projects, all of them are modern and meet the spirit of the times. Gergiyev said that he "would not be surprised if a Russian project wins as Russia has no less talented people than other countries." Not only actors and the city but also the country will benefit by the building of the new theatre, he added. The new building will decorate the city and will give the Mariinsky Theatre an opportunity to give four performances a day, Gergiyev stressed.

The projects will be available to the public for two weeks and a half. Visitors can express their opinions in the special book and the jury will take them into account. The jury will sum up the results after the exposition and the winner will be named on June 28.

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