Russia reinvents the architecture festival format

Russia reinvents the architecture festival format

Russia is famous for its grand landscapes stretching out to the horizon, free and wild. Some of these green fields and ex-farm collectives not too far from Moscow also serve as platforms for architectural experimentation. In 2005, two festivals with a truly unique format were born, where architects, designers and artists of all ages gather to build a showcase for visitors to camp around and enjoy the show.

The Goroda and Archstoyanie festivals both provide their participants with a chance to design and construct something that wouldn’t be possible in an urban context. For some of its young contributors this is often their first chance to build.
Both events fully exploit their sites’ rural potential. Goroda has previously travelled around Russia and beyond, finding its permanent home last year in an abandoned Soviet collective farm, the Archfarm. Ten structures currently remain from last year’s festival, all site-specific ’answers to the place’. Some of them are playful and some truly functional - including the elegant and simple wooden huts, now rented out to frequent visitors.

Those participating in these festivals use natural local materials to full potential and build for the future. Archstoyanie, set over 120 hectares of land, is home to Alexander Brodsky’s wooden Rotonda and Boris Bernaskoni’s Arc. They were designed for the festival, but also help develop the surrounding national park.

Over 10,000 people visited Archstoyanie this year, joining special walks around the site and attending performances by contemporary artists. Both rural festivals are known for their thought-provoking designs, but also offer a fun day out for all; a sample of what the numerous Russian architecture and design festivals have to offer, both in town and the countryside.

Here’s our pick of the top five Russian architecture festivals:

Archstoyanie festival
Organiser: Nikola-Lenivets
Curator: Anton Kochurkin  
When: Annually, every July for 3 days
Where: Kaluga’s region, Dzerjinskiy district, Nikola-lenivets village

Goroda festival
Organiser: Ivan Ovchinnikov
When: biannually, every August and February, over 2 weeks in the summer and 2 weeks in the winter
Where: Tula region, Zaokskij village

Sretenka Design Week
Organiser: Andrei Samonaev
When: annually, every October for a week
Where: Moscow

Moscow Architecture Festival
Curator: Bart Goldhoorn
When: Annually, every May for 5 days
Where: Moscow

Moscow Biennale
Organiser: Vasiliy Bychkov
When: annually, over two weeks between May and June
Where: Moscow

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