Nikolai Miliutin’s Sotsgorod: The Problem of Building Socialist Cities (1930)

Translated from the Russian by Anatole Senkevich.

(MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 1974).

• • •


by N. Meshcheriakov

The unprecedented rapidity with which our country is being industrialized presents us with the question of creating new large-scale manufacturing centers as well as the necessity for intensified construction in those industrial cities than already exist.  Each year these problems become sharper and more pressing in direct proportion to the accelerated tempo of our industrialization.

However, in order to solve these questions of construction, we cannot travel along the old, well-worn paths of pre-Revolutionary Russia — paths which are still being followed in capitalist countries.  We cannot build according to those archaic methods which are inescapable where there is no single planned social economy, where every owner of a factory or apartment house can build wherever he fancies and however he chooses.  Our socialist building cannot and must not repeat all the mistakes and absurdities of the past.  A more rational construction of industrial enterprises and their contiguous residential areas is possible: that is the problem that faces us and for which, in solving, the outmoded methods and old plans are almost completely futile.

But there is another factor that makes the old model unacceptable for us.  In a capitalist society apartment houses are produced either in the interests of those wealthy persons who, having put up a building exclusively for themselves, then live there luxuriously, taking up gigantic spaces with their small families and arranging the house to their own capricious taste — or else it is built in the interests of those landlords who break it up into apartments and cruelly exploit the tenants.  In such houses all the interests of tenants and all questions of their comfort are sacrified to the greed of the landlord-exploiters.  Our constructions must be carried out only in the interests of the working people who are to live in them.

Finally, the ever-increasing drive toward collectivization of life impels us to build houses in an entirely different way than they have been up to this time and as they are still constructed in capitalist countries, where the basic economic unit is the family, each with its individual economy.

All this brings us to realize that these questions of new city building have become unusually acute in the last year.  During the winter of 1929-1930, they were frequently and heatedly discussed in a number of speeches and papers before various societies and institutions.  At the present time one notices everywhere tremendous interest in these questions.  In the future this interest will grow even more in proportion to the building of our cities and dwellings.


Unfortunately, we have hardly any literature on this subject.  It is almost entirely limited to short articles in newspapers and magazines.  It is, therefore, a great pleasure to welcome new books on the subject, especially when the author treats the problem from a position of real knowledge of the matter.

The present volume is of this category.  The author, N.A. Miliutin, has extensive knowledge of the subject, since he is the chairman of the government commission on the construction of new cities.

N.A.  Miliutin’s book is distinguished by two advantageous circumstances:

1.  Many writers, discussing questions of contemporary construction in the USSR, confuse two issues: the building of dwellings at the present time (a period of transition to socialism or of the beginning of socialism) and the planning to be done at a more distant date in the period of a fully developed socialist or even communist society.  This leads them into two kinds of errors.  On the one hand, they do not take into account the great progress in technques and transportation which will have been made in the future, but instead carry over into the future the same handicaps which we so keenly experience in the present; as a result of this their picture of the future assumes a dim and miserable character (for example, they retain in the socialist era the same crowded living conditions in dwellings which we, due to insufficient means, have to accept in the present).  On the other hand, in planning for both the present day and the near future, they make demands that cannot be fully realized at present (for example, the immediate and complete collectivization of life, the elimination of the family, etc.).  Comrade Miliutin’s book does not suffer from these drawbacks.  He says nothing about the far distant future.  He is only interested in those questions of constructions that are before us at the present time.  “In order to establish new principles for the residential sectors of Soviet settlements for our transitional epoch,” he writes, “we must first enunciate clearly those problems which will present themselves in the immediate years ahead.”  This clear distinction between the building of the near and distant futures saves Miliutin from a number of the mistakes of those visionary and fantastic projects of which many have been guilty in their discussions on the subject of planning during this past winter 1929-30.

2.  The second outstanding feature of N.A.  Miliutin’s book is the author’s solid knowledge of the subject at hand.  He presents the questions under discussion not in a general way, not as bare theoretical plans, but practically, accompanying his presentation with a number of examples and plans taken from actual life.  This aspect further enhances the interest and usefulness of the volume.

In view of all this, one must warmly recommend N.A.  Miliutin’s book to all who desire to familiarize themselves with the issue of our new building, with the problems that it involves, and with the devices and resources which may bring about its practical realization.

N.  Meshcheriakov



This book by no means pretends to offer an exhaustive solution to all problems concerned in the planning of settlements in the USSR.  We have set ourselves the task of formulating in specific terms only those requirements of Soviet construction that result from the analysis of K. Marx, F. Engels, and V.I. Lenin.  We must carefully evaluate the basic technical and material capabilities which we have at our disposal at present and make, if only in outline form, some first concrete decisions about dwellings for the workers in this first stage of socialism.

In making our decisions we have tried to adhere strictly to the method of Marxist analysis, keeping constantly in mind the basic (overall) problems that face us, and the specific social relationships, the level of technology, and the availability of materials under present conditions in the USSR.

To solve many questions we found it necessary to examine all available publications on new achievements in the technology of construction, and also to analyze carefully the ideas of outsanding architects, including the Constructivists (in particular, the works of Le Corbusier, Gropius, Ginzburg, Vesnin, Leonidov, et al.).  We have also had to examine a considerable number (more than 50) competition entries on the construction of socialist cities as worked out by both Soviet and foreign architects.

In addition, the author, as chairman of the government commission on the planning of socialist cities, has become intimately acquainted with all basic literature on the subject and has heard out a number of opinions and discussions of it from the most diverse points of view.

Finally, we have become familiar in particular with a number of works and studies by Gosplan, Narkomzdrav, and Narkompros, which deal with aspects of the problem.

If what we are introducing in this work has any originality, it is due only to the extreme paucity in our country of serious works on questions of the new way of life and the new architecture.

The same situation has involved us in carrying out for our book a number of special works, involving the designing of projects, programs, and plans for buildings, and tables of statistics.

During the preparation of this book we became firmly convinced of the necessity for creating a special experimental institute for urban design which, if properly organized, could represent a saving of many millions of rubles annually.

Nikolai Miliutin



We suffer not only from the living, but from the dead.

—   K. Marx, Capital

Dialectics treats things and their intellectual reflections, most importantly in their interrelationships, their linkage, their movement, their emergence and disappearances.

— F. Engels

In light of the Five-Year Plan and, therefore, even more so for those of longer range, the problem of construction of settlements in the USSR takes on an exceptional significance.  The fate of billions of rubles for new construction depends on how and what we decide to build.  Suffice it to say that in the current Five-Year Plan, as much as 15 to 20 billion rubles are required for even one non-industrial construction.

Hundreds of new settlements are being created; vast construction is taking place in existing cities; the construction of agricultural cities [agrogoroda] as a nucleus for large-scale state farms [sovkhozy] and for the complete collectivization of entire districts and provinces is being considered.

The massive reconstruction of the economy on socialist principles inexorably demands a reconstruction in culture and in our way of life.  Appreciable numbers of workers and peasants even now are not satisfied with the existing conditions of life.  Our daily struggle to root out the remains of capitalism in the economy and the great successes we have attained in this pursuit have opened the eyes of wide masses of the laboring class to the abominations of the petty bourgeois way of life, for “after the revolution, millions of people will learn more in a week than in an ordinary year of the old somnolent life.” (Lenin)

The reconstruction of our way of life on new socialist principles is the next problem facing the Soviet Union.

Along with this, we are confronted with the overall problem of sanitary and health improvements in settlements throughout the USSR; nor can we allow the kind of criminal anarchy in construction procedures that characterizes the capitalist world.  The Soviet village must be built in such a way as not to perpetuate the very conditions we are struggling against, but rather to create the basis for organization of a new socialist, collective way of life.

The millions of rubles we spend on our housing and socialist construction must serve the cause of inculcating the new way of life, i.e., the socialist system for the care of cultural and living conditions among the population, which is a necessary precondition to the freeing of women from [51] domestic slavery.  The problem is perfectly stated by V.I. Lenin in the following words:

Woman continues to remain a domestic slave in spite of all our liberating laws, for she is weighed down, stupefied, and humiliated by petty domestic tasks which chain her to the kitchen and to her nurseries, rob her of her effectiveness by viciously wasteful, nerve-wracking, strangling, stultifying work.  The real liberation of woman, the real communism, will begin only when and where begins the struggle (led by the proletariat which derives its power from the State) against this petty domestic economy or, more accurately, with a massive restructuring of our economy into a large-scale socialist one.

In the meantime, we are not only building dwellings according to the old merchants’ concept, but even the construction of our cities goes on most often according to old-fashioned (traditional) methods.  The distinguishing features of this type of construction are: the small family apartment, designed for individual maintenance in all respects, and the historical city laid out around a central market.

The most characteristic example of this type of construction is our own capital, Moscow, where, in spite of the tremendous wastes involved, we have not built anything basically new and where until now all construction still gravitates toward Kitaigorod, i.e., the ancient market.

The attempt to depart from these forms of city building by erecting skyscrapers is basically a mechanical copying of the usual capitalist forms of residential arrangement.  The skyscrapers are the peak — the last cry of capitalism.  Interspersed throughout the city, they change nothing in its way of life, in the edification of the masses, or in production.  The skyscraper both expresses and finalizes the idea of capitalist centralization, deriving as it does from the concentration of trade and production in large centers.  These centers spring up independently of the presence of natural resources or of power facilities, because capitalist cities have popped up primarily as a function of a market or trade route and not at all in connection with the productive process.

All these principles of the anarcho-capitalist system of city building must be decisively repudiated as being in no way related to the problems of reconstructing our economy and to the way of life based on socialist principles.

We must shrug off this “historical legacy” unequivocally.

It should be all the more easy for us to do this since the fund for municipalization (i.e., the assets at the disposal of the city and village soviets) is at present about 11 billion rubles.  In view of the tens of billions of rubles, which, due to new planning principles, will be available in the next few years, it is evident that any other course would be criminal sabotage, not only in considering future generations but so that present-day youth, too, can leave behind the rotten old stoves and dusty beds of their grandfathers’ era.

Finally, the exceptionally high cost to us of building houses and communities forces us to seek a radical cutting of all costs by changing a number of deeply ingrained principles (actually prejudices) in our construction methods.  Without solving this problem we will be unable to eliminate overcrowding, one of the most serious obstacles in the cause of socialist construction and the reconstruction of our way of life.

“The organization of the advance of socialism on all fronts” (I. Stalin) must also signify an advance in the struggle for a new and healthy life for the working class.


The task consists of the necessity of continuing an implacable struggle on two fronts.

— I. Stalin, Speech at the XVI Party Congress

In this matter, as in a great many others, there is under the present circumstances a double danger.  On the one hand there is a sluggish and conservative resistance to each fresh thought and idea on the part of the representatives of more conservative tendencies within our apparatus.  On the other hand, there can be distractions and proposals which in the given situation are unreal and fantastic.

