Where to go, what to see: the history of the restoration of Warehouses on Strelka in Nizhny Novgorod




cul­tur­al space


Nizhny Novgorod

st. Arrow, 21B


Last year, Nizh­ny Nov­gorod cel­e­brat­ed its 800th anniver­sary. In the city at the con­flu­ence of the Oka and the Vol­ga, white-stone cham­bers and mer­chants’ man­sions of the 19th cen­tu­ry coex­ist with tem­ples and mon­u­ments of wood­en archi­tec­ture. Many of them — about 100 cul­tur­al her­itage sites — have been trans­formed thanks to a large-scale infra­struc­ture pro­gram. Ware­hous­es on Strel­ka are just such an object. In the past — pavil­ions of the 19th cen­tu­ry art and indus­tri­al exhi­bi­tion and ware­hous­es in the riv­er port, now — a con­cert and exhi­bi­tion hall. Few peo­ple believed that the open­work struc­tures could be saved from demo­li­tion, even few­er believed that the area around would come to life. But on June 1, Strauss and Tchaikovsky played in the Ware­hous­es — Theodor Cur­rentzis con­duct­ed the musi­cAeter­na orches­tra. The Con­cert Ware­house is open.

Where to go, what to see: the history of the restoration of Warehouses on Strelka in Nizhny Novgorod (photo 5)
Where to go, what to see: the history of the restoration of Warehouses on Strelka in Nizhny Novgorod (photo 6)

Per­for­mances by Teodor Cur­rentzis and the musi­cAeter­na orches­tra from ANO Cen­ter 800


The arrow is one of the main sym­bols of the city. Here the Oka and Vol­ga merge, and the sharp wedge of the shore itself resem­bles a fired arrow. 200 years ago, Strel­ka was the epi­cen­ter of vibrant city life — thanks to the famous Nizh­ny Nov­gorod Fair. The mari­nas dur­ing the nav­i­ga­tion peri­od looked like an anthill — wood­en ware­hous­es, huge bales of goods and con­stant­ly scur­ry­ing between mer­chants, clerks, load­ers and barge haulers. Some­times five or six barges lined up one after the oth­er wait­ing to be unloaded. Grad­u­al­ly, the area around the piers was trans­formed: wood­en build­ings were replaced by stone ware­hous­es and ship­ping offices.

In the 19th cen­tu­ry, Nizh­ny Nov­gorod was the largest trad­ing cen­ter of the Russ­ian Empire, from where goods left all over the world. It was then that the city received the unspo­ken title of the “pock­et of Rus­sia”, and Strel­ka was con­sid­ered a tourist brand. For exam­ple, the writer Alexan­der Dumas (father) came to Nizh­ny specif­i­cal­ly for her inspec­tion.

For more than 80 years it was closed to peo­ple — there was a car­go riv­er port. For the World Cup, they decid­ed to build a sta­di­um near­by, and recon­struct the ter­ri­to­ry itself.

Where to go, what to see: the history of the restoration of Warehouses on Strelka in Nizhny Novgorod (photo 7)

In 2015, dur­ing the demo­li­tion of the port build­ings, city defend­ers dis­cov­ered unique objects on Strel­ka. Inside the shab­by brick walls — open­work struc­tures — part of the main exhi­bi­tion pavil­ion of the All-Russ­ian Exhi­bi­tions of 1882 in Moscow and 1896 in Nizh­ny Nov­gorod. The archi­tect Denis Plekhanov was the first to draw atten­tion to the con­tra­dic­tion between the form and con­tent of ware­hous­es. Accord­ing to him, the design of the struc­tures, the mate­r­i­al and man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­o­gy (riv­et­ed joints) allowed him to attribute the load-bear­ing frame to the sec­ond half of the 19th cen­tu­ry. It was at that time that build­ings with met­al struc­tures became very pop­u­lar and sym­bol­ized the tech­no­log­i­cal progress of the “age of steam and iron”.

