The 2013/2014 academic year has just ended but Strelka curators and teaching staff are already devising new themes, searching for lecturers and scheduling workshops for the next year. Strelka.com interviewed the programme director Anastasia Smirnova and found out what we can expect from the Strelka Institute in its 5th year of existence.
- The structure of the previous academic year proved to be quite successful. Our special formula (3 months (introductory course)+1 month (urban development contest)+3 months (research studio) +1 month (public exhibition project) worked like magic and it is going to stay. Nevertheless, the students provided a lot of feedback and we ourselves gained more experience. As a result, quite a few changes will be introduced in the next academic year and we will have even more exciting lectures, seminars, discussions and field trips.
TEN DIFFERENT QUESTIONS INSTEAD OF ONE THEME
Strelka students have been carrying out an in-depth study of Moscow for some time now. However, a couple of years ago there existed a considerable gap in the research concerning the most important city in Russia. We have managed to collect a lot of previously unknown data and proposed some practical solutions that could help tackle many of the difficulties Moscow is dealing with today. My colleagues are already working on a special educational programme that will summarize this data and make it more accessible.
After investigating urban routines and the everyday practices, the curators of the Institute decided that now is the right time to "zoom out" and focus more on the big fundamental issues that concern Russia and the whole world.
Instead of choosing one theme for the whole year, we are going to formulate ten different questions about what our life would be like in 10, 20, 30 years and what will characterize the role of those who can be quite literally called "the designers of tomorrow".
I’ll give you an example: the world population is ageing more and more rapidly. What kind of architecture would best accommodate the senior members of our society? Or another example: how will the radical decline in drinking water supplies affect the development of villages and big cities? Or what is the structure of the invisible world of macrologistics that is acquiring more and more physical territories in the age of online-shopping?
Right now we are discussing 15 potentially important trends. 10 of these will be picked by our experts for the 2014/2015 academic year.
FROM RESEARCH TO RESEARCH-BASED DESIGN
This year we are expecting from our students more than just academic research: we want actual research-based designs. It’s no longer enough to be able to collect and categorize data. The students should be ready to develop new strategies, new scenarios, new designs, new concepts – we want them to carry out actual project-based work.
THE BRIEF OR THE RIGHT WAY TO MISBEHAVE
Every architect, designer or urbanist receives the brief from their client. That’s how it normally works and that’s how it always was at Strelka. Our studio directors played two opposite roles acting both as clients and as project managers.
However, this time the brief would be designed by the students themselves in accordance with the 10 fundamental questions. The academic staff will obviously provide all the necessary guidance, but the main goal is for the students to be able to formulate their topic independently and then offer effective solutions.
Those ten questions are by no means final: it is very likely that as a result of discussions with the students we will re-formulate them. We are always open for constructive criticism. This will, of course, put additional pressure on students in terms of responsibility, but it will also make the working process more exciting and challenging.
NO STUDIOS OR DIRECTORS
Students will be working on their briefs, researching topics and devising projects in small groups of 2-3 people. We are not inviting coordinators this year, there will be no studios, but each group will be offered an adviser. Moreover, foreign experts will be available for consultations.
THE CURATOR OF THE ACADEMIC YEAR
I’m happy to announce that this year we will be working with the Dutch architect and urbanist, one of the founders of MVRDV, Winy Maas. Maas will be involved from the very first stage when we will be formulating our ‹‹Ten fundamental questions