— S.I. Syrtsov, Speech at a Conference on the Question of the Construction of Socialist Cities, 11 February 1930

It would be groundless and foolish for us today to solve the problem of our settlements by thinking of them as future residential areas under fully developed socialism.  We have now neither the technology nor the material means that will be developed in the future to do this.  It is only necessary to glance bock at the utopian socialist settlements of the middle ages to see that they reflect precisely the economic and social conditions as well as the technological conditions in which men lived at that time.  Thus, one of the great utopians in the sixteenth century thought of the socialist city as a fortified city, beginning a new era in which young people (!) could take a bath once a month (!) and change their underlinen!

Things are no better in contemporary attempts to describe the city of the future.  As A.V. Lunacharskii writes in Revolution and Culture, No. 1, 1930:

Thus the general character of the socialist city will present itself as a disciplined unit of great diversity.  In the center of the main square (we are discussing a typical city) will be concentrated all the buildings in which is located the real heart of the entire city (!).  Here will be the greatest monumentality (!), the greatest variety of forms.  This will be the architectural center-of-gravity of the city.  From here in radii (!) and rings (!) will be arranged the wide streets (!) by gardens, boulevards, special squares, pools of water, fountains, etc.  From the center will spread these communal dwelling houses, also monumental (!), built in such a way as to clearly, but (!) with variety, divide its internal essence, i.e., that arrangement whereby the industrial living quarters will be arranged around their


plan for the future socialist city, was prisoner of the aristocratic Russian Empire, with its individual “hearts,” “monumentality,” “rings and radii,” etc.

We will leave it to the novelists to draw the pictures of the city of the future under developed socialism.  Today, in the words of Goethe, “it is as much a secret for fools as for sages.” Today we are interested in our contemporary construction on the basis of contemporary technology and the material means presently at our disposal. We must keep in mind that the problem of “overtaking and surpassing” the capitalist countries is one of strengthening the defense capabilities of a proletarian state that is surrounded by an inimical capitalist world-and a problem of making over both our industry and our agriculture.  These problems force us to limit in every way possible those resources that might otherwise be used to satisfy consumer demands.

From this it inevitably follows that in trying by all possible means to solve the problems of budding a new way of life and to achieve new forms for the construction of settlements, we must seek those procedures which will allow of a solution to these problems without any proportional increase in expenditures.

Along with this, we must start from the prevailing wage level of the workers.  It would be possible to come up with a lovely plan for a socialist dwelling unit which in actuality would be completely impractical and unrealistic since it would in no way correspond to the standard of living available to us today

In this way the problem of building socialist settlements today is primarily reduced to the root and basically new rationalization of constructing and reconstructing our way of life on the basis of those material means which are at our disposal at the present time.

However, this in no sense means that we must reconcile ourselves to an animal level of dwelling existence in which wallows the major part of the working class of the rest of the world and a significant proportion of the workers of the USSR.  Any such interpretation of our current problems must be refuted with the some resolve we would use to meet any other reactionary postures.  “The establishment of socialism in our country cannot help but entail the systematic betterment of the material condition of the workers.” (I. Stalin). The masses of workers and peasants must see that the dictatorship of the proletariat not only opens before them the broadest perspective, into the future but also brings a real, actual raising of the standard of living and of the level of culture, and reinvigorates and reconditions the tenor of their life.  Any different solution to this question (as once expounded by certain Trotskyites) would be, objectively speaking (i.e., regardless of what one wished) a reactionary one.

While raising the tempo of accumulation in the country (capital investments in agriculture) we must simultaneously raise the living standard of the laborer.  The basis for this should be the increase in labor productivity and the socialist rebuilding of our economy and way of life.

In this way and only in this way can the question of the establishment of a new social milieu in the USSR be resolved.



Any social revolution must take things as it finds them and immediately eliminate the most glaring abuses.

— F. Engels

In the western press today and among outstanding modern architects, a lively discussion is going on: should cities be built according to principles of concentration (centralization) of industry and trade at a few points (urbanization) or — the other way round — should it be done by dispersing industry and residential areas over as wide a territory (area) as possible by building small settlements and separating the living quarters from the industry (‘garden cities,” “green cities,” etc.)?

The partisans of one or the other point of view, as a general rule, proceed from an idea that is based on economic relationships which they accept as being immutable.  The bourgeois architect can, of course, see things no other way.

For him there is only the irrefutable premise of the capitalist system and its laws, with its reckless exploitation of the proletariat, its disregard for the most elementary needs of the laboring masses, and its brutish standard of living.

The terrifying living conditions of workers in capitalist countries, where they are deprived even of light and air and where their children spend their lives in dirty backyards near garbage dumps, give rise among the better bourgeois architects, to the liberals’ ideas of “green cities,” “garden cities,” etc.

However, we understand perfectly well that these ideas, in spite of all their alluring qualities, are a pure and, what’s more, evil utopia, creating the illusion (false representation) of a possible escape from the situation without doing away with the capitalist system.  These illusions blunt the proletarian’s will to fight.  Capitalism gives the workers just enough to keep them from dying from starvation.  The capitalist is not interested in how long a worker can survive under these barbaric life conditions into which he is driven; the reserve army of the unemployed is always at his service.  “Disurbanization” is unthinkable under the capitalist system.

Urbanists, aware of the impossibility of disurbanization under capitalism, try to find a solution to the problem of reinvigorating life by means of technological services within the big cities.  Sewer systems, water works, multilevel streets, green areas and similar nice things — that is the way of the urbanists.

However, life itself turns their schemes [55] inside out in its own way.  The reinvigorated quarters, as Engels already noted, are not actually lived in by the proletariat, because their life denies them the means to afford it.

These controversies between the urbanists and disurbanists are also reflected here, assuming at times rather amusing forms.

We must, however, phrase the whole problem differently. The question of restricted land for big cities is inapplicable here since we have destroyed private ownership of the land.

Any ideas about the necessity for maximum (more rational) use of “communally serviceable” areas is simply comical, since no such areas exist here.

But most important is the tremendous problem of the elimination of the differences between the city and the country.

This is why we must review the very meaning of the word “city.”

The modern city is a product of a mercantile society and will die together with it, merging into the socialist industrialized countryside.  The problem has been presented by V.I. Lenin in the following way:

[The problem is] the unification of industry with agriculture on the basis of a conscious application of science, the combination of collective labor and a new distribution of mankind (with the elimination of rural desolation, its isolation from the rest of the world, is wildness, as well as the unnatural crowding of enormous masses into big cities).


Karl Marx, in his Manifesto of the Communist Party, formulates this problem in this way:

The combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, the gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country.

Finally, F.  Engels, in his exceptionally valuable book, The Housing Question, says:

There is no sense in trying to solve the housing question by trying to preserve our big cities.  The elimination of the difference between the city and the country is no more nor less utopian than the elimination of the difference between the capitalist and the hired worker.  Each day it comes nearer being a practical necessity for both industrial and agricultural economy…Only as uniform a distribution of the population as possible over the whole country, only an integral connection between industrial and agricultural production together with the thereby necessary extension of the means of communication — presupposing the abolition of the capitalist mode of production — would be able to tear the rural population out of the isolation and stupor in which it has vegetated for millennia.  It is not utopian to declare that the complete emancipation of humanity from the chains which its historic past has forged will only be complete when the antithesis between the town and country has been abolished; the utopia begins only when someone undertakes from existing relationships (Engels has in view, of course, the capitalist conditions.  — N.  M.) to prescribe the form in which this or any other antithesis of present day society (capitalist — N.  M.) is to be solved.

In this way, socialist settlements will differ markedly from that which we see today in our city or countryside: they will be neither the one nor the other.

For us there can be no controversy about urbanization or disurbanization.  We will have to settle the problem of the new redistribution of humanity after we have eliminated that senseless (for us) centralization of industrial production which gives birth to the modern city.

With the elimination of centralization (concentration) of production the notion of the centralization of habitation (the city) falls away, and consequently so do ideas about “garden cities,” etc.

On the other hand, we will do away with the extreme isolation of the country, which engenders the isolation and wildness of the rural population.  This elimination, again, will ensue not from our settling the argument about the “principle” of urbanization, but from the mechanization of agriculture, which inevitably leads to a strengthening and a certain amount of concentration.

The city and the town stretch out their hands to one another: thus will these arguments be solved.



Civilization has left us the legacy of huge cities, and to get rid of them will cost us much in time and effort.  But it will be necessary to get rid of them, and this will be done.

— F. Engels

Existing cities were created in the interests of the ruling classes, the enemies of the proletariat.  These cities sprang up on the basis of trade capital and were laid out on trade routes which, in most instances, have lost their function today.  As a result, existing cities, as a rule, are not particularly related to natural resources of raw materials and to centers of power.  Industrial construction in these cities derived least of all from the interests of their population; instead it has concentrated around markets which have also lost their previous significance.  There was, of course, no question of planning.  In choosing sites for new construction, we are forced to reject categorically the mechanical following of tradition in the selection of administrative, industrial, and other such centers.  We must proceed from an assessment of the economic, political, and natural conditions that give us the most expedient solution to the building problem in each instance.  This is why our growing tendency to build new installations where there are already existing cities and villages containing similar establishments must definitely be stopped.

The possibility and necessity of settling this question was shown by V.I. Lenin in the following words:

At the present lime, when the transmission of electrical energy over long distances is possible and when the technology of transportation is improved, there are absolutely no technical obstacles to resettling the population more or less evenly over the entire country, and still taking advantage of the treasure houses of science and art which have for centuries accumulated in only a few centers.

Any piling up of separate enterprises at one point, when the processes involved are not directly interconnected, must be immediately curtailed because of its obvious inexpediency.

New construction must be carried out as a unified and economically complete industrial combine which will insure more economic use of raw materials, of waste materials, of accessory energy, etc.  In addition, each of these new undertakings must be judiciously coordinated with its residential zones and the corresponding auxiliary commodity sources (dairies, private vegetable and flower gardens, collective farms [kolkhozy], state farms [sovkhozy], farms [fermy], etc.).  In this way, at the basis of [62] the solution to the problem of the choice of sites for new construction must lie the creation not of industrial and other centers, but of productive-agrarian centers which will be the basis for creating the populated settlement with its corresponding cultural, social, scientific, educational, and other similar institutions and collateral enterprises.

Only with this solution to the question of the choice of sites for new construction will we be able to proceed to the decision of how to redistribute mankind on the basis of socialist production. It must be remembered that if the pivot for capitalist economy is the market and its laws, then the pivot for socialist economy must be production and its planning.

Does it follow from this that the now-existing cities, settlements, etc., as well as routes of communication, must be altogether ignored? Of course not.  In a number of cases extant sites will be satisfactory for the conditions we are establishing for socialist production.  More than that, the existing means of communication are as needed as the air we breathe.  However, it does not follow that they must determine the locations for new construction.  The immense investments we are now making in arteries of communication make it possible for us to choose on economically more expedient approach, and this lowers (but does not eliminate) our dependence on extant routes for the choice of new sites.  It is highly likely that, with time, the technical development of air communication will put the problem in a new light.  However, today, if we do not wish to lose contact altogether with reality and lapse into the visionary, we must in no case drop off into fantasy but keep both feet solidly on the ground.

