While the storied Saint Petersburg building is being reconstructed, the designers saw an opportunity to turn its outdoor space into a community haunt.

Pre-revolution, the mansion was the home of Russian nobles, turned into a railway museum during the Soviet era. For the past 15 years it has sat abandoned in the centre of Saint Petersburg. Now, though, local firm DA Bureau has been commissioned to perform a major reconstruction of the building. Seeking to acquaint locals with the ‘new city cluster’ in the meanwhile, the designers envisioned the courtyard as a hospitality pop-up: the Third Place. Oysters being the draw of the menu, DA Bureau conceived a space that references France’s seaside Aquitaine region, renowned for its mollusk delicacies.

The temporary set-up accentuates the historical atmosphere surrounding the mansion while introducing modern design elements to lure in locals. Travelling through an archway on a main avenue, visitors are transported into an urban-meets-‘coastal’ refuge. It is filled with white sand and reeds imported from the Gulf of Finland and decked in raised wooden bridging. Guests enjoy meals beneath the courtyard’s arched openings, equipped with dining and lounge furniture. For the most part, the colour and material palette that the designers used in the outdoor space is natural, to match that of the ancient building. However, the team chose to cover one façade – currently being renovated – in a reflective foil curtain, to impart a festive mood along with the contemporary lighting fixtures.