Anoth­er sig­nif­i­cant object on the Strel­ka is the fair fil­ter sta­tion, adapt­ed for the port’s office space. The build­ing of the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry was in a deplorable state, but by the anniver­sary of the city, the his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ment was returned to its orig­i­nal appear­ance.


In 1896, the 16th All-Russ­ian Art and Indus­tri­al Exhi­bi­tion was held in Nizh­ny Nov­gorod — it demon­strat­ed the tech­ni­cal and intel­lec­tu­al pow­er of the empire. Short­ly after the open­ing of the “great exhi­bi­tion”, as con­tem­po­raries called it, the new­ly crowned Emper­or Nicholas II and his wife vis­it­ed. The exhi­bi­tion was doc­u­ment­ed by the famous Nizh­ny Nov­gorod pho­tog­ra­ph­er Max­im Dmitriev.

The exhi­bi­tion is spread over about 80 hectares. The pavil­ions were erect­ed in a vacant lot behind the Kunavin­skaya Slo­bo­da, not far from the rail­way (today this place is a park named after the First of May). A total of 172 pavil­ions were built, the best archi­tects and artists of the coun­try par­tic­i­pat­ed in their cre­ation — includ­ing Vladimir Shukhov, he designed eight pavil­ions. It would take at least a week to see every­thing. A cir­cu­lar elec­tric rail­way oper­at­ed on the ter­ri­to­ry of the exhi­bi­tion (elec­tric­i­ty was still con­sid­ered a fash­ion­able nov­el­ty at that time). By the open­ing, the first tram in Rus­sia was launched, as well as funic­u­lars — lifts that deliv­ered pas­sen­gers from the low­er part of the city to the upper one.

The only build­ing that was not built from scratch was its cen­tral pavil­ion. The rea­son for this is sim­ple — finan­cial sav­ings. The struc­tures were trans­port­ed by riv­er from Moscow, where they served as the main plat­form at the pre­vi­ous exhi­bi­tion in 1882.


After the end of the Exhi­bi­tion, the pavil­ions were dis­man­tled, trans­port­ed to dif­fer­ent cities of Rus­sia or sold to pri­vate buy­ers for reuse. Sev­er­al parts of the Main Exhi­bi­tion Pavil­ion were pur­chased by the Nadezh­da insur­ance com­pa­ny and installed on the Siber­ian pier, clos­er to the water. So open­work designs found a sec­ond life — they began to per­form house­hold func­tions.

In 2015, thanks to the ini­tia­tive and activ­i­ty of the Open Strel­ka pub­lic asso­ci­a­tion, met­al struc­tures were saved from demo­li­tion, prov­ing their val­ue. Then they decid­ed to inte­grate the ware­hous­es into the ren­o­vat­ed ter­ri­to­ry of the Strel­ka art park. The land­scap­ing con­cept was devel­oped by the Insti­tute for the Devel­op­ment of the Urban Envi­ron­ment of the Nizh­ny Nov­gorod Region in col­lab­o­ra­tion with stu­dents from the Nizh­ny Nov­gorod Uni­ver­si­ty of Archi­tec­ture and Civ­il Engi­neer­ing.

head of the Open Strel­ka project group

The pecu­liar­i­ty of sav­ing the Nizh­ny Nov­gorod valu­able object on the Strel­ka is that active cit­i­zens were able to accu­mu­late their per­son­al sym­pa­thies and opin­ions into expert opin­ions. It was impor­tant to bring this sto­ry imme­di­ate­ly out of the class­rooms, from a nar­row cir­cle into the open space of pub­lic dis­cus­sion. The com­bined efforts of dif­fer­ent par­ties led to the recog­ni­tion of met­al struc­tures as an object of cul­tur­al her­itage. This ter­ri­to­ry is unique on a glob­al scale — there is no oth­er like it. Now it is avail­able, open. Pri­or­i­ty is giv­en to cul­ture, which increas­es Nizh­ny Nov­gorod’s chances to even­tu­al­ly achieve the sta­tus of a cul­tur­al land­scape — as part of the World Her­itage Site


In 2019, the first major events took place in the space of the Ware­hous­es: the INTERVALS audio­vi­su­al art fes­ti­val, the Strel­ka Inter­na­tion­al Arts Fes­ti­val, as well as the pre­sen­ta­tion of the Inno­va­tion State Prize in the field of con­tem­po­rary art.

