Lakhta Center is a multifunctional complex in St. Petersburg with the Gazprom headquarter and public spaces occupying a third of the area. Construction was completed in October 2018, now start work on the arrangement of business and public areas. The opening will take place in about a year, when the complex will be fully prepared to meet guests.
Lakhta Center Skyscraper Continues to Surprise with its Technologies
Lakhta Center Executive Director Alexander Bobkov told “Gazeta.ru” about the inclusion of the Russian skyscraper in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, construction technologies and import substitution.
— First of all we congratulate you on the inclusion of Lakhta Center in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS. The foundation of the building was recorded namely the continuous concreting technology which has been already described to readers. What is a necessity of this technology, why you cannot do without it?
— The records were not our principal goal. The structure which was registered in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS is the result of calculations and tests and work of several design institutes and leading designers. Such structure as a box foundation on 264 piles 2m in diameter up to 85 meters deep was chosen to ensure the safety and reliability of the building weighing 670,000 tons.
The most robust bearing structure of the building foundation is a monolith reinforced concrete slab of a football field size and of the height exceeding a floor of a residential building.
Almost 20,000 m3 concrete mix from 13 concrete plants based in Saint Petersburg was poured in the foundation within 49 hour continuous concreting. More than 9,000 tons of reinforcement was supplied from rolling mills from all over the country (roughly the same amount of metal was used for the construction of the Eiffel Tower).
Dense reinforcement mesh, tailor made high strength concrete mix nce the lack of the so-called “cold joints” made our bottom slab robust enough and capable of bearing all design loads
— Does it mean that all the works which you received the award for were done using Russian materials and equipment?
— As I have said already, the reinforcement and concrete are domestic. The equipment used at this stage of works is not unique and is widely represented in our region. These are auto mixers, concrete pumps. But the technology and process management are a result of serious work done by an international team: Russian engineers, designers and builders resolved this issue together with their colleagues from Germany, Turkey and South Korea. As a result a difficult and unprecedented technological process was completed without any failures. Within two days every minute in total a few thousands of concrete auto mixers with concrete were unloaded at site and dwellers of adjoining buildings found out about the end of this “special operation” from TV programs only..
— And how do you evaluate in general the import substitution perspectives in construction especially in such large-scale project as yours. What can be replaced and what imported products are essential?
— Lakhta Center is a Russian project and its implementation somehow symbolizes opportunities and a development level of modern domestic construction and engineering industry..
Certainly we strive for maximizing substitution of imported components with domestic ones. But in the unique building to be modern and advanced for decades ahead we cannot do without world experience and best imported components.
A noticeable share of imports will still be in our project. This applies to the elements the domestic counterparts of which do not meet Project requirements: these are a part of special metal structures, glazing elements, and engineering equipment..
On the other hand, our Project with huge quantities and a high pace of construction work not only provides jobs to a significant part of the construction sector and material suppliers of the North-West region, but also creates opportunities for our subcontractors and suppliers to work out new technologies, gain experience and introduce new efficient solutions in mass construction of. The quality of services is growing due to the fact that competition intensifies among the potential partners.
— How do you manage to organize the works of such a large scale, how is the system of control over the quality of works and safety built up?
— There are no unimportant details in such large scale works. Everything is important here: from the location of the plants supplying materials to layout of traffic controllers at site for vehicle traffic management.
At the same time the work out of technology and logistics takes by far much more time than the work itself. It took a few months to prepare for the pouring of the bottom foundation slab.
There cannot be any compromises in the issues of quality and safety control for us. We require a clear and strict compliance with all standards from all the participants of the project, a multi-stage system of monitoring over the compliance with technologies and occupational safety requirements is introduced and in operation. The system of cross-check, duplicating control is provided. There are the relevant departments in the organizational charts of the Employer and the General Contractor, the General Designer provides author supervision, and an independent company is employed for building control. In addition we find ourselves in the sphere of individual control by of the federal “Rostechnadzor” Authority as a particularly complex and unique facility. There are no significant violations at our site despite the frequency, thoroughness and even partiality of the integrated inspections conducted. For us it is yet another confirmation of the fact that we have chosen the key design solutions and the main contractors in a right way, and in general our project management system is carried out properly..
— What other developments unique for Russia or perhaps for the whole world do you plan to use in the Lakhta Center construction?
