Space In Between

This photo essay was created by Hadley Green, a student in the Program for Narrative and Documentary Practice at Tufts University, which took 11 students to St. Petersburg, Russia to explore the country up-close. The stories and photographs they brought home focused on the cultural, the social, and the sense of place. The workshop was led by award-winning photographer Samuel James.

Kupchino is a suburb of St. Petersburg, Russia, thirteen miles south of the city center.  Many residents commute into St. Petersburg to work, but enjoy the cheaper rent and relative peacefulness that comes with living on the outskirts of the urban metropolis.

For many Americans, the word suburb might conjure images of single-family homes, sidewalks, and fresh air. But Kupchino is not that kind of suburb. Instead of houses, the landscape is filled with towering apartment buildings. These concrete blocks were constructed during the Soviet era, and while some residents have updated the apartments inside, the facades, worn down by time and harsh weather, remain uninspired.

Kupchino is called the “sleeping district” because many residents work and spend a lot of their time outside of the district. Yet around the corners, there are children playing and parents chatting. Down the path, there is a man smoking a cigarette and a woman walking her dog. Off the main roads, the din of the highway lessens. The concrete walls give way to leafy trees, and the outstretched roads morph into winding footpaths. Hidden behind the grey buildings, the green spaces of Kupchino offer glimpses of family life, urban beauty, and moments of respite for those willing to find them.