Ever since it launched during the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, the Strelka Institute for media, architecture and design has been making waves with its innovatively experimental approach and fabulous Moscow HQ.
With a Rem Koolhaas/AMO-curated educational programme, the independent non-profit organisation offers post-graduate research, hosts lectures and workshops and consults on urban development. In the past two years the school has been growing in size as well as international reputation, and its most recent scheme, Strelka Press, has just launched.
Proposing a new digital model for writing on architecture, design and the city, Strelka Press and its director, British critic and writer Justin McGuirk, create e-editions of essays and long-form journalism, offering instant digital access to critical architectural thinking from around the world to a global audience.
The inaugural Strelka Press series includes seven titles touching on subjects like the post-Soviet city, urbanism and architecture in China and São Paulo. It also features acclaimed authors such as writer and journalist Owen Hatherley, architect Sam Jacob, as well as the Strelka press director himself. 'Despite this angst about the "death" of the book, this is an exciting time for publishing, and we want to be at the forefront of these new possibilities,' says McGuirk.
Picking the right talent for the scheme, as well as the right, timely themes was tough, but a challenge McGuirk relished. 'I started with the writers. I brought together a group of authors that really have something to say and that I knew would rise to the challenge of a new format - longer pieces produced as ebooks', he says. 'Through discussions with the writers we arrived at the topics that they wanted to address, which is a more natural process than thinking up the themes and then trying to find the writers to take them on.'
Beautifully designed by London-based graphic design studio OK-RM, this first series of Strelka Press ebooks are now available online. A second series is already in the making, strengthening Russia’s voice in the international architecture and urbanism debate. 'We're already starting to develop a second wave of ebooks to come out later in the year', says McGuirk. 'For us, the exciting thing is the platform that we've created. Yes, we've just released seven titles, but really what we're launching is the platform, one that has the potential to grow quite rapidly. So for us this is just the beginning.'