Winy Maas is one of architecture’s most aggressive researchers. Through his office MVRDV and affiliations with universities in Europe and America, Maas produces a seemingly unstoppable stream of insights into the environments in which architects now operate. As an advisor to the educational program of the Strelka Institute in Moscow, the architect is currently contributing to the production of eleven radical visions of the future, based on extrapolating trends that shape contemporary life, in Russia and around the world. Maas recently sat with writer, curator, and Strelka faculty member Brendan McGetrick to discuss his unusual educational trajectory, learning from the conservationist Richard Leakey, facing death in Sudan, and the beauty of architects experimenting with algae.
In an article for The Guardian, Maryam Omidi explores Moscow’s Door19, a place where “Damien Hirst and David LaChapelle artworks adorn the raw concrete walls,” “flair bartenders serve up gem-coloured cocktails,” and “a rotation of Michelin-starred chefs flown in from around the world curate new menus each week.” It is indicative, she argues, of what Kuba Snopek (a lecturer at the Strelka Institute) describes as “hipster Stalinism” – a surge of redevelopment in certain parts of Moscow that cater to the ‘oligarchs’, wealthy creatives and Muscovite ‘hipsters’. At Door19, for example, apartments sell for between $15,000 and $20,000 per square metre.
“Cyberspace, filled with bugs and glitches – the components of its natural habitat – will form a completely new and previously unknown location when released into a real city – Cybertopia,” says Egor Orlov, a current student at the Strelka Institute in Moscow. According to Orlov, the physical world is on the brink of a major technological breakthrough that will revolutionize the way architects conceive of space – closing the gap between analog and digital.
Cybertopia - completed while he was a student at the Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering under tutors Akhtiamov I.I. and Akhtiamova R.H. and nominated for the Archiprix Madrid 2015 - exists as another dimension for Orlov, where fairy tales come to life and science harmonizes with engineering and architectural design. “Future of an Architecture Space. Cybertopia. Death of Analogous Cities,” delves into a fantasy world where the “possibility to fly or walk from one planet to another” becomes an illustrated reality using a combination of drafting-based techniques and a wild imagination.
Enter the hybrid technological-analog world of Cybertopia after the break
SVESMI, an unassuming studio based in central Rotterdam, is at the center of a dauntingly complex project that may eventually see the renovation of 448 dilapidated and disused branch libraries in Moscow. Architects Anastassia Smirnova and Alexander Sverdlov balance their time between Rotterdam, which acts as their design studio, and Moscow from which, alongside architects Maria Kataryan and Pavel Rueda, they oversee the project at large. Faced by the potential challenge of reimagining over 450 public ‘living rooms’ spread across the Russian capital and demanding unusually high levels of spatial articulation and social understanding, the Open Library project is also unwinding the hidden narrative of Moscow’s local libraries.
Dutch architect Winy Maas has been selected as the curator for the Strelka Institute’s 2014-2015 academic year. One of the co-founders of Rotterdam-based firm MVRDV, Maas also lectures and teaches all over the world, most recently serving as a visiting professor of architectural design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as a professor of architecture and urban design at Delft University of Technology.
Over the course of nine months, graduate students at the Strelka Institute studied the urban landscape of Moscow and the daily routines of its inhabitants, focusing “on new, little-noticed, and as-yet unresolved contradictions.” The main goal of the projects was to come up with solutions that could be applied in practice.
The research projects, collectively entitled “Urban Routines,” were presented at the end of this past June at the graduate show. Program director David Erixon said that while the theme might seem naive, “when you start looking at seemingly trivial things in a new way they are not so trivial anymore.” For details about the individual research projects – covering Cars, Retail, Dwelling, Offices, and Links - keep reading after the break.
With applications closing on the 26th of July, those wishing to apply to the prestigious Strelka Institute in Moscow need to act fast. The Strelka Institute is a non-governmental research institute with a particular focus on the City, using multidisciplinary techniques from fields as varied as sociology, economics, architecture, political and cultural studies. Since 2012, Strelka has been among DOMUS Magazine’s top 100 European Schools of Design and Architecture.
