'Participation in the SRPC Gave Me a Sense of Confidence'
Anastasia Markova is a fourth-year student of the Bachelor's programme 'Design'. During her studies, she has conducted several visual research projects, one of which took third place in the Student Research Paper Competition. Anastasia told the HSE News Service about her decision to participate and finding sources and illustrations for her research.
Studies at HSE University-St Petersburg
I am a student of the Bachelor's programme 'Design'. I chose it because I am keen on the interior designs of residential and non-residential premises. While studying, I took an interest in architecture (constructivism and brutalism). I then conducted a visual study on architecture, and now it is one of my favourite topics.
A visual study is one based on visual context. In simple terms, we examine numerous images on one topic and look for interrelations between them. A paper consists of a theoretical part where we make a hypothesis, study scientific literature, then develop theses and sum up the results.
We started conducting such studies in the second year. This year, I will study the post-revolutionary redevelopment of buildings in Leningrad. I also examined fashion shows by Alexander McQueen and how prostheses can become objects of art.
Decision to Participate
I learnt about the Student Research Paper Competition (SRPC) from my Art History lecturer. On this course, we can get a 'ten' only for those works which can be published or implemented. The SRPC gives us such an opportunity, so the lecturers suggest that we take part in it. Before any research is sent, it has to pass the commission of the Faculty of Art History, and we get some advice about what can be improved. However, not all papers are recommended by the commission—this happened to my research. But I liked my topic a lot, so I decided to take the risk.
Choice of Topic
I chose the topic for the visual research myself based on my interests. I was born in Siberia. In our area, there are still a lot of old buildings, including log huts. They are not demolished—people still live in many of them. I have always wanted to understand which ancient principles of space arrangement could be adopted by modern designers.
Search for Sources
My sources were literature covering the principle of hut arrangement in ancient Russia and how planning solutions from the past are reinterpreted in the modern world. I looked for almost all the scientific literature on the internet because there were no books on my topic in the library. In most cases, I also found illustrations on the internet. Moreover, I was inspired by real log huts which I saw in Siberia.
Writing the Paper
I spent several months writing the paper. My thesis supervisor was Pavel Ulyanov, Art History lecturer. We had a main deadline for handing in the finished paper, but I am of the opinion that you should always be in touch with the lecturer and consult them about your research. For instance, Mr Ulyanov advised me to change the paper's structure a little and confirmed that I had chosen good visuals, which gave me confidence.
Household Objects of Ancient Russia in the Modern World
Many household objects used in ancient Russia are implemented in modern interiors. For example, we know an 'etagere' as a 'sideboard'. The common root cellar originated as a 'storeroom', a room beneath the floor in a log hut where people stored supplies for winter. In ancient times, log huts had beds which were built near the ceiling next to the stove. These were called 'polaty'. Nowadays, you can find such sleeping places in modern flats where the bed is located above the kitchen. In other words, construction technologies have developed, but we still stick—perhaps, unconsciously—to design solutions from the past because they have been time-tested for centuries.
What I Realised
The main conclusion I arrived at from my research is that some methods used by architects and designers now had already been implemented before in the construction of huts and the planning of interior spaces.
For me, this paper was a little discovery and the starting point for an understanding of residential space. I figured out that in ancient times, a house or hut represented something intimate, like a fireplace. But in our world, this understanding, in my opinion, was lost long ago. In general, I got more out of this paper than I put into it.
Participation in the SRPC gave me a sense of confidence in what I am doing. I realised that my work does not go to waste, but can become the basis for further research. I still refer to the interconnection of things from ancient and modern times. I have become more observant; when I pass by different ancient buildings, I often notice particular design elements and try to find out or guess what role they play in shaping the general construction of the building. It helps to develop visual erudition.
Advice to Students
Firstly, I recommend choosing a topic you are truly keen on. When you conduct research on a boring topic, you waste a lot of effort and energy. For instance, I chose a field I had been interested in for a long time, so I had some thoughts and ideas even in my free time.
Secondly, you should consult a lecturer and send them your paper before the deadline so that you have enough time to correct it and change the structure if something goes wrong with the research.
Thirdly, before you send your paper to the SRPC, you should carefully study the competition rules and consult a lecturer about any possible changes in the design or structure of the paper.
The most important thing is to believe in yourself and your research and not to be afraid of participating in such competitions.