In 2020, work was car­ried out to pre­serve a cul­tur­al her­itage site of region­al sig­nif­i­cance. “Steel lace” was cleaned of old lay­ers of paint and dust. In order not to dam­age the sur­face, spe­cial high-pres­sure sand­blasters were used.

Then the struc­tures were cov­ered with three lay­ers of var­nish and frost-resis­tant paint to pro­tect the met­al.

The col­or was brought clos­er to the nat­ur­al shade of the dark met­al of pre-rev­o­lu­tion­ary designs. It was rec­om­mend­ed by experts: archi­tects, his­to­ri­ans, restora­tion spe­cial­ists.

Where to go, what to see: the history of the restoration of Warehouses on Strelka in Nizhny Novgorod (photo 8)
Where to go, what to see: the history of the restoration of Warehouses on Strelka in Nizhny Novgorod (photo 9)

pho­to: Dima Four

The design of the con­cert hall and the gallery was thought out by the archi­tec­tur­al bureau “SPICH” under the direc­tion of Sergey Tchoban. He also designed the Russ­ian pavil­ion at the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, the Her­mitage branch on the ter­ri­to­ry of the for­mer ZIL plant and the Fed­er­a­tion Tow­er in Moscow City.

Inside, as if in a pen­cil case, the archi­tects insert­ed light-weight non-per­ma­nent met­al struc­tures sheathed with mir­ror glass in order to pre­serve and show the “steel lace”.

Acoustic Group was respon­si­ble for the sound in the hall for 426 seats: among their projects are the Bol­shoi The­ater, the Helikon-Opera The­ater and the State Krem­lin Hall.

But the main fea­ture is the large panoram­ic win­dows behind the stage. If nec­es­sary, you can close it and cre­ate a dif­fer­ent back­ground. There are no such the­aters with a glass facade any­where else.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter of the Nizh­ny Nov­gorod Region, Min­is­ter of Cul­ture of the Region

2019 was the first attempt to launch cul­ture on Strel­ka. See — how will she get accus­tomed here? The exper­i­ment turned out to be suc­cess­ful and we decid­ed to move on, to make full-fledged mul­ti­func­tion­al cul­tur­al spaces in ware­hous­es. The con­cert hall is suit­able for var­i­ous types of con­cert activ­i­ties, as well as the­atri­cal per­for­mances. The exhi­bi­tion ware­house is also made accord­ing to the prin­ci­ple of a trans­form­ing space, which opens up many oppor­tu­ni­ties for con­tem­po­rary art expo­si­tions.


  • Opera “Orpheus and Eury­dice” by Christoph Willibald Gluck (June 23–26).
  • Media per­for­mance “Laugh­ter at Ophe­li­a’s Eat­en Heart” (in August).
  • Strel­ka Arts Fes­ti­val (August 25–28).
  • Exhi­bi­tion of con­tem­po­rary mez­zotint engrav­ings (July-August).
  • Music fes­ti­val at the Alexan­der Nevsky Cathe­dral (July 30).
  • Until July 3, the exhi­bi­tion ware­house is open for vis­it­ing the exhi­bi­tion “Assem­bly Point”, ded­i­cat­ed to the his­to­ry and revival of Ware­hous­es.

More infor­ma­tion about all the events and con­di­tions of vis­it­ing, includ­ing the pur­chase of tick­ets, can be found on the offi­cial web­site of the Ware­hous­es. The full list of events has already been pub­lished on the offi­cial web­site of Nizh­ny 800.


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