David Basulto and Varvara Melnikova

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hard alien stroke is kind of the same

age we started 10 years ago and he

started like something 9 years ago and

you’re the biggest in terms of the

audience and in terms of their country

coverage architectural source for

different projects architects name and

etc but still you kind of media how do

you think media changed especially for

your type of the audience and for

architecture for this yes we start as

media because media was the main a way

for architects to exchange knowledge

this is a profession that you could say

is very scientific the architecture

media was being produced in the centers

in London New York Boston Milan and then

sent to the rest of the world like in a

very colonial way it’s like this is what

you have to do but the internet allowed

to break the centrality and for us that

was the main importance of doing our

daily and we think that our biggest

contribution to the world has to make

this cross pollenization in a very

decentralized way that is why today

architects from around the world being

inspired but by what is happening in

Indonesia Iran Russia which are not the

usual sources of architectural

inspiration you will say 10 years ago we

were reading about the brick economy

Brazil Russia India China a countries

that were growing like crazy in terms of

economy and therefore in construction so

something was dead in terms of

architecture and I was reading about

this new school called strelka starting

in Russia and with my partner David

aside we said we have to go to Russia we

came here when there was this boom and

it was say incredible for us to see it

at the same time that we were going to

Brazil or to China to visit

witness that here but for us was very

interesting to come here to the Red

October island to visit this school that

said architecture design and media we

were wondering

Media at the time why is media so

important I guess for us when we started

Strelka media was actually hugely

important because we wanted to broadcast

the knowledge their ideas the new name

the famous name basically to boost up

the discussion about the city about the

importance of public space about the

importance of quality of air quality of

water in the city the affordable housing

the landscape projects so all of this we

thought should be not only the question

which only architects and urbanism is

meditated on but it has to be much more

broader so the decision-makers should be

where these developers of different kind

should be well phase the young

generation should be aware of this so we

wanted to involve them as many different

audience as possible and to get them to

be interest in the city and in

architecture as one of the instrument of

how you could actually develop and build

the city coming back to our daily do you

have any statistics in terms of your

audience what kind of architecture do

they like this is interesting because

the Internet open platforms offer the

possibility of these user-generated

content and today the the biggest media

is that but here comes a crucial part of

our daily because we provide an open

channel but there is a curator in

between but at the same time

acknowledging that the architecture

profession is very diverse so sometimes

even a small humble project being done

in the city center of an unknown city

can help another architect much as a big

museum in a European city can do so in

this aspect we try to always understand

also the data because we have humans

doing this curation

Chile in Europe Asia the US but at the

end is how do they make a good use of

the vector to understand what are the

things that our users are needing and

here’s perhaps our biggest learning in

the last year when we see that we have a

split between architects and also some

non architects who come to our platform

but through the data we’re understanding

this trend that is happening in the

world where much more people are trying

to enter into architecture not being

architects this is a trend that is

growing more and more especially when

people are putting much more effort in

or passion into their concept of their

home or building a second home and this

is growing growing and growing when you

say in an architect’s food do you

actually mean it’s like for the other

professionals who using they are stating

I will say it’s like prosumers its

disadvantaged consumers or something

people are saying I want to work with an

architect I want to remodel my house

what can I get where can I see

inspiration how can i buy something and

all of this is available online and when

you are googling about interesting case

study of a house and interesting

interior or an inspiring space you’re

going to find the same that an architect

is looking into these terms so it’s

becoming like a more common arena in

Russia like 70% of architecture is done

by non architects so it’s not really

artistic and it’s kind of mass

production and I assume that is roughly

the same in most of the countries is

this content of mass production

architecture which is done by non

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architects by let’s say no name big

