The New Normal is a multidisciplinary postgraduate programme at the Strelka Institute which focuses on research and design for the city and explores opportunities and challenges posed by emerging technologies for interdisciplinary design practices.

The New Normal is a 3-year initiative Strelka started in 2016. Each year the Institute admits 30 students from around to world for a 5-months research cycle as part of this longer initiative.

The programme functions as a “speculative urbanism think-tank”, a platform for the invention and articulation of a new discourse and new models.

Emerging technologies and processes have so thoroughly infused the fabric of our cities, that to even think about urban design now requires a fresh understanding of how these new processes work, and in what ways they might be challenging our shared cultural, economic and political fabric.

This year at Strelka, we reflect on this new paradigm and catch up to ‘The New Normal’, the new context set in motion by the age of global computation, data analytic, algorithmic governance by updating our contemporary urban toolkit. The expectations we direct upon ourselves is to map the NEW NORMAL and create the NEW NORMATIVE of the physical and cultural landscape of our cities.

We asked the program participants to respond to a core provocation: to design for the year 2050, not as if it that date is in some faraway future, but already in an extended present, a thicker ‘now’. The 7 projects developed in the first year of The New Normal program not only come to different conclusions about what is to be done, they start from quite different premises about how an answer or solution might be articulated. Some began as risky speculations and became quite practical propositions for infrastructural intervention. Others started with concrete history and found that a poetic cinematic language would provide the most direct expression of what is most at stake. All of them are urban projects, but not necessarily in the conventional sense of that term. Each resists a ‘normal’ urbanism in favor of one that is more integrative, more generous, and which seeks a new home in the great outdoors of our shared uncertain future.