- Architect In Charge:Sergei Tchoban, Architekt BDA
- Project Leader:Frederik-Sebastian Scholz (Leto), Pavel Zemskov (Osen, Zima), Valeria Kashirina (art direction façades)
- Design Team:Silvia Grischkat, Rene Hoch, Eugen Pfeil
- Façade And Interior Cladding:Panorama, St. Petersburg (Leto); Glaskek, St. Petersburg (Osen, Zima)
- Digital Glass Print:Okalux GmbH, Marktheidenfeld (Leto); OOO Akma, St. Petersburg (Osen, Zima)
- City:Saint Petersburg
Text description provided by the architects. The three glass buildings of the Seasons Ensemble, a new office complex in the St. Petersburg district of Kalininsky are situated on a plot with vibrant history. The area on the eastern banks of the Neva River opposite the famous Smolny Institute used to be a tree nursery before it was transformed into a spacious landscaped park for the palais of the Kushelev Bezberodko family at the end of the 18th century. The place became a venue for social events of vital prominence. However, at the end of the 19th century the family abandoned the estate, and it was turned into a nursing home by the Society of the Elizabeth Sisters, while the property itself was divided.
At that time Russian painter and art theorist Alexandre Benois stayed in the neighboring Polyustrovsky spa and summer resort forming and promoting his Mir Iskusstva art movement. During the Soviet period the Rossiya engine factory took over large parts of the area as industrial premises establishing production facilities, warehouses and administration buildings. The former picturesque garden was lost. After the fall of communism the factory was closed down, and the buildings – some of them even unfinished – fell prey to decay.
The master plan for the area came off as the winning entry of an urban planning competition suggesting office and commercial buildings of different dimensions. The area is defined by the Sverdlovskaya Embankment at the Neva River to the south, two rows of pavilions of the nursing home in the former Kushelev-Bezberodko palais to the west, another development on the premises of the former spa at the Polyustrovsky ponds in the north and north-west, and by Piskarevsky Prospectin the east. In its main axis the plan is geared towards the dome of the Smolny Cathedral, with the southern and eastern borderlines largely closed and different groups of constructions in the inner zone.
The Seasons Ensemble is located in the western area adjacent to the offshoots of the Polyustrovsky ponds. It encloses a new rectangular plaza opening to the backroad of Zhukova Ulitsa. The design of the fully glazed, printed facades shows floral motifs, reminiscent of the former park on the site, and varies the theme of three seasons. An unfinished industrial structure from Soviet times supplied the basis for the western structure. Extended with two new floors and glazed with printed leaves and floral motifs in bright green and yellow the new glass building reminds of the summer, called Leto in Russian.
Towards the pond on the rear the Leto Business Center opens with a broad conservatory on the ground floor. The Osen business center on the opposite, named after the Russian word for autumn, is an all-new construction showing autumnal leaf motifs in orange tones. And towards the south the Zima Business Center completes the plaza with printed winter motifs and a central historicizing portico with six Corinthian columns, lion corbels and arched interstices formed by pine green in shades of light gray and bluish black. The printed glass volumes grant their users picturesque framed views through the foliage. And even the fully printed areas create various effects and an intriguing atmosphere inside, depending on the different light conditions over the course of the day.
From the outside the hollowness of the three volumes slackens off in bright sunshine bringing the simple shape, the scale and the dimensions of the patterned blocks into focus. Whereas by dusk and at night or especially in foggy weather, or the Petersburg-specific gloomy times around the solstice, the artificial interior lighting literally deconstructs the buildings with the large-format designs in innumerable surfaces of various positions, colored layers and different depths, giving an almost surreal impression. The interior reception areas of the office buildings are also clad with glass panels resuming the outside patterns of the façades or taking on their respective main color.