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.
Performances by Teodor Currentzis and the musicAeterna orchestra from ANO Center 800
WHERE THE WAREHOUSES ARE - OR WHAT THE ARROW IS KNOWN
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.
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.
MAIN EVENT OF THE XIX CENTURY — ALL-RUSSIAN ART AND INDUSTRIAL EXHIBITION
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.
FATE OF WAREHOUSES
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
RESTORATION AND NEW POINTS OF ATTRACTION
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.
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.
WHAT CAN YOU SEE IN WAREHOUSES THIS SUMMER
- 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.