Successful applicants will study at the Strelka institute for free, with each student receiving a monthly scholarship to focus on their studies.
More after the break
What can you do with a business district that has an office vacancy rate of 40%, is completely separated from its surroundings and is facing increasing competition from business centers emerging throughout the city? These are questions that are increasingly being asked about Moscow‘s International Business District, the symbol of capitalism that was planned in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union, yet is still under construction today.
Eduardo Cassina and Liva Dudareva, founders of METASITU and researchers at the Strelka Institute, have proposed a provocative idea in response to this dilemma: envisaging the business district’s future in 2041, they imagine a scenario where the district is linked by underground metro to Sheremetyevo And Domodedovo airports in the North and South – forming the world’s first mega-airport, and the first one where it is possible to live in the terminal building without ever leaving.
Read on after the break for more explanation of idea
Russian city dwellers live their daily lives, drive cars on busy streets, sit in front of computers in offices, buy groceries and other goods in supermarkets and shops, bring up their children and watch television at home. This decidedly typical Lebenswelt, routine, everyday, the gigantic and complex world of the ordinary, is under-researched and poorly analysed. The theme for Strelka’s 2013-2014 research school year is Urban Routines.
Student research, public lectures, and talks on Urban Routines constitute an attempt to figure out what the everyday life of Russian cities is made of.
What Moscow Can Learn from Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam, & London: A New Series from the Strelka Institute & Fundació Mies van der Rohe
The Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in partnership with the Fundació Mies van der Rohe have launched an exciting program of discussions and workshops titled: «Rethinking Europe – European experience in the city development»
The series, which, as part of the Strelka Institute’s summer program, will run from the June 30 to July 29, invites representatives from the architectural and urban planning communities of Europe’s four largest cities – Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona, and London – to discuss how their city’s approaches to urban development could be applied to urban territories in Moscow. Learn more about this fantastic series, after the break.
The Russian Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale is selling the most important architectural ideas from Russia. Curators Anton Kalgaev, Brendan Mcgetrick, and Daria Paramonova selected twenty ideas that offer solutions to contemporary architectural issues and designed the pavilion as a commercial fair. It’s even got generic furniture and salespeople manning the booths.
They talked to us about their project Fair Enough and why their contribution to the Biennale is a market where Russia’s originally socialist ideas are sold as updated “products.”
Check out the full curatorial statement, flip through the 160-page pavilion catalog, and see a full gallery of images after the break.
The following are excerpts from one of 41 interviews that student researchers at the Strelka Institute are publishing as part of the Future Urbanism Project. In this interview, James Schrader speaks with Adam Snow Frampton, the co-author of Cities Without Ground and the Principal of Only If, a New York City-based practice for architecture and urbanism. They discuss his work with OMA, the difference between Western and Asian cities, his experiences opening a new firm in New York, and the future of design on an urban scale.
James Schrader: Before we get to future urbanism, I thought it would be interesting to look a bit into your past. Could you tell me about where your interest in cities came from? Were there any formative moments that led to your fascination with cities?
Adam Snow Frampton: I was always interested in cities, but not necessarily exposed to much planning at school. When I went to work at OMA Rotterdam, I was engaged in a lot of large-scale projects, mostly in the Middle East and increasingly in Asia, where there was an opportunity to plan cities at a bigger scale. In the Netherlands, there’s not necessarily more construction than in the US, but there is a tradition of thinking big and a tendency to plan. For instance, many Dutch design offices like OMA, West 8, and MVRDV have done master plans for the whole country.
A collection of 41 interviews conducted by students at the Strelka Institute, entitled Future Urbanism, is now available online. The interviews feature architects, urban planners, sociologists, researchers, and other professionals from fields related to urban studies, emphasizing the Strelka Institute’s mandate for interdisciplinary thinking. To take a look at the interviews, see here.
The Strelka Institute, Moscow’s most innovative school for architecture and urbanism, “might be soon forced to leave its current venue in the heart of the Russian capital” due to proposed redevelopment of the area. Faced by the threat of this possibility, the school formed a competition in order to collect ideas for the relocation. The winning proposal, developed by Squadra Komanda, proposes a “visionary program of development for the disputed and immense architectural legacy from the late-Soviet period.”
