Director: Rem Koolhaas
Supervisors: Anastassia Smirnova, Nikita Tokarev

The understanding of architectural preservation has changed irrevocably over the past few decades. What was once exclusively the terrain of historians and specialists has now become an intertwining puzzle linking economics, sociology and politics with cultural heritage. Preservation today is something we foresee and try to accommodate in advance, rather than look at purely retrospectively. Russia, with its complex mix of historical and cultural legacies, is the case study for this theme. The research surveys the changing history of preservation theory and then seeks to look at preservation in an altogether new light and redefine some of the stereotypes that surround it.


Directors: Michael Schindhelm, Yury Grigoryan
Coordinator: Fedor Novikov

The way we think of public space is changing all the time, but is it for the better? The popularity of virtual realms has distracted attention from physical space. Conversely, a surfeit of good intentions, especially with the increased proliferation of hybrid commercial spaces over purely public ventures, can result in pre-programmed, overplanned areas that lack spontaneity. The theme looks at public space in the Russian context – the vast expanses of open space that are the legacy of monumental Soviet planning, and the architecture of improvisation that the arrival of the market economy prompted in these spaces.


Director: Stefano Boeri
Supervisors: Francisca Insulza, Alexei Muratov

The Design theme focuses on understanding the physical transformations that Moscow has undergone since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Who is actually designing the city today and what role have design and architecture played during the past two decades of political and social transition? The theme takes a very broad definition of design as its base – the intention to change or enhance a space by adding value to it. The idea is to scrutinize a number of new and changed spaces and create a so-called “Eclectic Atlas of Moscow” that catalogues the capital’s transformation in the past two decades.


Director: Reinier De Graaf
Supervisors: Olga Aleksakova, Laura Baird

Can we hope for a Russia that is no longer dependent on oil and gas during our lifetimes? Russia has extraordinary natural potential for renewable energy, as well as centralised governance that could make its efficient exploitation possible. Research in this theme looks at the history and economics of energy and its infrastructure in Russia, and at chances for a serious transition towards renewable sources of energy. Such a transition could not only secure the long-term energy security of Russia, but also serve as an impetus for broader modernisation and innovation in other areas of the economy.


Directors: Joseph Grima, Jiang Jun
Coordinator: Sergei Kulikov

Thinning is a concept familiar across the world but perhaps nowhere is the problem so acute as in Russia, with its vast landmass and troubled demographic trends. An obvious manifestation of thinning is shrinking cities, whose original purpose has been eroded or abandoned, but the concept also extends to ostensibly healthy urban environments where new architecture results in low-density population. The research also looks at smaller conurbations, such as the Russian mono-cities arranged entirely around one industry or factory, as well as thinning non-urban environments and the countryside. The aim is to use the Russian perspective as a route in to a discussion with global ramifications.

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