We cannot throw into the trash basket indiscriminately everything which we have inherited from the past.  We must transform and assimilate this heritage in such a way as to have it serve our purpose and not interfere with its realization. We must not forget for one minute that the elimination of the differences between the city and the country is one of the first conditions for collectivization (K.  Marx).

From this, the conclusion must be drawn that the construction of new enterprises, of scientific and special educational institutions, etc., in existing cities can only be permitted where there exists a direct productive linkage between these new undertakings and those already in existence in the settlement-as well as the presence of raw materials and power supplies.  The pros and “cons’ must be carefully weighed in the choice of the site.  One must not repeat those mistakes made when we added to a trifling shop worth from 100,000 to 200,000 rubles, a plant, by way of “reconstruction,” that was worth some millions of rubles.  In this way we spoiled both the old shop and the new plant.

In any case, expansion of existing settlements, if it turns out to be absolutely necessary, must be done either by creating satellite towns, or by replanning these settlements, or (in extreme instances for particularly large cities) replanning their separate parts. This replanning must be based on those principles by which we build new settlements, i.e., affording maximum dispersion of the population, creating the premises for the organization of a new of life, improvement of these cities by freeing large areas for the planting of greenery, etc.  No matter what happens must avoid being strangled by the dead past.  It is therefore inadmissible to make significant capital investment in the old cities without formulating a general preparatory scheme for the reconstruction of these cities and settlements.

Only then will we have avoided the great and useless (and, it follows, harmful) wastes of undertaking new construction in old settlements.

A few words about architectural construction.  The problem of abolishing the distinction between industrial and agricultural production, as well as the problem of the industrialization of agriculture, is understood by many comrades to signify the installation of a variety of small-scale industrial enterprises within sovkhozy and kolkhozy.

Putting it this way reveals a misunderstanding of the question.  The slogan “industrialization of agriculture” first of all means mechanization of the process, and not propagation of small-scale industry throughout the countryside. All the advantages of large-scale mechanized production (industrial as well as agricultural) must be exploited fully.  The combining of the advantages of city and village life must be brought about through a “new distribution of mankind” (Lenin) and not through a propagation af small-scale handicrafts throughout the countryside.

Integration of the production of agricultural row materials and their processing to a single enterprise must be allowed only in cases where it would be economically ex pedient (for example, in the sugar and distilling [63] industries, in the initial processing of market-garden products, of milk, etc.).

General conclusions: in choosing sites for new construction, priority must be given to the interests of the proper organization of production (both industrial and agricultural), while taking into account the interests of the population at the same time.  We must not follow mechanically the lines of existing cities and transportation arteries, nor must we pile up on one spot a variety of undertakings that are not connected by their industrial processes; we must solve correctly the problem of inter-relating industry and agriculture on the basis of the redistribution of mankind.



In big cities, people suffocate, as Engels puts it, in their own excrement.

— Lenin

If we examine a properly planned large-scale, steam-operated electric power station, we see the following picture: directly next to the transportation lines are located the reserve fuel dumps; next in line are the boiler installations, supplied with fuel by elevators, conveyors, etc.; beyond this line of boilers are the machines which transform the steam into mechanical energy; behind these steam engines are placed the dynamos which produce electric energy; further along are the distribution switchboards, beyond them the transformer — and still further, the transmission lines

By laying out the installation this way, we keep machines of one type on clear-cut lines, thereby greatly shortening all the transmission and distribution lines for fuel, steam, and energy.  Moreover, the system allows for general servicing of analogous installations by appropriate crews and of their subsidiary elements such as approach routes, conveyors, air filters, steampipe lines, valves, etc.  Finally, thanks to this same system, the expansion of the station is facilitated by means of a corresponding parallel construction of entire aggregates as parts of the whole system.

If such a station were to be built in helter-skelter fashion, that is, according to no system at all, then one can easily imagine what chaos would ensue, with increases in the price of equipment, in maintenance, etc.

It is precisely this chaos, multiplied thousands of times, that we have in contemporary cities.  Here we find industry and residential areas located side by side; beyond them, new apartment houses; further on a hospital, another factory; then, somewhere else, a transportation line, more residences, administrative institutions, and so on and so forth.  This chaotic condition complicates inter-urban transportation and increases the cost of communication routes; it complicates the layout of sewer systems and water supplies, dirties the city, poisons the air and the earth.  The increased rates of illness and death in the large modern city, the huge and wasteful expense on inter-urban transportation of freight and passengers, the high cost of communal services, etc.  — this forces the issue of radical change in the principles of city planning.

We are led to the same by even the most cursory acquaintance with today’s method of planning towns and population aggregates as a combination of private dwellings and apartment blocks.  We must eradicate this system, since it grew out of private ownership of the land — which we have done away with — since it requires an utterly wasteful surveying of each plot, and finally, since it also splits the economy and the territory of the various parts of the settlement, which exceedingly complicates any general solutions.

We must approach each site as a unified whole in which the basic elements are as rationally and expediently distributed as possible; these include industrial and agricultural production, transportation, power, administration, general living conditions, upbringing of children, and education.

Therefore, in the projecting of new settlements or the replanning of existing ones (including their individual parts), the following major objectives must be unconditionally guaranteed:

1.  It is absolutely necessary that productive units be rationally united with one another and with major transportation routes. In addition it will be absolutely necessary to consider the most economical flow (the shortest, and where possible, the most direct lines) in the organization of the processes of production for the entire combine and also in the linkage of the units of production [65] with the communes, with the dwellings, and with the other similar parts of settlements.

A flowing functional-assembly-line system is the absolutely necessary basis for new planning.

2.  The residential sector (zone) of the settlement (the communal, residential, children’s, and similar buildings or institutions) must be set up parallel to the productive one and must be separated from it by a green belt (buffer zone).  This protective strip must be no less than 500 meters wide, and must be increased depending on local conditions and the character of the production.

Only under these conditions, without the superfluous expense for intersettlement transportation, can we arrive at that point where a worker’s home will be situated no more than 10-20 minutes’ walk from his machine (place of work) and which will allow him all the advantages of village life (air, forest, fields).

3.  Railroad lines must be laid out behind the production zone, i.e., behind the line of industrial buildings, while the highway should be between the productive and residential zones (in the green belt).  On the one hand, this insures the free deployment of production and transportation lines on the side opposite the residential area of the settlement and, on the other hand, it insures inter-settlement tion by automobile (buses, etc.).  In addition, railroad stations and warehouses will be placed between the railroad lines and highways for the best servicing of the needs of both production areas and the settlement.

4.  The most desirable placement for agricultural territory (dairy forms, horticultural sovkhozy, bee forms, etc.) is out past the residential areas of the settlement. This would provide the following advantages: sovkhoz workers will live in the same settlement; night soil could be directed to the fields by the shortest possible and greatly simplified means; products would be transported to the residential zone from the railroad stations and warehouses by the shortest possible routes.

5.  The necessary sites for special buildings for secondary and higher technical and agricultural educational institutions must be situated in the area used by the corresponding activity; and, where applicable, this should also apply to the placement of administrative institutions (with institutions teaching economics dose by) and hospitals (with the medical faculties close by), etc.

Such an arrangement simplifies the problem of the rebuilding of educational institutions along the line of their corresponding industry when “education and labor will be united” (F.  Engels).  By the unification of educational institutions with production laboratories, work shops, fields, libraries, archives, etc., we will not only achieve significant economies, but will also make possible the great idea of turning an industry into a school.  Every male and female worker (including the cook in factory kitchens, the hospital attendant, the courier in Soviet institutions, the shepherd on the sovkhoz) will have the opportunity to become an engineer, surgeon, economist, agronomist, etc., in the course of his or her usual work.

This prospect of uninterrupted intellectual growth will create such an enthusiasm in the widest sector of the population, such an increase in energy and a will to work and to learn as the capitalist world does not dare even to dream of!

6.  Medical institutions must be divided into 2 groups: a system of separate dispensaries and of hospitals.

The dispensaries must be situated in the residential zone, but the hospitals must be out toward the border of the settlement in more salutary locales. These latter institutions must be built on the pavilion system and, in addition, must not only be hospital-schools but also polymedical clinics that would include hospitals, sanatoriums, scientific institutes, etc.  The expediency of this type of organization cannot be disputed.

7.  School buildings (for the first seven years) must be connected with the corresponding children’s dormitories, which, in turn, should be organized along pioneer lines (like camps).

At the same time, these institutions must be very closely connected to cultural-social institutions (clubs, libraries, etc.) and production activities.  This is the means whereby we will attain the situation  —

that will, in the case of every child over a given age, combine productive labor with instruction and gymnastics, not only as one of the methods of adding to the effciency of production, but as the only method of producing fully developed human beings (Karl Marx, Kapital).

At the same time this will enable the interaction between themselves of various generations of the population on the basis of work and culture, since the present influence of the family on upbringing must be gradually replaced by the influence of the collective.  It is self-evident that any attempt to effect a solution to this problem mechanically must be rejected.  However, in the new territorial arrangement for population settlements, we must take this problem fully in to account in order not to hinder life where it is ripening for the development of new forms.

We must take into account the fact that the tempo of our reconstruction of the economy cannot bypass nor disregard our standard of living.  Any attempts at hindrance to this would clearly be reactionary.

8.  Proceeding from the most rational solution to the problem of services for the whole settlement (or its parts), communal undertakings involving production must be situated in the productive zone.  Moreover, the unity of the communal economy must be unconditionally guaranteed.  It would be inadmissible if these enterprises were to solve this problem independent of the community services (the separate fire depots dining halls, water supplies, etc.).

9.  Warehouses must also be situated in the productive zone, in immediate proximity to railway terminals or corresponding activities.

10.  The consideration must be met that in the future, in step with the construction of new buildings, “all unsound and badly built homes and apartments will be destroyed” (K.  Marx-F.  Engels, Communist Manifesto).

In this way, the planning of new settlements and the replanning of existing ones amounts to setting up the zones for the future settlement on the basis of a clearly worked out, most economical plan for movement of goods and people, and a layout for the basic linear system.

These zones should be laid out in the following order:

1) area for railroad lines (segregated band);

2) area (zone) of production and communal enterprises, warehouses, station emplacements, and related scientific, technical, and educational institutions;

3) green belt (buffer zone) with major highway;

4) residential zone where, in turn, will be laid out:

a) a band of social institutions (dining halls, dispensaries, meeting quarters of the town-village soviets, etc.);

b) a band of residential buildings;

c) a children’s band, i.e.  nurseries, kindergartens, dormitories;

5) park zone with institutions for recreation: ball fields, swimming pools, etc.;

6) zone for garden and dairy sovkhozy (irrigated fields, farms, and similar agricultural enterprises).

No alterations in the internal order of these six basic zones of different purpose should be tolerated under any circumstances since it would not only destroy the overall plan but would hamper the development of each part (the growth of the settlement), would create unsanitary living conditions, and would deprive us of those tremendous advantages which the functional-assembly-line system affords.

In determining the layout of the various zones special attention must be paid to extant bodies of water and to the direction of the prevailing winds.

A solution must be sought which would place these bodies of water (rivers, lakes, large ponds, etc.) on the side of the residential zone. This will not only be an attractive addition to the settlement and will afford a space for parks along their banks for vacation institutions, ball parks, etc., but it also has great sanitary and hygienic significance.

