Anna Andronova's work won the third LafargeHolcim Award "New Generation" for students and architects under 30 in the regional European division of the award. The award was announced on September 28 (see details). The project was made in the TIArch conceptual design studio of the Kazan State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering (KGASU). The heads of the studio, Ilnar and Reseda Akhtyamov, were the curators of the work. Which, as it turned out in the conversation, is a complex study of the futuristic direction, consisting of modules: parts of the project have already received several different international awards. Anna is currently a graduate student at Bartlett School; but the project “Liquid Era”, awarded in Marseille, was nominated from Russia.
What is the essence of your marked project LafargeHolcimAward?
- In the original version, the work is called "Digital Renaissance" - we believe that the development of digital technologies can lead to another not only technological, but also a cultural revolution, comparable to the one that took place after the Middle Ages. Already, cities are becoming completely different, they function in a new way. In our opinion, a person will no longer be a part of the city, but will become the center of everything, and at the same time will be in a humane environment that does not spoil, but improves the planet. We will live in harmony with nature, we will stop exploiting it; we will be able to realize who we are in this world, and what we are doing, where we are going.
That is, it is a grandiose futuristic fantasy. How did you work on the project?
- It is based on my thesis, completed last year at KSASU under the leadership of Ilnar and Reseda Akhtyamovs. They are the curators of my work. I started with research: I studied digital technologies, virtual reality … Then I developed a complex model based on the assumption - how a city can function, taking into account the changes associated with the development of digital technologies. It turned out two tablets, where I depicted the urban fabric, people, nature - in interaction; tried to accommodate everything. Then she identified and worked on individual nodes, such as a market or park of the future, a hotel or a transport hub. Then she explored form elements such as line, point, surface, volume.
Finally, having understood my work from the inside, I got the opportunity to project it onto specific sites in Kazan, a city that I know well. It turned out three projects, "tied" to specific places. The first is a railway junction. The second is the Mega shopping center, here I am thinking about how the shopping center might change in the future. The third is the Bulak Canal, it flows in the center of the city between highways, we proposed to return it to society and people.
- The work is based on a structural model: how will the square, street, living space change … How technologies will change professions, people, society. And on the other hand, how a society that already exists in the digital space is changing the city, we look both ways. A model is a sum of objective assumptions linked together. Then a system close to architecture is built on it: structure and space. Since Anya has developed spatial thinking, we got a futuristic interpretation - the tablets show a look at how the model turns into architecture. Although this is the author's interpretation; if another architect uses the same model, he can imagine a different city. Although the essence will be the same. We do not show the actual model in competitions. But the result of the transformation of a model into architecture, presented from different angles, often impresses the competition jury.
Has the project already participated in several competitions?
- Not all, but parts of it. We have such a technique: the work consists of modules that can be considered and refined separately. One of the modules dedicated to the mall of the future won third place in a competition in China. Ani's project then became the regional winner in the Velux competition for natural lighting; with this work she performed at the WAF in Berlin. There were other prizes … For example, the Tamayouz Prize in Jordan was awarded for the first time in 2016 in an international format, in principle it is an award for Iraqi architects, it was supported by Zaha Hadid. Anya's project dedicated to transport also received a prize there. Anya participated in the American competition "Airport of the Future", where her work was dedicated to the Hong Kong airport, and took 2nd place there.
– My thesis covers all aspects of city life, so you can isolate something about light, something about ecological construction, something about social aspects.
How “paper” is your project?
- If we consider the complex model that Anya developed under our leadership, then this is not a “paper” project, but a methodology for action. This is more a forecast, something futuristic, something specific: how will architecture react to the changes in materials and digital technologies that are taking place now? After all, soon architecture will be printed on printers, and the mass of construction specialties will simply disappear. You need to be ready for this, you need not projects as such, but a methodology for predicting changes, new approaches to the industry.
Such futuristic forecasts and the development of their methodology is one of the directions of our studio. Before that, there was Yegor Orlov's work related to the future, she was a finalist for Archiprix 2015, then Alisa Silantieva's work became an Archiprix finalist this year - it is dedicated to food in the city, the return of food production to the city and thus ensuring its autonomy.
Anya has always been interested in the digital component of the city. When we discussed the work, we came to the conclusion that the time is ripening when the city will change, the moment will come when the digital component will become decisive. Of course, concrete structures will remain, but the decisions will be made by artificial intelligence. The architect will not disappear anywhere, but technologies, approaches to construction will change. Just like the person himself, the society - will have to change. We are already changing.