companies has some kind of space in our

daily or how do you treat this type of

the content work for us we are not a

be in a bubble and not acknowledge it

and I think it’s very important to

understand it where you goes at the end

this is an industry driven by efficiency

a developer doesn’t want to calls let’s

say harm but he wants to do things in an

efficient way

and in this efficiency driven society it

is good to look back how we got here

in the post-war era and I think that

this is very present here there had to

be a very big reconstruction rebuilding

to output a lot of housing for a lot of

people and at that time we embraced the

Machine the lines of production where

you could design something modular and

you could repeat it and make it scale so

everything the same in a modular way and

what is happening today with production

you can still have very efficient

efficient lines of output but you can do

customization with the same efficiency

and especially I see a big potential

here in Russia because the big

developers want to be more efficient and

they want to embrace technology and

product to the new needs of consumers

today if you are a techie person you say

I want to enter in to influence the

world something go to work in a big

startup be a software developer but now

you can apply this kind of thinking to

do buildings it used to be very

inefficient but now with being positive

thing about this technology is that at

the end more than creating something

that is very specific is something very

open that interconnects and allows many

stakeholders to take part I think that

this is a good evolution in terms of

technology because of that it’s enabling

a very diverse group of people to

interact around a

building yeah it’s actually very much

resonate with strelka vision and the way

how we do the things everything should

be open as much as possible and whatever

you do your research project or your

public program or you do the books it

has to be open for as much audience as

possible but it also gives you know

acquired a huge possibility for non

architects who usually the decision

makers like developers or city

authorities to look at the project in a

more 3d way and so they actually can

read it much more easily instead of just

looking only in plans

which also kind of opened the profession

for much bigger contribution because

right now what I see and what I see in

Moscow and other Russian cities that if

you take any other city project whatever

it would be Park Street or even there

for the housing everybody would like to

make their own contribution so it’s not

only the architects it’s also in a the

people I don’t know the economists

psychology anthropology so like

different audience everybody would like

to contribute and the most interesting

project which I’m grievin which I quite

often write through your art daily is

kind of this community project when

people basically get themselves in the

community and when they have the

architects as one of the elements of

this community and then they started to

create this team effort how do you think

architects could expand their influence

on different subject I don’t know a

coach has just Anna be recently

announced that architects should make

the contribution to climate change and

other questions and

you have a huge community for architects

who could actually give this

contribution yes this is important

because in a way what you’re saying with

this desire of Revit to address climate

change okay Architects are related to

buildings construction is the biggest

any sort of a co2 if we go deeper into

that into that initiative for example is

to ask what is an architect and during

this specialization of professionals the

architect became the person who has to

draw something that needs to be built

but in our training to achieve that we

have learned a lot about what we call

today design thinking and we have a very

valuable tool of abstraction so we can

address problems now we do it in the

form of buildings or cities but this is

something that is a needle across

society and you see architects doing

tech startups the dual address

construction problems a very obvious

evolution but you are also seeing them

entering to other industries being

project managers being interface

designers and entering through these

skills into other problems so I am very

positive about how this faces the

constant question maybe there are too

many architects in the world today the

people who are making society advanced

at they’re very brave the fact that we

have somebody as yellow mask thinking we

need to conquer other planets we need to

extend humanity that requires brightness

and a little bit of craziness as well I

totally support this for me the

architecture is not much more than just

a building it’s actually a the kind of

state of thinking approach to the way

how you think and then the beauty and

huge possibility which architects has

that they actually

can imagine anything in the space even

if you take any other professions this

is a particular skills which architects

have especially with this blending of

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our life style between material world