The matter of prevailing winds must be handled in such a way that prevailing winds blow from the residential side toward the industrial, and not vice versa.

It is self-evident that when we speak of “lines,” “bands,” and “zones” of construction, we have in mind not absolutely straight lines but linear zones which are adjusted to the local topography and to convenient communication.  It should be noted, however, that local variations of topography do not play an important role in the layout of most of these zones of settlements.


In this respect, we are subject to a number of misconceptions.  For example, it is usual to think that the site for the construction must necessarily be level, forgetting that there are numerous productive processes which depend on vertical or inclined flow (even within the building).  It can even be advantageous to place residential and social buildings on hills: for instance, it is convenient to place theatres and auditoriums on an incline.  The eccentricities in the configuration of a site are a help and not an obstacle to a keen engineer and architect.

The reason for variations in the lines and layout can be: rivers, transportation, swamps, etc.  — but not the desire to obtain a smooth surface which no one needs in the first place.


For purposes of illustration, let us take three plans of Magnitogorsk.

a) The plan for Magnitogorsk that was accepted in competition (Fig. 8 ) has the following shortcomings:

1) the factory territory is heaped in one lump; there is nowhere to expand;

2) the railroad lines cut off the factories from the residential areas;

3) the institute of higher learning is separated from the factory;

4) the Soviet institutions are also cut off;

5) the distance to work for half the workers will be more than 3 km, reaching as high as 4 and even 7 for some;

6) the residential area is also heaped in a lump.  One cannot even speak about contact with rural life;

7) the water basin (Ural River) is not used at all for the settlement;

8 ) the streets ore overextended due to the rectangular layout;

9) the influence of wind blowing from the factory to the settlement has not been entirely eliminated.


b) The plan proposed by OSA (Fig.  9):

1) as regards the planning of the factory and communication routes, this scheme suffers from the same deficiencies as the one accepted in the competition [Fig. 8],

2) the distance to work for the majority of the inhabitants is more than 6 km and reaches 21 km, which means significant wastes in intersettlement transport with probably doubtful results;

3) the residential section is ideally planned, with the exception that the water basin of the Ural River is not utilized.

c) The plan proposed by Stroikom has two major shortcomings (Fig. 10):

1) the distance to work from the homes is form 2 to 21 km;

2) the water basin is hardly utilized.

In other respects the plan is completely satisfactory.


d) Our own proposal for a plan according to the functional-assembly-line system (Fig. 11) is o correction of the plans of OSA and Stroikom, and is devoid of their shortcoming.  The longest distance from work is 1½ km, and for most workers it is 500-700 m.

The village is all in greenery and runs along the bank of the Ural, which is dammed to form a lake; special quarters for the technical and higher institutions of learning are near the production centers; the station is in the center of the settlement along with cultural and Soviet institutions.  From windows of the residential buildings only the park or the river is visible.

A hospital (laid out in pavilion form) is situated on the bank of the river.

The railroad runs behind the factories and is from 1-2 km away from the residential area.

This plan reveals eloquently the advantages of the functional-assembly-line system from all points of view, without exception.


We see the same situation in the plans for Stalingradtraktorstroi (see Figs. 12-14).

Taking the functional-assembly-line system as our basis for the planning of settlements, we can solve the problem of the most rational and economic arrangement of the transportation.  A number of construction (viaducts, tunnels, approaches, etc.) become entirely unnecessary or can be reduced to a minimum.

Intersettlement transportation is no more the meaningless transportation of endless masses of workers to and from work.  It becomes tied to the way of life and, of course, allows a tremendous economy in expenses otherwise wasted on equipment.  The streetcars could be replaced by a few buses, taxis, and the like.  The extension and number of the paved streets in the settlements can be sharply reduced, and these roads assume the appearance of arterial highways.

The water arteries, running the length of the settlement, open new prospects for inexpensive light-tonnage transportation, by both motor and sail boats.  Aviation thus receives a “free” navigating beacon in the form of these ribbon settlements which give by their illumination a sharp outline to the map of the area.

In brief, the linear nature of transportation finds its best advocate in this system.


Much the same thing can be said for plans for areas of industrial activities.  The attempt to shove all the buildings of an enterprise into one heap is in no way justified and it impairs not only the proper planning of a settlement but also the rational organization of the production.  As an illustration, above is the plan accepted for the Nizhegorod auto plant now being built (see Fig. 15).

As is evident from the diagram, the movement of production is particularly complicated.  The mechanics’ shops are squeezed in between the pressing, forging, rolling, and open-hearth sections which will have an adverse effect on both personnel and machinery.  The flow of production not only swirls about but cuts back into itself.

Coal and iron are going to the open-hearth furnace cross the mechanics’ and the pressing areas; metals on the way to the foundry and forge cross the power station; freight is constantly whirling about in circles; personnel go back and forth to the settlement across the railroad tracks.  The whole combine will be like Hell itself.

If only the shops were placed in one stream then we would have the following (see Fig.  16).

It is easy to see that all the defects have mentioned before ore here cleared up automatically, with no added wasteful expenses whatsoever and, on the contrary with significant reductions in expense — thanks to the shortened transport lines and the absence of circular movement within the enterprise.

The layout of shops and machines will [73] give the enterprise unlimited freedom of movement, will help the enterprise to organize the productive processes themselves in the most rational assembly-line fashion, and will bring the work force closer; and this will have a beneficial effect on productivity and will free it from the necessity of constructing a variety of subsidiary buildings such as branch fire stations, nurseries, dining halls, medical offices, etc.

The placement of factory departments, shops, warehouses, etc. between two lines of transportation (railway and highway) provides an exceptional opportunity to eliminate that chaos and crowding which characterize our plants at present.

The illumination and ventilation of shops under this system will be facilitated since in front of their transparent façades will be nothing but greenery or arteries of transport — not other shops.  This will also increase the workers’ production significantly.  In general, without spending an extra kopeck but frequently even saving one, we can better organize the productive process and make the work healthier and extend the working hours of men and machines by rational arrangement of the buildings (and also of the machines in them).

Finally, in order not to have to return again to layout of productive systems, we should say a word here about the type of buildings for them.

Here (and frequently in the West as well) the fact that contemporary production is based on a process flow (conveyor) far from being understood.  Meanwhile this intrinsically new principle of organization requires a different layout of the machines and, therefore, of the buildings than we had until now.  The conveyor, like oil other transportation, must have a linear course intersected only at those points of contact with processed material (assemblage), but not in the processing of the material itself.  The principle is not altered even when circular conveyors are used (in bakeries, for example), where the flow is not intersected.

This situation, as well as the ever-increasing significance of machines due to the introduction of new processes with huge capacities, means that questions of the construction of factory buildings must be seen in an entirely new light.

We have a longstanding attitude about the expediency of multistory and wide buildings.  Our opinion grows out of the fact that the layout of land plots in the West is connected with planning on the line system but that the expense of the land necessitates the upward growth of the complex.  In taking over mechanically this expedience from the West we do not make the necessary modifications for our own circumstances.  We have said enough concerning the advantage of the linear plan; with us, where the price of the land is practically nil, it is a complete waste to spend money on vertical substantial buildings which will long outlast the machines they house.  If we would accept narrow, one-story industrial buildings, we could save considerably on their expense. Thus in these buildings foundations become unnecessary since the floor (for instance, made of xylolite) will be directly on the ground as will the machines.  The walls could be made of glass in wood or metal frames are on a light foundation (for example, one-cinder block thick on the north, one-half on the south).

Supports (columns, pillars, walls, etc.) could be made of ordinary wood, and, where necessary, of reinforced concrete or metal constructions; overhead girders can be light beams except where this would be dangerous or in “hot” departments.  The roofs could best be covered with tar paper, a cheap and lightweight material, extremely easy to produce.

It is evident that this kind of construction would last from 20 to 30 years, i.e., about the same length of time as the machines, and would cost about 3-4 times less than brick buildings [i.e., ⅓ – ¼ as much].

Therefore, in any planning of new buildings and factories and in the replanning of those already existing, it is necessary wherever possible to avoid the parallel distribution of units (and machines), to avoid multilevel buildings and deviations from straight lines, never fearing large expanses of territory for industrial activities nor the construction of additional connecting offices.

It is self-evident that in any planning for the layout of such plants, at the basis must be the most rational and economical organization of the technological processes of the given production.  Moreover, the planner must constantly keep in mind the creation of healthy and safe conditions for man, for which, above oil, are necessary light and air.



Free education for all children in public schools.  Abolition of child factory labor in its present form.  Combination of education with industrial production, etc.

— K. Marx-F. Engels, Communist Manifesto

The real liberation of woman, real communism, will begin only when and where there begins the struggle (led by the proletariat which derives its power from the state) against this petty domestic economy, or, more accurately, with a massive restructuring of our economy into a large-scale socialist one.

— Lenin

In order to establish basic principles for the construction of the residential sectors of Soviet settlements during our transitional period, we must first enunciate clearly those problems which will present themselves in the immediate years ahead, since even the simplest constructional investments must be relied upon for over a period of from 25 to 40 years.  In the course of this time, every change in our way of life will be closely reflected in our residential construction which depends on the stage of our development at the time of construction.  Thus in building a separate kitchen for every 2 or 3 rooms, we are wasting ten times the amount of funds and energy what would be necessary for the construction of one large factory kitchen or food-combine with a chain of communal dining halls or of subsidiary kitchens near the general housing area.  Today this question is settled by attempts to build both the separate and the collective, but since we have very little money at present, we end up building primarily the individual kitchens and not large-scale mechanized ones.

Exactly the same is true of nurseries and kindergartens for our children.  While building separate apartments for each worker, we would like at the same time, to create a chain of nurseries and kindergartens for their children, but, since we do not have the means at present to build either of these, we must decide in favor of individual family apartments and not general institutions for the bringing up of children.

The question must be decided one way or the other.

If we attempt to do both, it would mean an increase of 1½ times over the present outlay for the construction of living space, which, given the present housing crisis, is hardly feasible for us without lowering the quota of living area available per person.

And, therefore, the first question we must decide is the matter of priority, or more accurately, which matter should receive more attention: should if be on the collectivization of the most significant needs of the populace or on the improvement of individual services?

It seems to us that there can be only one answer: prime attention must be on the creation of institutions for collective services for social needs.

We are brought to this conclusion not simply by considerations of a programmatic and theoretical nature.  The problem of workers’ teams has already, today, be come a very real question in the long-range development of our economy.  In the current fiscal year our very first industries are going into operation, and already the supply-market of workers has diminished considerably.  Tomorrow, when our new gigantic industries demand hundreds of thousands and millions of workers, the rural countryside will not be able to provide these millions since the development of agriculture, the exploitation of huge unsettled areas, the development of new branches and processes, will also demand new working hands.  We will find these hands by freeing woman from housework, and this is possible only through collectivizing our way of life.

Besides, the extreme crisis in housing and the problem posed by Marx and Lenin regarding a new method of distribution of population raises the question of controlling [75] the migration to our present cities. An alternative would be to use for production the already existing able-bodied labor reserves of the female portion of the population of cities.

