Twice a year, in the summer and winter, young Russian architects come together to build with their own hands their own city at the City Festival.
This year, the City Festival has set up in a ski resort outside Moscow, not for a festival but for a one-off building project called ArchShelter. Architects try and work with the environment around them, and previous years have seen them make buildings out of snow, cloth, wood and stone, among many other materials.
“We want to innovate a new way of living,” said Ivan Ovchinnikov, curator of the festival.
“The most important thing for architects is to work with their hands,” Ovchinnikov said. “We give an opportunity to work with wood. That is a problem in our institutes, where students don’t have the possibility to practice with material as in Europe.”
Organizers decided to build a wooden winter house in as short a time as possible. “We have to make it in 24 hours,” Ovchinnikov said.
Originally, the structure — designed to withstand temperatures of less than minus 20 degrees Celsius — was supposed to be built on Feb. 5, but the weather was too warm and it was moved to Feb. 12.
The plan was to try and build as cheaply as possible with a budget of only 200,000 rubles ($7,000), although the construction also has a list of friendly sponsors among construction material companies and a host of volunteers.
Now built, the shelter will be used for lectures and talks until Feb. 27.
“The other function of the City Festivals is to foster communication between all Russian architects,” Ovchinnikov said. “Architects from Vladivostok don’t get the opportunity to meet and get new information from other architects, but festivals attract them and they can join and share experiences and opinions.”
At the end of the festival, the shelter will be disassembled and moved to another spot for reassembling.
Last year, the summer version of the festival took place on the island of Corfu where teams of architects were set the task of creating a building on the theme of an ancient or modern philosophy and creating a “sun city.”
Over the last six years, more than 400 objects have been built at the festivals.