Heart of the City (Kaliningrad)

The Heart of the City is a long-term project aiming at the redevelopment of the historic centre of Kaliningrad, the area surrounding the former Königsberg Castle and the House of Soviets. The project implementation unit is a Non-governmental organization Urban Planning Bureau “Heart of the City” (Russian name: Градостроительное бюро «Сердце города»), located in Kaliningrad, Russia.


The project emerged as a joint initiative of the members of the Ministry of Culture working under the leadership of the Governor of Kaliningrad Region, Nikolay Tsukanov. The Ministry of Culture under the Governor of the Kaliningrad Region is an advisory body established in 2005 designed to foster cooperation between cultural institutions, mass media, NGOs, the artistic and cultural community, and to develop proposals on different issues in the sphere of culture.[1] The project is implemented in close cooperation with the Government of Kaliningrad Region, the Kaliningrad City Administration and the Kaliningrad Regional Branch Office of the Union of Architects of Russia.[2] The Project Leader is a cultural expert, a writer and an architectural critic Alexander Popadin.[3]


Because of severe damage during the Second World War and uncompleted Soviet town planning projects, the city centre of Kaliningrad remains virtually empty and undeveloped in terms of urban infrastructure and design.[4] In 2012, after several years of public and consultations held with Russian and foreign experts, the Kaliningrad Oblast Government launched a long-term program for the systematic regeneration of the historical part of the city, known for seven centuries of history as Königsberg and which still preserves some features of its original urban fabric. To implement the project named “Heart of the City”, a “road map” was developed to cover the areas of the King’s Mountain (Korolevskaya gora), the adjacent embankment of the Pregolya River and the Lower Lake.[5]


In 2013, the Historic and cultural study of the “Heart of the City” project areas was conducted to set the basis for further activities within the project. The researchers determined the boundaries of twelve historic areas (corresponding to former Königsberg city parts), analysed their historic and cultural assets, and made recommendations for their future development. The study was presented to the local authorities and discussed with professionals and the local community on numerous occasions.[6]

In 2014, the Urban Planning Bureau “Heart of the City” organised and conducted an international architectural and urban planning competition for the Development Concept of the historic centre of Kaliningrad. The professional jury panel was represented by Bart Goldhoorn, Hans Stimmann, Barbara Engel, Rasmus Waern, Stephen Willacy, Olov Schultz, Alexander Lozhkin and Anna Brunow. The competition intended to find a new concept of the urban planning development of the area called “Korolevskaya Gora“ (Germ. Königsberg) and its surroundings (in total 56 ha). The winner emerging out of this competition was the St. Petersburg’s team of architects “Studio 44“ in partnership with St. Petersburg’s Institute of Territorial Development. The winners proposed an individual development scenario that would "take the interplay between heritage and contemporary context to a totally new level."[7] The former Altstadt would become a zone of archaeological research with a new medieval city growing on top of the ruined one. The reconstructed historic urban fabric and the strict regulations governing the height and the shape of the buildings, roof-slope angles and the use of finishing materials will generate echoes of something recognizably old-European.[8] The Kneiphof Island is proposed to remain a park with the park alleys and landscape architecture reproducing the grid of the destroyed city blocks.[9] The concept of Studio 44 became a Future Masterplanning category winner at the World Architecture Festival in 2015.[10] The second prize was awarded to the consortium of companies Devillers et Associes (France) + Off-the-grid (Moscow, Russia) + Wall (Moscow, Russia); the two third prizes were won by the British architect Trevor Skempton and the Swedish studio "Hosper Sweden" AB.[11] In 2015, the representatives of “Studio 44” and "Devillers et Associes"/"Off-The-Grid Studio" with the participation of the "Heart of the City" Bureau’s experts jointly elaborated a consolidated planning concept (a masterplan) for the development of the project area which was repeatedly discussed with local authorities, architects and the general public.[12][13]

The consolidated planning concept formed the basis for the revisions of the current urban planning documents concerning the historic centre of Kaliningrad and led to a new open international design competition “Post-castle“ that was announced in May 2015. The competition sought to find an architectural image for a Historic and cultural complex on the grounds of the former Königsberg Castle that will accommodate a multifunctional concert hall, a museum of archaeology, a museum of the King’s castle history and other functions.[14] In the final round of competition, 49 entries were submitted.[15] The first prize was awarded to a young architect from Kaliningrad Anton Sagal (currently living in Italy). His design managed to combine all the requirements and particularly impressed the jury with the quality of the draft and the idea of creating several public spaces.[16]

Current situation

At present, the competition winner has been contracted for a conceptual design of the Historic and cultural complex. The Bureau continues working closely with local authorities to ensure that the results of both competitions are incorporated in the urban planning documents for the project area. The local authorities announced plans to start archaeological excavations on the grounds of the former Königsberg Castle.[17] The construction works are planned to begin with the West Wing of the cultural complex.[18]


  1. "В Правительстве прошло первое заседание Совета по культуре при Губернаторе Калининградской области". www.gov39.ru. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  2. "About us". www.tuwangste.ru. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  3. "Resurrecting Königsberg: Russian City Looks to German Roots". SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  4. "Resurrecting Königsberg: Russian City Looks to German Roots". SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  5. "Программа по восстановлению исторического "сердца" города начинает работать". www.gov39.ru. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  6. "Калининградские эксперты высоко оценили проведенную историко-культурную экспертизу исторического центра Калининграда". www.gov39.ru. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  7. "Remaking history: how Kaliningrad's new centre will look both forward and back". The Calvert Journal. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  8. "Remaking history: how Kaliningrad's new centre will look both forward and back". The Calvert Journal. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  9. "International competition". www.tuwangste.ru. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  10. "2015 Category Winners". www.worldarchitecturefestival.com. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  11. Bustler. "The winning concepts for the city of Kaliningrad in Russia". Bustler. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  12. "Our news". www.tuwangste.ru. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  13. "Our news". www.tuwangste.ru. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  14. "Open Call: Competition Seeks Ideas for Königsberg Cultural Center". ArchDaily. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  15. "International Architectural Design Competition for a "post-castle" area in Kaliningrad | Competitions.archi". competitions.archi. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  16. https://issuu.com/antonsagal/docs/another_castle/1
  17. "Весной на месте Королевского замка в Калининграде планируется провести раскопки". www.newkaliningrad.ru. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  18. Калининград.Ru. ""Фантомные боли калининградцев": архитектор Антон Сагаль рассказал о судьбе Королевского замка". kgd.ru. Retrieved 2016-02-25.

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