Statistical analysis of the composition of workers’ families tells us that collectivization of the living services of the population would produce about a 30% increase in workers from the same number of adults in the city population, of which 40-50% would be occupied in providing these services, while 50-60% would be freed for production.  In other words, 15-18% of the overall city population can go into augmenting the productive labor force, which would mean an increase of 1½ times the number of workers, with no increase in the city population.

Research carried out for the programming of the construction of Stalingrad fully bore out these conclusions.

The second major contemporary problem — the raising of the productive capacity of labor — will find its best answer in the collectivization of the life services since this will eliminate worry about the obtaining of products, fuel, etc.

Finally, the problem of raising the standard of living of the population also finds its solution in the collectivization of the life services, even with our contemporary productive capacity of the labor force.

Freeing woman from the household and making her into a worker will increase the family’s earnings, only from 40 to 50% of these additional earnings need go toward the expenses of the family while 50-60% will be used to raise the standard of living.

Therefore, collectivization of the life services of the population provides:

1) the freedom of woman from domestic slavery;

2) a reduction, and in places elimination, of the demands for a flow of new workers into the city;

3) a reduction of demand for new residential construction;

4) an increase in the productive capacity of the labor force;

5) an increase in the standard of living of the working population; and

6) an advance to a higher cultural level for mankind.

In posing the problem so, does this mean that collective feeding and education will have to take children away from their parents?

Not in the least.

The matter of the healthy influence of children on adults — parental instincts, etc. — can in no way be ignored.

Right now we are only concerned with the premise of introducing social education for youngsters.  Moreover, in every case the closest bond between the parents and the children must be guaranteed. Parents, unless they have been deprived of the rights of parenthood by committing a crime, must have the privilege of coming to take the child at any time.

Only through extensive educational processes can the influence of the individual family be replaced by the influence of the collective. This matter can by no mean be solved mechanically.

Our problem today is one of creating the material foundation for collective education of children.  There can be no question of compulsion as of now.

In building special institutions for the life and education of children (closely connected with the adults’ home) we are establishing only the necessary conditions so that parents, when they wish, may send their children to these institutions.

Meanwhile, by depriving families of certain individual services and not allowing them to arrange this and that as they please, we of course do to some extent influence the population toward the organization of collective education.  This will not, however, mean compulsion and even less so the worsening of already existing conditions, since family apartments in the already existing cities are more than sufficient in number for the entire transitional period, while new construction will provide more, not less, living space for the family. Thus, it is not so much a matter of forbidding parents to keep their children as it is the creation of new living space for children by building specially equipped children’s institutions near the buildings for general dwelling.  This will be done by economizing on the construction of other building (i.e., elimination of individual kitchens, entranceways, corridors, pantries, etc.).

So far as collective feeding is concerned, we must go about this by creating healthful means for the gradual elimination of individual preparation of food by establishing collective dining rooms.  Also, in the transitional period we must provide for the construction of subsidiary kitchens in the dwellings, which — until the later period of food-combines (which produce semiprocessed staples) — will play an important role in organizing inexpensive feeding of the population and result in a significant saving [76] of time.  These subsidiary kitchens are to be arranged one for every 25-50 rooms, that is, about one for every 10 20 families.  They should be designed in such a way that they can be changed over into conventional living space once the need for them has passed.

Much the same can be said for laundries.  The creation of good and inexpensive mechanical laundries (placed to best advantage in connection with the public baths) will completely free women from this barbaric task.  But we should also provide for small mechanical installations where male and female workers can, with a minimum of effort, wash their underthings.

The installation of these laundries will also call for a minimal expenditure, and it will be a great advantage for the lower-paid group of the population.

Thus we see that institutions for collective feeding of the population, collective education of children, as well as mechanized laundries — these are the first necessary elements of collective life that must be provided for in new construction.

The usual (alas, not original!) argument that is leveled against this is that the system will destroy the traditional family order, that it will entail loosening up and eventual complete disintegration of the family.

It is not difficult to see that this argument is nothing more than a recrudescence of bourgeois ideology; indeed

with the image of the life of the people, with their collective relationships, with their collective mode of living, their imaginations, their outlooks, their understanding, in a word, their consciousness also changes.  What is it that substantiates the history of ideas, if not the fact that the mental activity transforms itself together with the material activity? The leading ideas of any given time have always been the ideas of the ruling class.  (K. Marx)

Yes, the traditional way of life will change in proportion to the degree of collectivization.  But we are not at all against, changes nor the elimination of the family mode of life, one of the survivals of a form of slavery — that of woman in the bourgeois world.

Abolition of the family! Even extreme radicals throw up their hands in horror when they speak of this shameful communist proposal.

On what is today’s bourgeois family based? On capital, on private gain.  In its fully developed form, it exists only for the bourgeoisie, but has its corollaries the forced family-less state of the proletarians and public prostitution.

The bourgeois family will inevitably collapse together with the collapse of these corollaries, and together the two will vanish with the vanishing of capital.

Do you reproach us for wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? We plead guilty to the charge!

Our determination to replace domestic education by social, implies (you declare) a disregard for the most sacred of relationships.

But the education you provide is it not socially determined? Is it not determined by the social conditions within whose framework you educate? Is it not determined directly or indirectly by society, [77] acting through the schools, etc.? The influence of society upon education was not o discovery of the communists! They merely propose to change the character of the process, by withdrawing education from the influence of the ruling class.

Bourgeois phrasemaking about the family and education, about the intimate relationships between parents and children, becomes more and more nauseating in proportion as the development of large-scale industry severs all the family ties of the proletarians, and in proportion as proletarian children are transformed into mere articles of commerce and instruments of labor.

But you communists want to make women common property!shrieks the bourgeois chorus.

The bourgeois regards his wife as nothing but an instrument of production.  He is told that the means of production are to be utilized in common.  How can he help thinking that this implies the communization of women as well as other things?

He never dreams for a moment that our main purpose is to insure that women shall no longer occupy the position of a mere instrument of production.

Besides, nothing could be more absurd than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois as regards the official communization of women which the communists are supposed to advocate.  Communists do not need to introduce community of women; it has almost invariably existed.

The members of the bourgeoisie, not content with having the wives and daughters of proletarians at their disposal (to say nothing of public prostitution) find one of their chief pleasures in seducing one another’s wives!

Bourgeois marriage is, in actual fact, the community of wives.  At worst, communists can only be charged with wanting to replace a hypocritical and concealed community of women by an official and frankly acknowledged community.  Moreover, it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production will lead to the disappearance of that form of the community of women which results therefromto the disappearance of official and unofficial prostitution. (K. Marx-F. Engels, Communist Manifesto).

It is hard to think of a better answer to the clamorers against the new way of life, and against the establishment basis for the breakup of the family.  One cannot but regret that in certain circles of our party, the bourgeois ideology is so wrong, that, with a diligence worthy of a less petty purpose, they think up ever new arguments for retaining the double bed as a permanent and compulsory item in the worker’s home!

It is easy to see that the resistance of these circles to the growing movement of the new masses of workers toward a new way of life “reflects the typical resistance of obsolete classes” (I. Stalin, speech at the XVI Party Congress).

Along with institutions for collectivized education of children and institutions for collectivized feeding, the problem of creating a network of repair shops must be met as well as the establishing of cultural and educational works (libraries, clubs, etc.).  [78]

The programs for these institutions must be carefully thought out in advance.

It is best, therefore, to organize a network of repair shops at any given stage along cooperative lines (for example, artels of the handicapped).  In organizing libraries, the American system should be taken into account and adapted to our needs (see Kravchenko’s book.  Toward a Single Main Library System, published by Glz, 1929, price: 10 kopecks).  Smaller libraries for more current literature should be established in our communal dwelling units (for example, in the dining rooms).  These should be connected with district libraries and those, in turn, with regional libraries and so on — up to the central, all-union library.

Every citizen should have the possibility of requesting for himself any book in the country.  This system would cut down tremendously on the number of books which have to be printed and at the same time would allow anyone who wished to receive any book.  It would be possible to charge for this either by subscription or by single payment, as desired.  No special reading rooms would have to be built (except in district libraries or in libraries affiliated with scientific institutions), since anyone can improve himself by reading and working with a book at home and in the summer by reading it out in the garden or on the terrace, etc.

Reading rooms in small libraries and in many institutions connected with individual and isolated entertainment and learning will disappear because of their uselessness (for example, those in maternity homes, dairies, kitchens, children’s administrations, in many educational units, factory, workshop schools, in a number of buildings for the departments of economics and medicine, in technological institutions, school laboratories, etc.).

Similarly, the construction of special accommodations for physical culture is completely superfluous. It must be clear to everyone how absurd it would be to drive this work indoors in summer; and winter sports and physical culture must be so planned that they are connected with ice (mountains, ice-skates, etc.) and snow (skis). It is time for us to begin to become accustomed to fresh air and the cold.  Youth must first be toughened up; let the parades come later.  It seems to me that our physical culture experts will solve this problem brilliantly.  This does not, of course, preclude the installation of some apparatus in social accommodations (for example in clubs) without, however, the creation of special rooms for them, etc.

A couple of words about the organization of the life of children of school age.  Here we must examine the question of dormitories for school children and school camps.  All that we have said prior to this [pp. 74, 75 ff.] about the construction of living areas for children of pre-school age is also relevant to those of school age, with the only distinction being that the latter can live at a somewhat greater distance from the adults.  Besides this, the methods of an education directed toward a closer link between it and production must be carefully worked out.

Thus, the gradual collectivization of social services, the interrelating of schools with production, and the new organization of physical culture will provide us a basic economy in our new buildings.


As a result, we must have the following buildings in the residential area:

1) dwelling houses;

2) dining rooms with small related facilities for collective relaxation (libraries, billiards, chess);

3) institutions for pre-school children (nurseries and kindergartens);

4) dormitories for school-age children;

5) district and local clubs (culture palaces and rest homes local (district) libraries, sporting fields, etc.

In addition, it would not be a bad idea to have in parks several café-pavilions, areas for games and physical culture (tennis, volleyball), and also, where possible, piers for sailing, rowing, and motor boats. This would cost us only kopecks, but would be extremely useful.

General conclusion: the residential zone must be planned and built as a unified economic arrangement of a socialistic type in which will be provided all the necessary conditions for the collectivization of communal, social, and cultural needs of the population (feeding, education of children and young people, medical care, baths, laundries, repair shops, water supplies, sewers, transportation, clubs, etc.).

The system of cooperation and collectivization of all the most important parts of the social way of life and cultural services must, in the last analysis, make possible the use of all the labor resources of the population.  In particular, to use the labor of women freed from the demands of home economy, the labor of the handicapped, and also the organized use of the labor of children and adolescents by a system of education that is based upon industrial and agricultural production.

In organizing life in buildings and settlements constructed in the new way, any elements that might coerce people into the new way of life must be totally excluded.  The new way of life must be born as a natural result of the new organization of labor and housing and of the proper organization of institutions for collectivized social services to meet the needs of the population.



The struggle for space and light…may be conserved even in plants.

— F. Engels, Anti-Duhring

The placement of the separate buildings in the living zone is also of significance.  To begin with, the illumination of the interior of edifices by sunlight is mandatory, especially in view of the criminal practice — not only in the big capitalist countries but also here among ourselves — of placing buildings in such a way that there are many areas, including living spaces, which get no direct sunlight at all.

Nonetheless, it must be said that there are many projects (Stalingrad, for example) where our planners deprive whole sectors of sunlight and, at the same time, have the effrontery to call them “socialistic.”  Needless to say, it is a fine kind of socialism that deprives a worker of the sunlight!

Therefore, it is essential to demand that all dwelling houses, if there are two rows of apartments, be placed along the meridian (from south to north), but if there be only one, it should then face south or south-east. The disposition of living dwellings helter-skelter must not be allowed unless the “offshoot” (i.e., running east to west) has one row of dwellings facing the south and in addition the “offshoot” does not shade the dwellings situated behind it.

Besides this, no construction should be permitted (including baths, corridors, toilets, etc.) which does not get some sun every day.

We must also categorically eliminate the disgraceful congestion in the layout of buildings that is the rule in cities. In general, it would be more correct to lay out buildings in one line, leaving in front of their windows forest, field, or water.  If conditions are such that traffic requires that the transparent façades of parallel rows of buildings face each other, then a wide free space should be left between them of no less than 75-100 m (depending on the size and height of the building).

The usual argument against such placement is that it would complicate and make more expensive the social services in the community.  It must be said, however, that this is far from being so.  By laying out the buildings in one line we will not lengthen the pavements, water pipes, sewers, and electric lines but will actually shorten them. This is due to the fact that we will then have a single unbent line which will make unnecessary the innumerable offshoots common at present.

In parallel rows of building, we can run the sewer, water, and electric along and under the houses rather than through the streets as now, intersecting the houses roughly in the middle of their sides.

Finally, it will be necessary to end the practice of combining in the same building so many diverse installations for different services. For example, the inclusion of stores in dwelling houses infests them with rodents, etc.; it sharply increases the cost of the store and hastens eventual deterioration of the building; placing nurseries and kindergartens in dwellings breeds epidemics among children; the building of cinemas will dirty the residences and expose them to fire, etc., etc.

The most that should be accommodated directly in dwellings are libraries and study units, and these should be on1y for the use of the residents.

It goes without saying that the installation in living quarters of productive activity of any kind, except perhaps the very lightest (for example, laundries), should not be allowed under any circumstances.



The proletarian is either a revolutionary or he is nothing.

— K. Marx

The communist revolution is the most radical rupture with existing property relations, no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.

— K. Marx-F. Engels, Communist Manifesto

The creation of collectivized dining halls, nurseries, kindergartens, dormitories, laundries, and repair shops will really break radically with the existing family attitude toward property, and this will provide the economic premises for the extinction of the family as an economic unit.

This fact allows us to see the residential cells in new buildings as being compartments for separate people united in the collective in which the family, if it exists, does not do so as an economic unit but as a free group of people — united by personality, by kinship, or the like.  The intimate relationships of people will become their own private affair independent of any direct property considerations. Part of the expenses of the education of children, until fully assumed by society, will be borne by the parents according to their incomes.

We can, therefore, state that these living cells must be apportioned one per person for the adult population with the option that they may be united in various combinations, have direct connection with each other, and so forth; this will allow the population to live in whatever combination it desires including families, using its living space according to its own tastes and habits.

It therefore follows that in constructing new buildings all living cells must be furnished with the minimum necessary equipment that is indispensable for man’s living quarters.  One must move toward a situation in which it would be possible, gradually, to end man’s present enslavement by his possessions.  Besides, this is consistent with purely economic considerations.  The construction of homes along with their equipment of the most essential furniture will make it possible to combine mass production with inexpensive and good furniture.

In order to decide what an individual living cell must look like, what furnishings it must have, its dimensions and internal design, it is necessary that we first of all determine its function (i.e., its significance).

We can under no circumstances agree with those comrades who attempt to [82] assign the sole role of sleeping cabin to the living cell, and who relegate all the other functions to collectivized buildings.  Thus, for example, they think to create a row of studies in each general dwelling for the study of books; for conversation with one’s comrades they want special collective sitting rooms; for rest during the day, corresponding resting rooms; etc.

This kind of parceling out of the functions of living is no more than a peculiar exaggeration of the basis of which lies the idea of the lordly suite, applied no longer to the family but to the collective.  Actually, what we have here is only a formally modified pattern of the petit-bourgeois dwelling.

As a curiosity, one can cite the example of a number of projects for a living cabin in the settlement of the Nizhegorod auto plant where the designers of this sleeping cabin idea have exchanged the “necessity” that finds itself under most middle class beds for a bowl alongside of it! Transformation of the dwelling unit into a mere toilet is the ideal of the middle-class architect!

This mistaken conception leads to the situation whereby, giving too much space to collectivized studies, dining rooms, and so on, the authors of the “sleeping cabin” project were forced to cut down so far on the space for the cabins that they will be of less than average comfort.

We must focus attention on these mistakes because such distortion and errors can discredit the whole idea of the new dwelling.

The individual residential cell (that is, for each person) must provide:

1) for sleeping;

2) for book use, etc.;

3) for individual relaxation;

4) for the safekeeping of one’s things that are in constant use (linens, clothing, one’s individual everyday items, etc.);

5) for attention to elementary personal hygiene.

Assuming these functions, the individual living cell should have the following minimum equipment:

1) a place to sleep, in form of either a convertible bed or a divan which can turn into a bed at night — or just an ordinary bed;

2) a working table with drawers for objects for intellectual work (notebooks books, paper, etc.);

3) two or three chairs or an arm chair-

4) a small table;

5) storage for clothes and linens (for example, built into the wall);

6) a wash basin;

7) a medicine cabinet with hygienic supplies and a mirror.

Besides this there should be a shower stall (even if only one for every two rooms).

So equipped, the living cell will transform itself (convert itself): during the day as a work study and quarters for individual relaxation, and at night as a sleeping room.

If these are the purposes of the residential cell, it should have the following minimum dimensions, including the equipment:

a) along the façade (outside wall) 2.8 m,

b) in depth 3 m.


This makes 8.4 m2.  If we take the minimum height as 2.6 m, then the minimum volume of the living cell will be 21.84 m3.

It is evident that these measurements are minimal and, with the slightest opportunity, should be increased.

As an illustration we give below two variants of such compartments worked out by ourselves.  The drawing in Fig. 21 shows cells having the minimum dimensions 8.4 m3 or 21.84 m3.  Figures 22-23 illustrate the general appearance of such a cell with a bed that folds into the wall.


Figures 24-30 show the plan, section, elevation, and the internal and general appearance of the living cell worked out by Stroikom RSFSR.  This compartment has a floor area of 14 m2 and a volume of 39.2 m3, has a special cabinet for shower and toilet, and has two transparent walls.

The examples of plans of living cells here may be recommended as an initial step for the further work of planners for whom it is important that the basic premise be understood that man in any case will be spending about half his life in this space. For this reason, reducing it to “little cabins” or worse still into “closets” makes a mockery of the concept of man’s new dwelling.

From this arises the necessity for special attention to the question of aesthetics and hygiene in the equipping and painting of the living cells.  All the attainments of contemporary architecture and applied art must be mobilized so that a healthy and happy life for man can be achieved in the minimum which the living cell offers.

Unobstructed ventilation must be unconditionally guaranteed, for which, incidentally, it is not in the least necessary to construct ventilating ducts, which are still expensive; we need only install air vents — or even better, moving windows (on rollers) (see Fig. 23) or even whole sliding walls (see Fig. 22).

If means are insufficient to provide 8.4 square meters per person, then showers could be planned for 12 to 15 people.

Every kind of cornice, fretwork, open shelf, etc. must be avoided as a source of dust and infection (contamination).  Partitions and exterior property walls must be avoided since it would be thoughtless to keep light out of the interior.

The same holds true for the various rags with which our inhabitants do so love to “ prettify” their dwelling, turning it into such a dusty accumulation of useless trash.

The challenge to the contemporary architect is how to arrange for more light, air, happiness, and simplicity.



We will create exemplary institutions, dining halls, nurseries, which will free woman from home cares…These institutions, liberating woman from the position of a domestic slave, spring up everywhere where there is the slightest possibility for them to do so.

— Lenin

Institutions for children should be divided into the following groups:

1) nurseries for children up to 3 years of age;

2) kindergartens for those from 4 to 7;

3) dormitories and camps for those from 8 to 14;

4) dormitories and camps for those from 15 to 18.

Nurseries can be organized in two ways: 1) for 45 to 60 children; 2) for 90 to 120 children.  The smaller number of children in the nursery is determined by the calculation of services rendered the separate age levels; the larger limit is determined by the level beyond which the accumulation of children of the same age represents too great a danger of infectious disease.  In my opinion the most reasonable total would be from 45 to 60 children for nurseries.

The arrangement of the nursery depends on its size.  According to the specifications of Narkomzdrav the greatest volume of space necessary per child in the nursery is from 50 to 55 m3 including the service and related accommodations.

Kindergartens, according to the specifications of Narkompros, consist of groups of 20 children each.  It is not possible to concentrate in one accommodation more than three groups i.e., 60 children.  The largest volume of space necessary for children is determined by Narkompros to be from 50 to 60 m3 per child.

School dormitories (for children from 8 to 14 years of age) are recommended by Narkompros to be arranged for from 80 to 100 children.  Each child should have from 50 to 60 m3 of space.

Youth dormitories (for ages 15 to 18) need not be built at all since the adolescents can live in the general residences together with adults or in special collective dwellings differentiated from the others only by the absence of nurseries and kindergartens.

The ceiling height for all these accommodations is calculated to be roughly 4 m and could be reduced without harm to 3.2 m as long as the volume is maintained at 50 m3 for each child and adolescent, regardless of age.

Not included in this cubic measurement [86] are: 1) kitchens, since food will be prepared either in factory kitchens or (under the system of food-combines) in the kitchen dining room of the dormitory; 2) special school accommodations (laboratories, auxiliary rooms, etc.), since these must be quartered in special buildings and counted as services for the dormitories.

The number of children per thousand people is approximately as follows:

1) under 3 years………………100

2) from 4 to 7……………60

3) from 8 to 14……………140

Altogether, of those under 14 there are 300 and from 15 to 17 (inclusive) there are 65.

It must be kept in mind that these figures vary for different categories of the population and for various cities.  Thus, the number of children per thousand of population under 14 in Moscow is 236, in Sverdlovsk — 279, in Ivanovo-Voznesensk — 283, in Mofovilikh — 349, at the Votkinskii Plant — 342, etc.

In the layout of children’s quarters, the following must be taken into account:

1) the lower the age of the children, the closer they should be to their parents and the easier it should be for them to communicate with each other;

2) the older the children, the closer they should be to collectivized and productive institutions and activities in order that the influence of their parents gradually be replaced by that of the collective;

3) between children close in age there must be provided a constant communication and proximity for their mutual influence; this is important for their development.

It will, therefore, be correct, if in planning dormitories, we will lay out the nurseries and kindergartens of the residences with covered walkways (but not with interior corridors, in order to avoid spreading of contagious diseases).

It would be best that the accommodations for children of school age be situated in special residences, connected with the school buildings.

Buildings for children of pre-school age should never be mult-storied.  The best would be a one-story building having a sliding glass south wall with a small low open terrace in front of it containing a shallow pool for running water.  Everything must, of course, be surrounded by greenery.  The distance from the children’s residence (nurseries as well as kindergartens) to the residence for grownups should be from 20 to 30 meters.  The children’s residence should be on the side of the adult quarters that is away from the productive zone.

The following figures should determine the dimensions of the general dwelling.

Assuming that each dwelling should have a nursery and kindergarten, we see that:

1) the smallest general dwelling may be organized for 400 people (i.e., about 100-125 families), 300 adults and 100 children of pre-school age;

2) the largest general dwelling will be for 800 people (i.e., 200-250 families), 600 adults and 200 children of pre-school age.

It is self-evident that these figures must be considered as average and therefore deviations from them are inevitable in individual cases.  These variations can be compensated for by relocating orphans in the children’s residences, and single people and adolescents in the adult quarters.

The so-called communal body which includes dining room (with kitchen), barber shop, small library, and recreation rooms (billiards, chess, etc.) would best be put into a separate building connected with the adult residence by a heated corridor.  The space necessary for this would be on the order of 1 m3 per person.  If the quarters for recreation and the small library were put together, the average height of the commune body would then be about 4.5-5 m, whence the general cubic capacity of these buildings would be set at from 5 to 6 m3 per person.

By calculating several shifts for the operation of the dining room, its area — and consequently the volume of the communal body — can be reduced by 30-50%.



The amalgamation of residential cells, nurseries, kindergartens, and of the communal body into blocks can take the widest variety of forms.

Whatever the decision may be, however, one must keep in mind the correlation between child and adult population figures, which determines the maximum and minimum dimensions of the blocks.  It is self-evident that, on the one hand, a number of these blocks may be joined together into one general block (which is not particularly expedient) or, on the other hand, can be split up.  (For example, for a single nursery and one kindergarten there can be 2, 3, 4, etc. adult dwelling buildings.)  As regards communal bodies, if a mechanized kitchen and food-combine are present then it is best to build them for no more than 300-400 diners.

Taking into consideration previous [88] construction experience up to this point, one can recommend the following schemes for architectural organization of blocks;

1.  A one-story corridorless block proposed by Stroikom RSFSR, (Figs. 24-55), in which the residential units are arranged in one uninterrupted ribbon, and, moreover each unit has a separate entrance underneath the house — which is up on pilotis.  Stations of the transportation routes with attendant communal facilities are placed at certain intervals in front of and parallel to this [continuous] dwelling body.  The station is connected with the dwelling body by a covered walkway.  An extension of this walkway connects the dwelling body and the station with the children’s residence (nurseries and kindergartens are placed in a checkerboard pattern).  This arrangement is suitable for agricultural enterprises in the south, although it suffers from severe shortcomings; it requires a very complicated movement system (for every 300 people one kilometer of road).  Thanks to the absence of corridors, this system gives on exceptionally good economic relationship between the square meters of dwelling area and the cubic volume of the building (about 3.2), which makes it possible to expand the living space per person to 14 cubic meters; however, this is exclusive of the building of auxiliary facilities for each group of rooms (auxiliary kitchens, boilers, etc.).


2.  A system of separate houses for 32 people each with 2 per room (proposed by OSA, see Figs. 56-58). The communal quarters are laid out in a hall with two glass walls, and the arrangement is not linked to the roadways but depends exclusively on local topography.  Besides those mention the previous project, a disadvantage is an extremely unsatisfactory relationship of the area to the cubic content of the buildings.


[Two paragraphs missing]


5.  Finally we come to the projects that we have worked out in two variations for a three-story block for 400-800 people (see Figs. 21-23 and 65-72).

The first variant gives a three-story block with one corridor, in which the residential unit consists of identical (standardized) groups of 10 residential cells in each [vertical] group, of which two (on the first floor) must accommodate a couple while the other eight (on the second and third floors) are single compartments.

Auxiliary kitchens are installed either on the ground floor or in one of the residential cells (as temporary quarters which can be changed at any time).

Each of these [vertical] groups of rooms is equipped with bath and shower (third floor) and double baths (second floor).  All cells can be united, without any changes, into apartments of 2, 3, or 4 rooms.

The second variant of this offers the same residence building but with corridors on each floor and with identical residential units; moreover, services are placed on each floor near the stairway [not illustrated].

Connected with the dwelling unit are the dining room and recreation room (together), the kindergarten or the nursery [see fig. 70].

The construction of the building is lightened (wooden or reinforced-concrete framework with fibrolite, wood, or organic silicate infilling) with no partition walls or foundations.  The flat roofs are arranged as basins (with no drains).

We try for maximum simplicity and clarity in external appearance and plan.  The only decorations are the window boxes under each window for flowers.

In the residential unit, for one square meter of living area there are 4.5-5 cubic meters of volume.  This makes it possible to expand the living area per person to 10.5-12 square meters per 55-60 cubic meters of construction per person, including the communal elements.

Without exception all accommodations including baths, corridors, toilets, stairways, etc. — right up to the very top — are lit by direct sunlight.

With very minor structural changes, such a block can be built from brick or almost any other material.

This solution gives one kilometer of road for 2,000 people and demands 5 times less transportation planning than the first (Stroikom) project.

Two schemes of the layout of such blocks are possible (house-communes):

1) In a line along the highway.

2) End-on to the highway — moreover the buildings are situated in separate parallel blocks for from 300 to 600 adults [see fig. 70].  Each block should be about 100 meters from the next.  This would mean one kilometer for 4,000 8,000 people.  In Moscow, in spite of its insane congestion, there are no more people per kilometer of pavement.

All these projects (along with many others) undoubtedly need further elaboration and, in particular, practical testing. One thing is certain: the creative thought of the contemporary architect-engineer must be mobilized to find a better solution to these problems. It is necessary to solve a number of still unclear questions concerning the greatest economic advantage of each alternative plan under different climatic conditions; it is also necessary to search for the shrewdest solutions to the plan, for new combinations, etc., etc.



This isn’t a parade — it’s a war.

— Pushkin, The Little House in Kolomna

All our contemporary construction lakes on the character of completely unnecessary monumentality, it is calculated for an excessive durability.  In part the term of the amortization is too long.  Our buildings are in the highest degree antediluvian; the materials are weighty and expensive, which causes our buildings to be of extremely high cost and most cumbersome.  Our houses remind one more of medieval castles than contemporary dwellings.  Let us take two examples for illustration: The House of Soviets in Makhachkala (Dagestan) built in the form of a Genoese castle of the sixteenth century (Fig. 73) and either Professor Ginzburg’s project for a contemporary apartment house (Fig. 76) — or our own proposal for house-communes (see Figs. 71-72).  A quick look suffices to reveal the absurdity, extravagance, [104] and senseless monumentality of the Dagestan construction.  Examples of such a prodigal waste of materials are endless.  It is enough to illustrate the Central Telegraph Building on Gor’kii Street, the Gosbank building on Neglinnaia Street (Moscow) [Fig.  75], a large number of buildings in Novosibirsk, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, we have, at present, full opportunity to build with the light and inexpensive materials which we possess in abundance. For example, we have wood, a fine material for light framework construction, fibrolite (sawdust with magnesia cement), torfleum (peat), torfo-veneer, materials made from textile wastes, Nekrasov organo-silicate blocks, scutched bricks, glass-slag hollow concrete blocks, and many others.

These light and inexpensive materials make possible the widespread installation of factories to produce standardized parts for buildings so that only the finished parts, the blocks, etc. need be transported to the construction site.  The Nekrasov organo-silicate blocks would be especially good in this connection.

Therefore, one of the most important problems of today must be to recognize the working out of a type of light construction, the setting of necessary standards, the development of standardized parts for lighter buildings, and the organization of a mass production of these parts. Most expedient would be the creation of an experimental institute for dwelling construction, such as the Bauhaus at Dessau, where all our outstanding and advanced architectural and engineering talents would be concentrated in order to work out both the planning and the construction of socially meaningful architecture and its equipment.

In the establishment of this institution there must be consolidated all the construction experience which now is extremely dispersed and is not united by one single will.

It seems to me that this institute must also work out the problems of communal construction, including those of water supply and sewage.  The latter is all the more important since we still are extremely conservative in our approach to this matter, it is sufficient to point out that we are hardly using at present the American method of wooden water pipes and sewer systems which has proven itself, although this type of installation is not new here and can be met with in many parts of the USSR, where it has been used both simply and inexpensively.

Besides this, we have the experience of having built for an electric station in the Caucasus an extensive pipe system out of wood which handles quite high pressures.

If we could solve this problem, we would be able to open up completely new possibilities in the matter of development of water supply and heating networks, as well as sewage disposal — all of which would be extremely simple and inexpensive.  In addition, this would free many tons of metal which we are at present literally burying in the ground.

The same can be said for the covering of our buildings.

Composition paper [tol], rubberoid, and similar materials are rarely used by us.  Meanwhile their lightness, nonflammability, comparative cheapness, and simplicity of installation make it possible to convert the many millions of tons of metal of our roofs into productive machinery.



The ideal is nothing more than the material transformed and redone in the human head.

— K. Marx, Capital

A few words on the architectural design of our construction.  All these styles, Empires, Baroques, Renaissances, Gothics, and the like were very fine for their own epochs; they corresponded to the materials, ways of life, etc.

Our epoch — the epoch of the machine, of severe economy, new materials, new social relationships, and new forms of living — demands new architectural forms.

It would be an utterly senseless pursuit to try to invent these forms.  They must arise themselves as a result of the material and the structural content of the new buildings. The architect’s problem is to now how to find the most rational solution possible to the essence of the content of the building, while the form itself would be a logical consequence of this solution.  Our architecture must, first and foremost, be honest, and an honest solution to a correctly stated and correctly resolved problem cannot help but be beautiful.

An intelligent structural solution needs no covering mask of decoration.  A healthy face needs no powder.

The hopeless tedium of many plans for contemporary installations stem from the incorrect solution to architectural problems, not as a result of denial of decoration.  Quite the contrary: not owing how correctly to solve problems of architectural organization of the building and its construction causes many architects to hide their illiteracy and lock of ability behind the mask of “style” for which they either steal from their elders — calling this thievery by the delicate term “eclecticism” — or else they try to think up something “new” or “newest” in the way of style, accompanying their vices with noisy leftist phrases and twaddle about idealism, symbolism, and other such rubbish.

The Soviet settlement must be honest and simple in its forms as the working class is honest and simple; varied — as life is varied; the parts that make up the buildings should be standardized but not the buildings themselves; economical in the material and maintenance expended but not in their expanse and volume, joyous as nature is joyous.  Finally, they should be comfortable, light, and hygienic.

Lightness, expediency, simplicity, variety, cleanliness, a maximum of light — these are the qualities on which must be based the architectural design of Soviet construction.



