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Luxury of Life

Strelka Institute

Foreseeing leisure time in the post-work world.

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 - part of the "The New Normal" project - is a short workshop led by Liam Young and Nathan Su. It is comprised of six films set in Magadan, an isolated port town along the Sea of Okhotsk. Read more at the end of the article.

"Luxury of Life" highlights the act of fishing as an analogy for leisure-based activities and their place in the near future. The team - Alexey Orlov, Leo Stuckardt, Ivan Puzyrev, Lukáš Likavčan, Anna Tokareva, and Katya Sivers - analyzes working conditions of fishermen and fish processing plant workers in Siberia. In response, they reflect on the idea of a "post-work" culture of leisure, a period when humans can finally rest and let the machines do all the work.

Shots of fishermen using ice augers demonstrate a reliance on modern tools to facilitate this economy-based activity in the present. However, a version of the future that the film team envisions is that of an automated lifestyle where productivity no longer requires physical labor but rather a peaceful surrender to a machine-based society. This arctic environment features sub-aquatic mechanical architecture that removes the need for human-operated tools when fishing and performing other tasks.

According to the creators, such an environment liberates people from the constraints of a work-oriented society, allowing them to explore other creative outlets freely. Strategic glimpses of humans peacefully wandering the frozen landscape and believable underwater machines can convince us of a reality where one can finally abandon their harsh labors in the Arctic in favor of a calm retirement focused on personal exploration and societal growth.

The film format also suggests a transformation through the integration of these sub-aquatic architectural elements. What begins as an empty landscape with a solitary fisherman and his ice auger in hand ends as a community of fishermen looking to the sunrise, spending their days on the ice, thanks to the help of mechanical lasers below that melt portions of ice for them to fish. The arctic environment is also brought to life through soft pink illuminations across the ice or below the sea, signals of approaching technological advantages and a new era of leisure.

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: Alexey Orlov, Leo Stuckardt, Ivan Puzyrev, Lukáš Likavčan, Anna Tokareva, and Katya Sivers
Mentioned project: The New Arctic (2018)
Project location: Magadan, Siberia, Russia
Tutors: Nathan Su and Liam Young

Russia 2018
Duration: 3'02"