colorful hand drawing of geometric volumes

Future100: Polina Kulikova Explores the Emotional and Social Dimensions of Architecture

Through various visual media, this undergraduate architecture student draws from both Russian Constructivism and her personal lineages.

Russian-born Polina Kulikova draws influence from the particularly eloquent delineations of heavyweight architects like Zaha Hadid, Paul Rudolph, and Louis Kahn. For her, standard drawings, plans, and elevations don’t always express the full range of movements and feelings that environments encapsulate. Trained in the fine arts from a young age, the University of Southern California undergraduate architecture student prefers hand drawings to modeling software. In conceiving organically layered housing complexes, geometrically clustered museums, and spinelike bridges, Kulikova draws from Russian Constructivism and Suprematism but, perhaps most importantly, from the civil engineer grandfather who helped raise her. She believes that architecture, art, and design are inextricably linked, especially when it comes to communicating emotions and memory, but also the sociopolitical currents that shape the built environment. 

Her speculative projects are situated in her native Samara, Russia, and her adoptive Los Angeles. While Street Corner depicts the urban decay of the former, she developed Share the Jungle with the latter in mind. In this exploration, Kulikova delved deep into L.A.’s housing crisis and its lack of shared community facilities in underprivileged areas. Her co-living concept incorporates living pods with shared facilities and a multipurpose cultural center. “My biggest pet peeve is how gate-kept the profession is both in theory and in practice,” she reflects. “Real estate developers care very little about the social or environmental impact of their work. They tend to use bad design to make more money and price people out. Architecture should be for everyone.” 

rendering of an urban infill project
Above: Kulikova’s Share the Jungle proposal is a response to the overcrowding and overpopulation of Los Angeles. The co-living project incorporates individual living “pods” that can be configured in various arrangements for eating, sleeping, cooking, socializing, and storage.
Top: When it comes to architecture and design, “I draw from my experience of the world as an artist, first and foremost,” Kulikova says. “Our built environments have the power to profoundly shape our feelings, memories, and well-being.” COURTESY POLINA KULIKOVA

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