Late Soviet architecture constitutes “almost two third of all buildings in Moscow.” As it represents “an unpleasant reminder of the recent past,” many Russians dislike this kind of building. As a result, the Strelka Unsettled, with the possibility for collaboration with the outdated cultural institutions hosted inside the building of the All Russian State Library for Foreign Literature (built in 1966), seeks to offer new scenarios for this “neglected kind of architecture.”
In Archaeology of the Periphery, a publication emerging out of the Moscow Urban Forum, a variety of specialists tackle the issue of a strategy for the development of Moscow’s metropolitan area. As one of the best examples of urban concentric development, teams of engineers, architects, planners, economists and sociologists, studied the Russian metropolis with a pointed focus on the periphery—specifically the territory between the Third Ring Road and the Moscow Ring Road. Using an “archaeological” approach, the study reveals entrenched and hidden planning structures in order to increase the awareness and attractiveness of the periphery. Archaeology of the Periphery argues that examination of the city’s fringe requires different methods of analysis than would be applied to traditional city centers.
“As the centre sets a certain quality of life and serves as a benchmark for the entire city, the high “gravitation” of the centre makes the signs of urban life invisible on the outskirts. Different optics are required in order to work with the non-central urban space. The tactic of “taking out” the centre and “sharpening the focus” on the peripheral territory will reveal what has been obscured and help identify the processes that take place, study potential, support or control the current forces at play.
The term “periphery,” which is based on the opposition to a semantic centre is used in a wide range of scientific fields. The myriad of approaches underlines the ambiguity of the phenomenon and at the same time provides a base for an multidisciplinary research. This research was performed by experts in sociology (S), politics (P), architecture and urban planning (A), culture (C), economics (E) and big data (D). Methodology — SPACED — allows a broader view of the actual and potential intersections, going.”
A few hours ago in Venice, Rem Koolhaas presented his curatorial vision for “Fundamentals” in a live-streamed opening press conference. As we reported last year, “Fundamentals” will focus on architecture rather than architects and history rather than contemporaneity. Koolhaas will not just curate an exhibition of his own, but will be coordinating the “collective effort of all national pavilions.”
This year’s exhibition features the participation of 65 countries–including 11 first-time participants (Azerbaijan, Côte d’Ivoire, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand and Turkey). See the complete list of national participants–which includes collaborations with Jacques Tati, Hans Ulrich Obrist, FAT, Iñaki Ábalos and others–after the break.
Click here to see all of ArchDaily’s previous coverage of the 2014 Venice Biennale. And stay tuned… we’ll be bringing you on-the-ground reports from Venice when the Biennale launches in the first week of June!
The Ukraina Hotel, with the support of the non-state educational institution Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, have announced the finalists for the Ukraina Hotel Entryway competition. Designs from ABD Architects (Russia) in cooperation with Werner Sobek Moskwa (Russia), TPO Lesosplav (Russia) in cooperation with Malishev Wilson Engineers (UK), and Studio 44 (Russia) have been chosen from a total of ten competing proposals, one of which will now be implemented by the client. Offering the chance to design a new entrance to one of Moscow’s foremost landmarks, the winning scheme will provide a rare opportunity to work with an unique example of Stalinist architectural heritage.
Among the biggest challenges facing city planners is to implement plans which are not just needed, but also popular. In a bid to address this common problem of democratic city design, the Strelka Institute developed What Moscow Wants, an online platform designed to crowdsource ideas for the development of Moscow.
What Moscow Wants consists of a three-step process: residents first propose ideas on the website (ranging from the prosaic suggestion of a standardized city-wide parking bollard, to the outlandish idea of an underwater museum in the Moscow River); next, local architectural practices chose suggestions which they felt they could contribute a solution to and posted their proposals to the website; finally, the most popular choices were presented by the architects at the Moscow Urban Forum from the 5-7th of December.
Read on after the break to see a selection of the most popular projects