Noam Hazan
Diploma 9
The Room and the City – The Hermitage V St Petersburg. 
The everyday boundaries that exist between art and the city are usually very defined. In most cities the art is contained within a room, within controlled boundaries.   

In St. Petersburg, The Hermitage museum acquires the role of the room in which Russia’s treasures are kept. But it’s exceptionally large size immediately questions its role as a room and prompts the question of is it a room within the city or a city within a room?

Feeling almost detached from St Petersburg sits 12.6 Hectares of the Hermitage Museum. The river Neva in the North and a vast area of paved plaza in the South isolates this moated entity from the rest of the city. The size of the Hermitage makes it easy to forget that the Hermitage is within St Petersburg.

Endless street-scale enfilades make up the Hermitages circulation routes. The experience of the interior spaces feel very city-like. The room (the Hermitage), in a certain way already operates as a city. The city feeling however is often interrupted at the arrival of the end of an enfilade when another enfilade immediately discovered, reminding the visitor that their journey is rigidly controlled by the architecture and curation.  The Hermitage demonstrates a very historical way of looking at art. The art is viewed in a linear process and is categorised according to artist, period of history or country of origin.  My project re-reads the city to discover new ways of experiencing art. 
From the room to city and back again. 

In the project, a relationship is forged between two entities, between the room (the Hermitage) and the city (St Petersburg), in which the room feels entirely detached. The room in this case is already an urban scale, so rather than trying to re-contextualise the city and compact it into a room I decided to fuse a relationship of the room into the city  by inverting the hermitage into St Petersburg.  From an urban interior to an interior urbanism.
By colliding the artwork with the fabric of st Petersburg,  a relationship is forced, turning an exterior into an interior. In this image, the courtyard, which is a component of the city now becomes a back drop to the art. 
The courtyards role as an exterior space is questioned.The degrees of intervention begin by  imposing the artefacts on the surface of a building.  The Hermitage gradually inserts itself into the city so that the collective minds of the city slowly begin to absorb the art into their daily life. Manipulating the fabric further, spaces are erased, enabling external walkways and corridors where the art can begin to infiltrate the city. 
Gradually parts St Petersburg is becoming interiorized, but these interventions would only exist in secluded spaces. They provide more personal experiences for the viewers and particularly those residents who overlooked the artwork, but they are still simply interior spaces within the city. The largest intervention happens when entire floors of St Petersburg are erased.  The intervention takes place entirely on the third floor. The low urban fabric of st petersburg means that an intervention on the third floor would split the city. It needed to be elevated enough from the street and creates an alternative city, one domintated by art and not commerce, one dominated by art and not traffic.  
By creating an immaterial void within the city, an interior landscape is discovered where the artwork can be exhibited. By complete contrast to the ornate, highly colourful and texturised backdrop of the Hermitage, the immaterial void distinguishes itself from the rest of the city, allowing both to be observed individually. 

It is a continuous landscape  which can is easily accessed.. The interweaving of 2 urban environments define a relationship whereby both spaces sit in contrast with the other.  
The Hermitage can be seen at the top left of the mapThis new space presents an interesting challenge for curatorial opportunities. Similarly to what Mies said about his own New National Gallery in Berlin;  “It is very difficult” he acknowledged, to do an exhibition there. No question. But a great possibility for new ways to do it”.
Detlef Mertins speaks of Mies’s ambition when designing the New National Gallery in Berlin. Similarly, he explains that the task in hand was not just to house the art of the past, but rather to support and even provoke the emergence of new ways of displaying art, perhaps even new ways of making it. The courtyard is interesting as it crates a relationship between the residents of St Petersburg and the art work, for example the woman in the apartment has constant access to some of the worlds greatest artworks.  The rereading of the Hermitage within the city has enabled experimentation towards a new environmental paradigm intended to question the way in which art is exhibited in the 21st century. 
Inverting the Room into the city not only provokes us to examine the current situation but also triggers a new debate about the relationship we have with our own art. Whether in London, NY or St Petersburg the artwork that fills our galleries are centralised and contained. Fragmenting the artwork in the city collapses the physical distance between 2 realities. The introduction of these masterpieces into daily routine will no doubt have its effects, whether it is immunity to them or inspiration from them. But whatever it may be, should they be locked in a museum where access is restricted or liberated to the city, where they can be consumed?
Robert Smithson once said “Artists themselves are not confined, but their output is” and THAT should definately be challanged. My project experiments with opportunities of intervention, social interaction and new ways of exhibiting and interacting with art. 
Layers of exhibits are overlapped with one another. Rembrandts are juxtaposed to old Arabian coins, which are juxtaposed to an oriental vase. The moment one looks at one artefact, they are automatically attracted to the next. Distributing the art into the new landscape removes any conception of hierarchy and linearity. The experience can be purely a ‘derived’ one, which is how it should be when looking at art.