Romantic yet practical
Sergey Alexandrovich Trofimov
Renowned for its wealth of history and splendid scenery, St. Petersburg is Russia’s cultural capital and at the same time an important commercial crossroads through which a third of all Russian exports flow. Alongside the headquarters of major international banks and companies, the city is also home to the large Lenexpo exhibition complex operated by Expoforum International. The only specialised exhibition centre in the northwest of Russia, the complex was built in stages from 1968 onwards in an area overlooking the Gulf of Finland. But along with the historic Lenexpo complex, Expoforum International now also operates the imposing new Expoforum Convention and Exhibition Centre in the Pulkovo district, officially inaugurated in October 2014 and consisting of three large pavilions, a multifunctional gallery and a conference hall with a total floor space of about 34,000 square metres. The visual and architectural concept proposed for the complex by the architects from the practice Trifimov focused on clarity and simplicity, opting for a series of simple rectangular shapes and a balance between glossy and matt surfaces. The main connecting space in the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Centre is the 500-metre-long multifunctional gallery which extends between the pavilions and has a total floor space of 7,500 square metres. The brightly lit gallery is covered by a sinuously curving roof which appears to accompany visitors as they walk. Natural light floods into the gallery through the long transparent façade and the skylights and is complemented by an LED lighting system set into the ceiling. The three neutral colours chosen for the gallery, white, dark grey and black, help visitors orient themselves amongst the confusion of signs, sounds and products that jostle for their attention in the exhibition spaces. The dominant materials are metal, glass and ceramics, composed according to a visual layout that reflects the identity of spaces, pathways and functions. The columns supporting the exterior structural glass façade accompany the horizontal flow of visitors and dialogue with the vertical black laminate partitions of the internal façades, beyond which the ground-floor exhibition spaces and the upper-floor offices, conference halls and meeting rooms can be seen. The aesthetics of this upper floor, overlooking the gallery, are defined by the glossy finish of the panels which at the same time help maintain visual privacy and reflect the light of the gallery. The play of colours and the glossy-matt finish of the façades is intentionally counterbalanced by the floor coverings, in particular the 40,000 square metres of porcelain tiles from Caesar that were chosen to pave all the ground-floor public spaces. A total of seven collections were used. The pale-coloured natural stone look tiles from the Absolute collection were chosen for the visually-striking gallery space, intersected and delimited by lines from the Tinte Unite collection in a Pure Black colour. For the floor coverings in the other ground floor spaces, the conference centre, the press and media centre, the restaurant, the children’s play area and the bathrooms, the architects chose tiles ranging from the minimal look of More to the essential concrete effect of Gate, from the marbled veins of Tecnolito to the high gloss of Flair.7 and the artisanal oak effect of Root.
Caesar: Absolute, Tinte Unite, Flair.7, Gate, More, Tecnolito, Root
75x75, 75x150, 60x60, 60x120, 30x60, 45x45, 11,7x60
Gate: Licorice, Breath, Broadway, Greige; Downtown, Jet Black; Absolute: Beola Bianca; More: Manhattan, Empire, Lux; Flair.7: Intense.2, Joy.4; Charme.5; Casual.7
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,5 %
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 145 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): >=47 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): Beola Bianca R11A+B; Flair.7 R9; Gate R9 matt; More R9 matt.
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant