Tag Archives: moscow

Architecture Russia

Socialism in One Building: Moscow, 1930

 

The Commune-House on Ordzhonikidze street in south-central Moscow is one of those Soviet projects is a hidden gem of Soviet Rationalist architecture, with heavy Corbusian influences. Designed by Ivan Nikolayev when he was 27, it neatly encapsulates the ideological goals of the revolutionary avant-garde. take a look at the first and second floor plans:

Via sovarch

 

The Commune-House is not just a communal apartment. It’s a type that only flourished for a few years during the radical period of the Soviet Union, when architects saw a need to reproduce the collectivized society of the kolkhoz in urban settings. All of the employees of a bureaucracy, factory, or university would live and work together as a mass collective. The most famous is the Narkomfin Building, which was built to house the workers of the Commissariat of Finance. NarKomFin is an abbreviation of the Russian name.

This dormitory was built for the State Institute of Textiles, to be “socialism in one building,” where people would act collectively, in a mass. As a result, the building’s functions are completely segregated. The plan above shows how Nikolaev divided the building into three sections. One: a 200-meter-long, eight-story bar of 1000 10-square-foot apartments, each meant for two students. Two: a three-story building containing classrooms, a cafeteria, a library, and physical culture facilities. Three: Joining and perpendicular to the two main buildings was a “sanitary wing” containing all of the bathrooms, the showers, balconies for mass exercises, and a set of ramps.

So, the building is laid out much like an apartment, only at the scale of thousands of people. Emerging from their rooms at a set time, the students would perform a mass exercise, shower, dress, and proceed to classes. All food was prepared in the cafeteria, liberating women from “kitchen slavery.” All bedrooms had sliding doors, like train compartments, because privacy needed to be minimized. Compared to the Narkomfin building’s family units and distributed bathrooms and kitchens, Nikolaev’s building is much more radical.

Nikolaev described his program this way:

Eradication of coercion from a man’s life is the first step. Household collectivization and reorganization of study is the second. The third step is the improvement of hygiene and daily life. The fourth the transition to self-sustainence in the home and the mechanization of harvesting. The fifth step is the socialization of the child rearing.

This kind of attitude was common among theoreticians at the time. Unfortunately, it was unpopular with most of the public, who didn’t complain when the ideological underpinnings of mass housing changed under Stalin.

Aesthetically, I think Nikolaev captured the relentless uniformity as beautifully as possible on the exterior, but it is now just a shell. After years of neglect, the building is being restored, with 12-person suites containing bathrooms and kitchens.

Check out the original post at SovArch.

Also take a look at these photographs of the ruined building in 2007.

And, don’t forget the Nazi equivalent! Do you see why Leon Krier deems Nazi architecture modernist architecture?

Russia

Design the next Moscow Metro map

The City’s Department of Transportation has announced a contest to redesign the cartography of the Moscow Metro, one of the busiest and longest urban rail systems in the world. The impetus for the redesign seems to be the limitations of the current system diagram, which is light on information, and already quite dense with stations. More importantly, that map is about to get more confusing, because the Metro plans to grow 150% in size, with 70 stations to be added by 2025. So, there is a lot of material to work with.

I say cartography, because the brief asks for a tiered wayfinding system, where the diagram on the trains is expanded for each station to include relevant ground transportation and sites, at that particular station.

I am generally negative about designers doing work for free, but the restriction that this contest only be open to individuals ensures that the playing field is at least level, even if only one person is paid for the work that they do.

Submissions are due as PDFs by December 23rd, 2012.

 

 

 

Russia

Moscow’s lost trees

I love Moscow, but its downtown is barren of trees. Even when you get a prerevolutionary or constructivist break from the Stalinist promenade down Tverskaya, it’s just a little lifeless. But check out Ilya Varlamov‘s collection of photos of what Moscow looked like before its streets lost their trees. So much better.

Why, you might ask, did the trees all go? Well, zyalt says that the official answer is that they couldn’t take the pollution – but this is nonsense after the financial crises of the 90s.

At the end of the day, the answer is autocentrism. Trees interfered with parking, they posed security risks, and they took up potential lanes. Under the 1990s program of incoherent highway expansion, the last remnants of downtown greenery were torn up. If, on the other hand, Moscow had pursued a sustainable transportation policy before Sobyanin, the trees would have survived to serve the 80% of Muscovites who take public transport.

Maybe now is different. Check out the whole set, it’s remarkable what a difference there is.

planning Russia

In Moscow, a revolution for transportation

Велодорожки МГУ from Alexander Tugunov on Vimeo.

The city of Moscow opened its first on-street bike path in September. It’s a small sign of a strategic change in the urban development of a city that has become legendary for bad traffic.

According to the article, behavior on the trail isn’t perfect: people are parking in the bike path! Unthinkable! But, also unthinkably, the police has promised to enforce the laws and educate drivers. Now, when I lived in Moscow, I saw the city rip up Leningradsky Prospekt to convert it into a highway. That remains unchanged, but now dedicated trolleybus lanes will run along the highway. The entire transportation and land use strategies are being upended because the mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, and the Kremlin have realized that you cannot build yourself out of congestion with still more roads.

If there’s any doubt as to whether this is a token effort, Sobyanin’s comments here and there are explicit commitment to a complete transportation strategy. Take this interview on Lenta.ru:

SOBYANINThe easiest option we could offer is: “Let’s build more roads and interchanges, at two levels, three levels, and, sure, everything will be wonderful.”

Lenta.ru : Yes, like in Tokyo, Beijing and other Asian cities.

SOBYANIN: Yes, but it’s a dead end. It is impossible, even if we had a lot of money. And, there can never be enough money, because the building of highways and interchanges costing absurd sums.

That is just the beginning. There’s trams, trolleys, and a hundred miles of metro construction after the break.

read more »

Russia

Moscow Cycle Chic

The Cycle Chic network (of sorts) has introduced a new member, Moscow Cycle Chic. There’s not much of a cycling culture in Moscow, but hey, from the pictures, things are looking up! They also have a video. Good to see some change, but I think that pants will be necessary part of biking around the old onion. 

Other Russia

The Metronomicon

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A Russian artist and ad man named Alexei Andreev has been publishing some distinctly surreal photography recently regarding the Moscow Sankt-Peterburg Metro. Mostly, it hints at the perpetual creepiness of a dark subway and the complex relationship one always has with it. As much as it’s preternatural eeriness, it also reflects daily life a lot more than most architectural photography of the subway. The whole collection deserves a look, but not before a late night Metro ride.