On RMJM, or the fall of gods

The monstrous project of building a 403 meters skyscraper in the centre of St. Petersburg, Russia, has been dismissed by a presidential ukaz. According to Guardian, company in charge of realizing the Okhta Centre, the Scotland-based multinational RMJM, is sailing in troubled waters. Newspaper points out the relation of this company with fake financial economy and its crisis. As news dates back to one month ago, one may wonder what a relation between Medvedev’s decision to stop the project in St. Petersburg (excellent political choice indeed in front of Russian and international public, and a real image plus) and RMJM business decline.

Anyway, Russia’s president decision to match protests against the tower held by population, intellectuals, and the very UNESCO (who threatened to cancel St. Petersburg from the list of World Heritage), is an important signal for all the other Countries where skyscrapers building is on the way. ’80 and ’90 keynesian-like investment for enormously expensive and energivorous towers, imposing hyper- and finally anti-human geometry over the cities (Baudrillard would have spoke about Political Economy of the Sign), is not but the dangerous tail of global financial crisis, the latter instrument of financial power to abuse politics inside the very space of communities. It’s not a secret that huge and useless buildings, far from being just a crazy play, are nothing but “power laundering”, realized by wasting money, environment, and society.

Scholars belonging to New Urbanism, Gruppo Salingaros, and the International Society of Biourbanism, warned against this kind of buildings with several studies and writings, from a scientific point of view. Vain, huge towers, like every out-of-human-scale gigantic architecture, affect not only economics in a very harmful way (as one can see in Dubai and in Greece), but society as such, its health, and its very political freedom. There’s a reason to rejoice, together with St. Petersburg’s people and the most important Russian intellectuals, at the decision of halting the Okhta Centre construction, and to wish Russian leadership accountability about this sensitive matter to be followed by other leaders in the World.

Stefano Serafini, Research director. International Society of