Since the end of World War II, Russia’s cities have grown in a Modern Soviet style. This prolonged use and application of the principles of architecture’s modern movement heavily affected the country’s development and urban expansion. But now, the new generations of architecture professionals are seeking to make a change.
The pressure placed on the modern movement led to a focus on urbanization and heightened attention (more so than other pressing issues of the time).
Housing became the star of the urban development plan and led to the construction of vast residential complexes that promulgated the values of Communism in every detail of their construction.
In spite of the Modern Movement’s intentions to develop the recreational spaces that would complement the new housing, the over-zealous emphasis on living space actually placed the creation of public spaces on the political back burner, resulting in poorly designed and poorly administered public spaces that inspired few feelings of community for the people who lived around them.
Today, after decades of Soviet Modernism, this model is still used by the architects and planners behind the development of Russia’s cities and counts the support of both the state and private investors for its maintenance. This permanent reliance on the Modern Movement as the basis for design and construction is creating a rift in the fabric of urban development. This emphasis has also allowed for an over-emphasis on space for automobiles that has pushed the needs of human inhabitants to the side.
However, new generations of professionals understand that Soviet architecture isn’t the solution for Russia today and are actively looking to make a change: passing from the rationalist, schematic paradigm to one that understands cities as living organisms that grow on their own.
These new architects seek to develop the city as a support for the complexities of human existence and its needs, taking time to analyze and comprehend the spatial challenges that come with it. They promote a dense and variable structure with the ability to foster diversity and spontaneity, reviving the human element of Russian cities.
To ensure that future generations of professionals foster and continue the changes being made, Strelka Institute, with the support of DOM.RF and the Russian government, created the ARCHITECTS.RF program as a way to tap into the personal and professional potential of its participants and to develop their soft skills while also giving them the tools necessary to create new urban spaces and plan Russia’s future cities.
Given the quantity of opportunities that come about in times of change, thisis a prime moment for the young architects of Russia. ARCHITECTS.RF program selected 100 Russian architects to confront the task ahead. They are professionals under 40 who are working to bring about interesting projects that not only a change the mentality of their fellow professionals, but also the mentality of their compatriots by bringing them to the forefront of contemporary life.
One of the key figures leading the movement for change is Strelka KB, an organization that has spent the past 5 years pushing authorities, architects, and academics to see Russian cities as integrated systems and demonstrating that urbanization should embrace the needs of the inhabitants that drive it.
In the spirit of Russia’s revitalizing architecture, we have selected 5 exemplary projects that highlight the potential of the country’s focus on community and shared spaces: