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Strelka Institute

Infrastructure, work and gamification: the future of Magadan.

The Strelka Institute, located in Moscow, Russia, is a highly selective research program that encourages exploration of various disciplines through architecture and design projects. The New Arctic, a short workshop led by Liam Young and Nathan Su in the "The New Normal" project timeline, is comprised of six films set in Magadan, an isolated port town along the Sea of Okhotsk.

РАЗНОС, or Raznos, presents a closer look at the economic and geographic characteristics of Magadan and its potential for investment opportunities. The team - Thomas Grogan, Nataliya Mezhetskaya, Mikhail Anisimov, Artem Konevskikh, Paul Heinicker - markets the port-town as an underutilized area with infrastructural potential, given its proximity to mining zones.

The film opens with fact-based graphics describing a decreasing population and economic statistics superimposed over aerial views of snow-covered mountains, reminiscent of spy movies. This approach is further strengthened by architectural methods such as 3D topography models highlighting existing infrastructure, such as cranes, snowmobiles, and drones and their relative distance to mining points. This method builds upon a clear business pitch: to capitalize on the "infrastructure culture" that is present in Magadan, with the exception that it does so by treating this culture as a live-stream game.

This take is appropriate for the future, since consumers currently default to online purchases or rely on online reviews. However, ethical issues may arise in a semi-automated environment, especially when consumers fail to see workers as people, but instead focus on the product. On the other hand, the live-stream format can actually benefit workers since remote users would have the option to interact and even pay workers. By marketing the resources and architectural capacity of Magadan online, this team considers its visibility, gearing their culture toward international partners and outside sources in the hopes of reviving the town.

The film format initially takes on a serious tone, treating the revival of Magadan as a mission with objectives to complete. However, the second half of the film focuses on the consumer point of view, accessing the Magadan website, rendered through 90’s style animation.

Since its conception in 2010, the Strelka Institute has released new project themes each year centered around urbanism, public space, global trends and emerging technologies. The current theme, The New Normal, is a three-year program that focuses on the proposed connections between urbanism and technology in 2050.

(Story by Pilar Pereyra, The Architecture Player)


Written and directed by: Thomas Grogan, Nataliya Mezhetskaya, Mikhail Anisimov, Artem Konevskikh, Paul Heinicker
Mentioned project: The New Arctic (2018)
Project location: Magadan, Siberia, Russia
Tutors: Nathan Su and Liam Young

Russia 2018
Duration: 4'30"