and digital world this way how the

architects trained to think it could

apply it in many different areas and I

totally a strong believer that these

particular skills to understand the

space by saying space I mean not only

the flight building ordinary city I’m


I mean planet if you want different

planets if you want and you say maybe

this output of the traditional architect

in terms of construction is not feasible

anymore but the positives thing is to

see this trend to to understand that the

role of the architect is changing and

evolving my first encounter with Russia

was Moscow the this big capital of the

world that has always been in done

conscious you you think about the

capitals of the world it is New York

London Sao Paolo Hong Kong Tokyo Moscow

I remember when I came the first time

Moscow City was very intense it was a

messy city centre where the public was

left over it was everything about the

private but after these 10 years Moscow

City has become a capital that has

embraced public spaces it is a much more

beautiful city with all their a

pedestrians exist they have a boys to

see even public bike system a very rich

new park system streets are being taken

care of how do you see the influence of

strata and the graduates on this change

of the city I think we’ve been kind of

you know a pioneers of this movement and

the movement was basically that before

this 10 years everything in Russia and

Moscow was about your private comfort

your beautiful car your nice flat

so he didn’t really care much the way

how you walk on the streets the public

transportation as you get your own car

you also had the opportunity to travel

quite a lot so you’ve seen all these

cities which he mentioned London Hong

Kong New York you basically started to

compare Moscow with the comfort of life

the street comfort of life and other

cities you immediately see like a huge

gap so I think that we kind of really

helped and payoneer and kind for the

night kicked off this movement that

changed should be done and it could

start with the public space with the

parks with the streets say that you

would feel comfortable safe funny free

not only in your nice flat or nice card

inside of your nice car but also in the

city itself it was really widely

supported because we changed the mayor

of Moscow he has a very great skill of

Albany’s on decision-making level have

you seen anything else a part of Moscow

what could you tell about the other

cities of Russia have also had the luck

to be CJ st. Petersburg or Dagestan very

different a context and what I came to

understand this is a very big territory

it spans from where we are in the

eastern Western head but it goes all the

way through the Pacific so it is very

diverse it is very complex and I am very

curious to understand more of it now I

know more about the big cities but when

I went to Dagestan and I saw how their

territory needs to be in a way developed

to make it useful and to distribute

opportunities here is a tremendous work

for the development of the city

you need alternate ease with commitment

and with a prohibition in something

interesting I have seen from Circus that

okay glad oh it well they can work from

healing to public projects that are done

from strelka but also that they go to

work into the government and also in a

government outside of Moscow how do you

see that the profile of graduates who

are going to places where they can

influence a policymaking or city


I think stroke in terms of them our

loonies gives a lot of possibilities if

you would like to work with city

authorities and be in free answer and

being the agent of change but also we

explained that you could also be the

agent of change when you do your own

startup when you do your own nonprofit

organization when you started kind of

spin of educational projects which could

be related not only for adult

researchers but also for the kids we

have a man from Belarus he basically

come to studies Chalker a few years ago

and then he got back to Minsk and he

organized the kids school and he

explained the kids the importance of

architecture the way how you could

actually influence architecture here we

want to ask you because I constantly see

well Stricker has a public program

invites people has a publishing section

a publishing Department that will takes

care about producing books Ebel’s to

distribute this knowledge how do you see

the influence of strelka well first

going outside the traditional

architecture in the Russian context but

also a heavy knife and influence outside

of Russia I think that we most

influenced outside of Russia with our

research program it’s not of our alumnus


I’m trying to create their own research

programs or their own educational

programs quite a few of our trail

calumnies doing their own startups about

in a blockchain technology and how it

could be related in cities and in

architecture and how we could use the

instruments such AI in architecture I

have boundaries could be much more

transparent if to compare especially

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Russia and the rest of the world I guess

our mind influenced is through people

through our Strelka alumnus through the

different people who visited us who give

a lecture to us who work with us and

became them ambassadors of different

type of ideas and the way how you look

at things but in terms of the real

project I guess yeah in Russia be much

more influenced because for example

there is a straight KB what can you tell

us about this say all they’re a part it


Rubin consultancy practice it does

masterplan city strategy city

development programs like my street or

parks or anything which is related to

public space we do a huge program about

the affordable housing so that it would

be much more comfortable and

contemporary contemporary in terms of

their the way for you use right now your

house then it’s used before 20 years

because most of the norms is Russia in

Russia didn’t change his since 60s

another 60 years passed and most of the

buildings which you could see let’s say

in Holland yeah you have no way that you

could actually build them in Russia not

because you don’t have architects who

cannot create such you know

warm and space and think like this but

mainly because of regulations which is

working right now totally against for

any types of ideas and when I’m talking

about the ideas I’m not mention only the

aesthetic spots it’s also you know this

issue for ecology issue of comfort you

chef security ok be works on this short

term and long term city programs or for

a different size trying to push them the

industry I would say turn them into

architects and also want to ask you

about the structure that supports this

trailer because still has a CEO not a

Dean why is that in terms of the

regulation we non-governmental

educational institute so we don’t have

to follow any educational rules in terms

of the organizational structure and that

we have to create the program and then

follow this program for the rest of our

lives and then to imply different

changes takes you ages we have a gene

which is Benjamin Bratton right now but

he is mainly responsible for research

and educational program

if you don’t involved our students in

commercial projects because they came

here and we think that our main

responsibilities and basically the

social contract which we makes with them

is that this education is totally

philanthropic they come for five years

or months they do pure research and so

the freedom of ideas would not be faced

with this regulation reality because

when you come to the real project most

of their the often things you hear like

yeah it’s a nice idea but we have this

regulation this regulation of this

regulation and we don’t have any energy

to change these regulations so can you

do something

cool but so that we wouldn’t have to

change the system of our regulations so

which actually wouldn’t really move your

ideas on a different level and we would

like our students to move fry on a

different level

you mentioned many times about this

heavy weight of the structure in Russia

there is even a very big historical

background that can be a heavy weight on

the shoulders of the young architects

what do you think would be a positive

aspect of all this a baggage I think you

know part of our identity which needs to

be reflected and researched by people it

comes from this heavy structure but so

CNA our being here oh it’s also part of

how I would say a kind of Russian DNA I

like the braveness which was in a

vanguard time and I think this brave

eNOS is great sense of architecture

which young generation needs right now

and when I’m saying brave I mean brave

not only in terms of that they kind of

changed the style of architecture

completely but it’s also the way how

they think about their high tech chure

how it could contribute to their

people’s life how it could change cities

how it could change construction

industry because right now mostly

architects think how they could actually

adjust themselves to the construction

industry I know that it’s really heavy

and it’s difficult etcetera

but in our past we used to be very brave

in our thinking so I guess this is

definitely the kind of a DNA of Russian

architects which could be applied right


well from here it is a firm it is very

interesting to see how to let’s say

companies were born at the same time but

in very different contexts are we welded

to what is happening today understanding

from our own corners how we can

contribute to the world of architecture

and to cities and to these future people

who are not going to be precisely

architects engaging into the development

of a architecture it would be in the

future I believe are like a mathematics

so everybody would learn how to

understand this and how to think about

this I think this is kind of what I

think of a huge contribution of

Architects and architecture a good

example because from mathematics you can

go into everything yeah it’s not even

music yes exactly