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MVRDV and The Why Factory participate in the exhibition SPb 2103, a group vision of St. Petersburg

MVRDV and The Why Factory participate in the exhibition SPb 2103, a group vision of St. Petersburg

In collaboration with MVRDV and The Why Factory, 25 students from five different cities across Russia gathered for a Four-Day workshop to dream up future housing visions for the city of St. Petersburg. The results of this workshop are now on view in the exhibition SPb 2103 until 15 July 2018.

The city of Saint Petersburg is more than a Unesco heritage site and has more to offer than just historic buildings. Together with the think tank The Why Factory, MVRDV collaborated with 25 students from five different cities across Russia to critically reflect on and produce visions future housing for the city of St. Petersburg, results of which are on display for the current exhibition. ‘Saint Petersburg faces intriguing challenges as the city attracts thousands of newcomers who need to be accommodated, says Winy Maas, MVRDV co-founder and Director of The Why Factory. ‘In addition, the middle class is growing and it wants better public transport and public spaces as more and more tourists discover Saint Petersburg as well.’ Maas continues,  ‘The question we asked the students is what should the city look like if you anticipate the expected growth of 50,000 new homes per year. Their visions of the future must make St. Petersburg a friendlier and more hospitable city.’

The students produced visions for the year 2103 following their participation in a four-day workshop conceiving different future scenarios for St Petersburg. The masterclass led by Maas was the conclusion of this project.


MVRDV and The Why Factory stimulated the students to think 'out of the box' with the goal to reimagine St Petersburg as a place for innovative and radical urban planning and architecture. Furthermore, students presented a myriad of innovative housing typologies resulting in five different sites in the city. In each, urban issues were addressed leading to an investigative proposal implementing better uses for the many rivers and canals of St. Petersburg. Systematically ordered in a ‘matrix’ of thoughts this brings an array of possibilities to choose from. ‘Can St. Petersburg use it to invite new visions?’ asks Winy Maas, ‘Can it make its waterfront to the sea even more apparent? Can It use its brownfields for intriguing new neighbourhoods? Can the city become even more monumental?’

SPb 2103 also includes The Why Factory’s video installation, The Future City, first presented in Eindhoven during the Dutch Design Week 2017 and Freeland, a video animation that explores the prospects of complete liberation from urban planning regulations. The models are displayed collectively alongside other future visions by international artists, architects and designers including artists Ila Beka and Louise Lemoine, architect Sergei Tchoban and bureau KOSMOS, art collective Curiosity Media Lab, 404.Zero and Stain.

The exhibition is possible through generous support from Manege Central Exhibition Hall, ITMO University and Lakhta Center and is on view until July 15 at one of the largest exhibition spaces in St. Petersburg, The Manege. SPb 2103 coincides with the 315th birthday celebration of St. Petersburg telling of its past, present and possible future. Further information can be found here.