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. Work at Strelka will also examine how the new Russian reality correlates with the past, and what changes to expect in the future. Furthermore, it is an attempt to look at this reality from atypical angles.
The educational programme was devoted to the studies of the most common, trivial, everyday matters, concentrating on four main themes: thedifferent spaces and places where our everyday life unfolds (comprising the themes “Dwelling”, “Offices”, “Retail”), and commuting between them (the theme “Сars”).
Cars — Compared to the rest of Europe, Moscow experienced a surge in the amount of cars relatively recently. Private car ownership continues to grow, and what other cities went through over several decades, Moscow is experiencing in fast forward. What are the politics, economy, and culture of «Moscow-on-wheels»? How do toll roads and paid parking in the inner city impact upon personal freedom? Do they divide space between the rich and poor? Does the car help people to fight against inequalities or does it simply amplify the latter?
Offices — Corporate work patterns are changing as fast as the new office blocks of a certain standard are going up. Can we re-formulate, amplify, alter, or completely do away with the regulations for working space in order to adapt – not only to the way we work – but also to Moscow’s climate conditions specifically? Can we challenge the global paradigm of undifferentiated office space in a CBD glass tower, and diversify the notion of the Grade-A office in terms of urbanism and architecture?
Retail — The Post-Soviet deficit has become the catalyst of the ascendant Moscow retail environment, which is now a major player in global consumer culture. What are the underlying forces at play and the spatial dynamics of this industry? What is beneath the gloss:where are the tension points, the political will, the points of subversion?
Dwelling — The Soviet planning approach suggested that there is a calculable minimum of square meters per person required for comfortable living — the existenzminimum. Could such dwelling standards still be applied to contemporary city life? How have our dwelling needs changed, and what spaces accommodate our everyday life?
For 9 months, 40 students have been examining and exploring contemporary urban routines, trying to designate paradoxes and reveal the unmanifested in Moscow Dwelling, Retail, Offices and Cars. The outcome of this research will be available to the public during the exhibition.
Experts and professionals from various fields will discuss the different forms of the Ordinary. “Programming” the routine with architecture and design, art, urban food and other «tools»t was beyond the scope of students’ investigation.
The summer programme is also focused on exploring the Urban Routines through a series of lectures and workshops. Architects, designers, scientists, academics and media-artists analyse and test reality, experimenting with its elements to create new ones, and challenge the common-sense world. Urban food, the new city economy, the current digital reality alters our behaviour and changes our values; contemporary architecture inspired by nature; erasing borders between disciplines and creating spaces where art fuses with the routine — this is just a small part of the broad spectrum of topics to be covered during Strelka Summer.
Strelka Institute curatation team has been working on a project for Russian Pavilion at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale for almost a year. The tagline of the exhibition — ‘Russian Past, our Present’ — reveals its underlying concept: Russian ideas which have had a strong impact on the global architectural context. Many inventions of prominent Russian architects of the past have been adopted and processed to become an integral part of habitual reality.