Students from Strelka’s third incoming class talk about urbanism and share their hopes and dreams

07.10.2012, 11:45
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Masha Slavnova, 29, Vladimir, architect:

One of the reasons the study of cities and urban environment is fascinating to me is the complexity of relationships it creates. To keep humanity alive is one of my main tasks as an activist and urbanist, and most importantly, a fellow human. The system that we face every day is designed to make the users follow the prescribed paths, follow the rules of the society of spectacle, consume, keep entertained, and keep producing capital. What I ask this year, is where are gaps in the system, where are the places where we can meet? Where are the public places we feel free to create our own rules, to experiment, to discover, to share? In this year I would like to focus on the value of community, use of public spaces, creation of cultural capital and self empowerment. To define it in verbs: i will study the context, test the boundaries and hope to activate spaces with the energy of others.

Yaroslava Barmenkova, 27, Moscow, urban designer:

I’m interested in public spaces. It seems to me that Russia doesn’t always use or even appreciate the things that make it unique. For example, there are national history museums, but for some reason, unlike modern art museums, they’re not in high demand. The chess museum is a good example. Russia’s chess program is one of the best in the world, but this museum has been closed several years for renovations. Even before it was closed, judging by the photographs I’ve seen, it was a sorry sight, despite the fact that its exhibits definitely deserved attention. I feel the potential of such places. I can imagine how such a museum could be turned into an interesting, modern space for diverse people of all ages, how it could become a place for learning and socializing, as well as a tourist attraction.

Sergei Kasich, 28, Sevastopol, electronic musician:

I’m interested in creative communities. I’ve organized two such communities, but they don’t currently have a physical presence. We used to have gathering places, but they disappeared and everything went virtual and we didn’t need to gather in person. Two years later, people have realized that they need a place after all. It’s important to create such places.

Polina Khanova, 22, Moscow, philosopher:

Philosophy and urbanism are interested in how complex systems work. Both include elements of culture, science, and the social aspects of human life. A city includes everything, as does philosophy, in a sense. You can’t limit yourself to one subject area if you want to understand how the whole city works.

Ondrej Janku, 29, Prague, architect:

Professional practice has it that an architectural brief is a request from a client that an architect designs to meet by creating a building to accommodate the requirements. It is a nature of an architectural project to question such briefs and its relevance, logic and possibilities for improvement. Visionary ideas and smart arguments in the heads of practicing architects have not only a potential for the design of great buildings but also for a proposal of new solutions that the client would not have considered. Nowadays, it is mandatory to examine often selfish interests and obsolete requirements of architectural commissions and to reintroduce a renaissance and inventive spirit of architecture that does not only build a stand alone icons but helps the client to see his intentions on a broader scale. Not only on a physical level, but also as an element directly effecting the quality of life. Strelka has a precious opportunity to train a new generation of mediators between clients and designers that will reactivate a long lost multidisciplinary and openminded discussion once again.

Liya Safina, 23, Minsk, architect:

I am mostly interested in the «Education as project» studio, I hope to work in this field in the next couple of years. It would be nice if successful professionals changed their specialization from time to time, enhancing their outlook, striving to look at their work from different angles and different experiences. At Strelka I certainly hope to produce something more than just paperwork interesting for a narrow circle of specialists, my aim is to make someone’s life better, even if just a little. I’ve been working in the sphere of non-formal education in the programmes of the EU, now my interests are to research this field in Moscow and Russia. Unfortunately, youth work here is on completely different level and this is not a compliment. With non-formal education it is possible to improve the skills of young people that allow to learn and act independently, develop personal competencies, engage them in the process of identifying problems and making decisions, teach them to create and manage own projects. I would like to work on this problem, maybe even to create an experimental learning program.

Nathan de Groot, 24, Dordrecht, urbanist:

I think that urbanism is the endless transformation of cities. The main question is, “How can a planned environment quickly adapt to peoples’ changing needs?” Cars dominate our streets, while pedestrians and bicyclists risk their lives. If we all agree that our priorities should be different, then we can’t accept the status quo and we’re compelled to change it. I’m ready to spend my nine months developing new ways of working in and moving around a city. Moscow, in particular, is ripe for massive improvements, and these changes are becoming more critical and obvious by the day. The truth is that I dream about traffic jams of bicyclists in Moscow, just like in Amsterdam. I think that’s something worth fighting for.

Oxana Yatsenko, 25, Vologda, journalist:

I came here with several goals in mind. One of them was to create an art project about socialization in which a teacher gives drawing lessons to children, organizes exhibitions, sell the works and invests the money in the children’s’ development. It’s a project about communication, travel, socialization, friendship, and love. I’d like to learn to manage processes on all levels more efficiently, and perhaps some day I’ll be able to launch my project on an international scale.