Attempts by Russian energy giant Gazprom to build a 394m-tall UK-designed skyscraper in St Petersburg are being fought every inch of the way by protesters in the city
St. Petersburg residents on Tuesday (01.09.09) clashed with police and OAO Gazprom security guards during a public hearing over the plan to erect the tallest skyscraper in Europe. Around 12 people who attended Tuesday’s meeting were removed, as calls of ‘shame on Gazprom’ rung in the air.
The Okhta Center is the work of Scottish architects RMJM and is intended to house the headquarters of Gazprom Neft, a Gazprom subsidiary.
The Okhta Public and Business Centre, the Gazprom company heading the development, says it is an ‘architectural gem’ that will give the city a modern look. However, the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural organisation claims that the centre, also known as the Gazprom Tower, would defile the city’s historic skyline.
But protesters filed a lawsuit asking the court to cancel the public hearing because it would be ‘illegal’ and that the towers would be sited too close to the 18th century Smolny Cathedral. It is not the first time objectors have run into trouble with the police over the proposed 67-storey skyscraper. In January last year ‘two activists’ were arrested after 300 protestors started a rally on the site earmarked for the tower.
Meanwhile, Unesco’s World Heritage Committee has expressed ‘grave concern’ about the building and has asked that the project be suspended.
Responding to the news, RMJM released this statement: ‘The City of St Petersburg is reviewing its rules and regulations for tall buildings.
‘This City Council Meeting was the first step towards amending its planning restrictions to allow for buildings which are over 100m in height. RMJM is assisting the City Council in going through the due process in support of the proposed amendment.’