— Roughlyeach element of our Complex is unique. However, the technologies used here have mostly been proven in international high-rise construction. For example, massive bored piles are often used in the foundations of skyscrapers.But our piles 2m in diameter is an absolutely unique situation. For our project a new equipment for drilling of design diameter has been tailor made by the contractor.
The building maintenance units system is absolutely unique. There are no parallel lines on the facade of the skyscraper because of the untypical shape twisting as it moves up.
It wasn’t easy for designers and engineers to design a rail system and suspended platforms for cleaning and if necessary glass repair. It is even more difficult to find a way to deal with ice generation on the spire of the Tower in our climate with high humidity and permanent temperature differences. But these problems have been resolved now and later may be included in the range of Russian unique technologies for subsequent use in new projects both in our country and abroad.
— What attention do you pay to “green” technologies in your project?
— We are working in this direction; it is not only modern, but also profitable. Now our design solutions are going through a certification procedure under LEED international environmental standard. It is extremely important as another confirmation of the high level of the building designed according to the requirements of the future. We will introduce all the “green” innovations: from "smart" lighting to a multi-stage waste disposal and sorting system. To save resources and therefore reduce the cost of subsequent operation is a no less important aspect for us.
— Are there any architectural or technical features dictated by the fact that the construction is carried out in St. Petersburg?
— Certainly. And firstly they are caused by our climatic features. Lakhta Center is the most northern building of such a height. We had to take a particularly responsible approach in relation to wind loads , a few stages of wind tunnel tests were carried out. In consideration of their results the original location of the buildings of the complex has been changed to ensure comfort of all the staff and guests at the site of the complex.
A comfortable microclimate inside the building is provided due to the use of a double skin facade which compensates for rapid temperature changes outside the building. The proximity to water is another challenge for designers and constructors. The whole construction area is protected with sheet piling, the foundation of the skyscraper is protected with a diaphragm wall at a depth of over 30 meters. Each foundation element is thoroughly water proven. Hundreds of sensors provide continuous monitoring of the reliability of the underground structures.
— Has the crisis affected the progress of Lakhta Center construction, have the completion dates been delayed, do you incur any additional costs?
— The dates of commissioning of the complex remain unchanged. It is 2018. And the pace of the construction works makes it possible for us to be confident in the feasibility of our plans.
As for the crisis, we can compare it to bad weather: it is difficult to ignore it but at the same time life does not stop here. In our case a flexible project management model which involves a continuous audit and value engineering of design solutions at all the stages allows minimizing risks. For example, additional calculations and tests have enabled us to replace expensive steel columns of the high-rise building with composite ones with a metal core and reinforced concrete environ. This solution only ensures a substantial saving of metal measured in thousands of tons and reduces construction time.
— Have the plans in relation to the use of the building been changed? How do you see its future nowadays? Will it be empty as some "Moscow City" premises?
— Our plans for the functional content of the complex also remain unchanged. The main part the offices in the Tower will be occupied by “Gazprom” group companies. Most part of the multifunctional building which area exceeds that of the Tower will be occupied by public and leisure infrastructure facilities: a children’s scientific and educational center “World of Science” to be the largest in Europe, a planetarium, exhibition areas, a transformable hall to hold various events, a cinema, health and sport centers, cafes and restaurants. The investments in creating a truly comfortable and modern territory certainly make the complex more attractive. We have no concerns that the areas will not be in demand. The intentions of the investor remain unchanged and the headquarters of the largest energy company will definitely become a magnet for associated businesses and services. .
— How to make a new district with a completely new look on the one hand blend with the existing atmosphere of St. Petersburg with a specific zest and on the other hand become functional? And how must developers look for a balance between history and a modern city?
— In our case this problem is resolved by the location. On the one hand we are located at a significant distance from the historic center, at a distance of more than 9 kilometers, which basically eliminates the danger of any influence on the protected urban panoramas. On the other hand the unique location on the coast of the Gulf of Finland dictates a necessity to create a new landmark marine façade facility of the contemporary St. Petersburg.
Nowadays tourists coming to the city of St. Petersburg by water are surprised whether the massive newly built buildings, cheerless industrial landscapes and harbor cranes are the great Petersburg referred to?
The creation of modern urban areas with a new architecture, developed business and public functions on the outskirts of the city, especially on the coast, is an urgent need nowadays.. Our complex will provide tens of thousands of new jobs, partially turn around the existing heavy traffic flows from the center and we hope very much that it will be included in the tourist itineraries as a new sight of St. Petersburg.