The highest praise must be given to the commune precisely because in all its economic undertakings its “live soul” was based not on any principles but on solid practical demand.

— Friedrich Engels

We have already noted that the organization of a socialized way of servicing the population leads new cadres into productive labor.  At the present time Gosplan RSFSR has made a rather thorough accounting of the population of the workers’ settlement at the Magnitogorsk industrial combine.

These calculations yield the following picture.

The general number of workers employed in the industrial combine is taken as 11,400.  This number of workers in the future will be almost doubled, since at the present time the increase in volume of the productive task of the combine has already been predetermined.  However, this change will hardly influence our calculations, since all other figures will increase in proportion to the increase in the number of workers

Assuming this number employed in production at Magnitogorsk — both workers and service personnel resident in settlements of the usual type — it will be necessary to have about 3,500 workers and service personnel employed in servicing the soviet, communal, trade, and similar activities and institutions.  Taking into account that the average family composition for the Union SSR, according to TsSU, consists of: for metal workers 3.7-3.8, for service personnel 3.6-3.7, and single persons comprise 12-14% in this branch of production — we arrive at the conclusion that the whole population of the workers’ settlement at Magnitogorsk will be from 49,500 to 51,000 people.  This number of inhabitants is the minimum, since in analogous settlements in the Urals (Motovilikha, Votkinskii Plant, et al.) the composition of families of the inhabitants varies from 3.8 to 4.1, which further raises the population by 10%, i.e., to 55,000 people.

Taking a minimal figure of the population of Magnitogorsk under conditions of usual construction at 50,000 people, we will need a total living space:

At a norm of 9 m3 per person: 450,000 m3.

at a norm of 6 m3 per person: 300,000 m3.

Using a relationship of volume to living area established by VSNKh as 8, we will have a building volume of:

At a norm of 9 m3 per person: 3,600,000 m3.

at a norm of 6 m3 per person: 2,400,000 m3.

At a cost per m3 considered normal for the Ural area as 20 r., the general cost of construction for residential buildings of the usual type for the Magnitogorsk settlements will consist of:

At a norm of 9 m3 per person: 72,000,000 r.

at a norm of 6 m3 per person: 48,000,000 r.

If, however, in building Magnitogorsk we could immediately assure the population of all basic forms of socialized services for its most pressing needs, that would allow us to attract a large sector of the employable dependent population into productive work and service institutions and significant activities, and the picture would be entirely different.

Thus, according to the Gosplan calculations of 11,400 workers and service personnel occupied in production, in the servicing there will be employed from 6,500 to 7,000, and the entire dependent population will be from 18,000 to 18,500 as against 15,000 dependents in a settlement of the usual sort.

However, due to the fact that a very significant part of the employable population is usually tied up in domestic tasks, with socialized services, there will be the opportunity to draw this sector into production and service activities and institutions, and the overall number of inhabitants of the settlement would drop to 33,500-31,500 people. Moreover, due to the peculiarities of the metallurgic industry, this wouldleave only 1,500 employable people [117] unoccupied, the labor of whom could be put to use in the future in subsidiary agricultural activities.

In this case, given a norm of 8½-9 m3 and 1-1½ m3 of additional space for service accommodations (cafeteria, library), we would have a usable area relationship of a cubature of 5, resulting in 50-55 m3 of residential space per person.

From the same [Gosplan] calculation indicated above we can calculate the cubature for children’s institutions (except for schools, which are excluded from the accounts of both variants).

In this way for a maximum of 33,000 inhabitants in a settlement with socialized services, we will need a maximum of 1,815,000 m3 of all types of residential construction (including nurseries, kindergartens, boarding schools, cafeterias, libraries, etc.) at a maximum cost of 36,300,000 r. at a price of 20 r. per m3 as in the first usual variant.  This cost can undoubtedly be significantly lowered through standardization of the dwelling unit, etc.

Thus we see that with identical norms and with identical costs of construction, even without full usage of the total able and working population, the very greatest expense for residential construction of the village with socialized services will be 2 times less than [i.e., ½ as much as] the least possible expense for residential construction of settlements of the usual type.

If the usual settlement is constructed at the least imaginable expense for 6 m3 per person, even then the settlement with socialized servicing will cost 25% less than the “usual” in spite of the fact that there will be almost twice as much available living space per person.

In these accounts for both the first and second alternatives, expenses are excluded for administrative, commercial, communal, school, hospital, transportation, and other construction.  But, here again, in the settlement with socialized services, much less expense is necessary for construction; thus, for example, in this instance, all expenses are eliminated for the construction of specialized buildings for nurseries, maternity and children’s homes, orphan asylums, cafeterias, a large number of commercial buildings, etc.

Moreover, the volume of these structures will be reduced, for instance in hospitals, administration buildings, etc. due to the fewer number of inhabitants and better living conditions.

We draw on the example of the construction figures for Magnitogorsk because they give the most pessimistic accounts for a settlement with socialized services of the living needs of its population:

1) labor conditions in the heavy-metal industry are least auspicious with respect to female labor, which leads to the impossibility of full employment of the able-bodied population, leaving a remainder of unoccupied but employable persons of 1,500;

2) the fact that Magnitogorsk is being built in an isolated site does not present the possibilities which would be available, for example in Stalingrad, through use of an already existing dependent labor force;

3) the climatic conditions of Magnitogorsk demand the adoption of the types of construction that are connected by heated corridors which necessitate 5 m3 for each square meter of living area.  Under other conditions (for example, in the Crimea, Northern Caucasus, in the Transcaucasus, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Southern Ukraine, etc.) it is possible to use the corridorless system of construction (for example, that proposed by Stroikom RSFSR) which would lower this coefficient to 3.2, i.e., would lower construction costs by 25-35% besides the resultant lessening of costs through lighter construction, the simplification of heating installations, etc.

Thus from these Gosplan figures, it is evident that the construction of dwellings of the socialist type will require significantly less means than construction of the usual type.

This fact has tremendous significance in that it decisively refutes the major argument of the conservative elements of our establishment, who maintain that this type of construction is beyond our means.  It is easy to see that this argument is based exclusively on a lack of familiarity with the question.  Obviously such figures need experimental verification.  However, they show such a “margin of safety” that they can undoubtedly be considered entirely realistic.



It is obvious that a necessary condition for instituting socialized services for the needs of the population is the availability of a corresponding material basis.  In the previous chapter we showed that as regards the costs of capital construction the question can be considered completely resolved since, all things being equal, construction intended for socialized services for the population needs will be at least twice as economical [i.e., cost ½ as much] as the usual.  As for the capability of the population to meet current costs of socialized child education, the answer lies in the accounts given below.

If we take conditions m Moscow, where we have the highest salaries and highest product costs and consequently the highest outlay for upkeep of children’s institutions, we have the following results.

Per 1,000 inhabitants of Moscow there are:

Children to age 3 years……………91.2

Children from age 4 to 7……………58.6

Children from age 8 to 14……………86.2

Youths from age 15 to 17……………52.3

Able-bodied population ……………667.7

Unemployable and elderly……………44.0

Total 1,000.0

From these figures we find that per 100 able-bodied inhabitants of Moscow there are:

Children to age 3 years……………13.7

Children from age 4 to 7……………8.7

Children from age 8 to 14……………12.9

Youths from age 15 to 17……………7.8

Unemployable and elderly……………6.4

Total        49.5

Using these figures for the Moscow population we will arrive at the following expenses for each 100 employable adults.

1.  Nurseries. The maximum expense for the complete maintenance of a child in the nursery under best conditions including all overhead expenses, according to data of Narkomzdrav RSFSR, is about 60 r. per month.  This norm is almost three times above the present actual outlay and is calculated for the complete maintenance of children for 24 hours a day with the largest service staff, consisting entirely of hired help (who have no other social responsibilities).

Given the average number of children in this age group as 13.7 per 100 able-bodied residents, the total expense for them will be 822 r. or 8 r. 22 k. for each one.

Part of these expenses are already covered by social security out of the monthly budget of FUBR; for the sake of simplicity we will take into account these expenses in our general conclusion.

2.  Kindergartens. The cost of complete maintenance of children in kindergarten, according to data of Narkompros RSFSR, is about 50 r. per month including all types of services.  This rate of expense, as with nurseries, is significantly higher than that of the present.

Per 100 able-bodied inhabitants there are 8.7 children of this age (from 4 to 7 inclusive) which give an average cost of maintenance of 435 r. per month or 4 r. 35 k. for each such adult.

3.  School dormitories of for first and second forms. The cost of complete cost of complete maintenance of children of school age (from 8 to 14 inclusive), according to data of Narkompros is (excluding instruction) about 40 r. per month.

Per 100 able-bodied inhabitants there are 1 2.9 children of this age with a consequent average cost of 516 r. per month or 5 r. 16 k. for each such adult.

4. Dormitories for the third form (from 15 to 17 inclusive).  With the average number of youths in this group of 7.8 and the cost of maintenance for each of about 40 r. per month, the total sum of expenses will be 312 r. or 3 r. 12 k. per one such adult.


Thus the expenses for socialized education of children and youths given according to Moscow figures per 100 able-bodied persons can be expressed in the following figures:


1. The children per hundred able-bodied inhabitants

2. Full cost of maintenance for one child

3. Same for all children

4. For each able-bodied person

In Nurseries

In Kindergarten

In Dormitories

Youths (in technical schools)





60 r.


822 r.


4.35 r.




50 r.


435 r.


4.35 r.




40 r.


516 r.






40 r.


312 r.


3.12 r.




48 r. (apprx)


2,085 r.


20.85 r.


From this sum (20 r. 85 k.) must be subtracted expenses already covered otherwise at present:

1.  Social Security expenditures. These expenses compiled for Moscow of present (1929-30) are about 5,000,000 r. per year or 50 k. per month for each taxable adult.  This sum must be increased by 1½ under socialized services the number of working adults (i.e., those insured) per 100 children will increase by 50-60%.  In this way, each insured individual will pay…………75 k.

2.  Budget expenditures of FUBR, cooperatives, etc. (excluding expenses for construction, stipends, etc.) come in 1929-30 to about 20,000,000 per year or about 2 r. per month for those insured, without considering the increase in funds available due to the rise in number of workers (i.e., those insured), but taking into account the rise it would consist of 50-60%.

3.  Stipends to youths and profits from apprentice workshops which must at least ensure financial independence of this group of youths (from 15 to 17); this will cost each insured individual…………3 r. 12 k.

4.  Products of training institutions of the second form out of an outlay of 10 r. per month for each child of this group, or for each insured…………1 r. 29.

Total 8 r. 16 k.

Thus expenses not covered at the present time for each employable member of the adult population of Moscow, taking into account the increase resulting from the growth of the employed (i.e., insured people) will be…………12 r. 69 k., which must be procured in order to cover all current expenses for complete education age all children and youths up through age 17.

Three sources must be tapped for this sum.  First the fund of socialized wages must be increased by raising the rate of insurance fees by a certain percentage (through social insurance) for living needs; then normal growth of the monthly budget will systematically increase the worker’s portion of his expenses for these needs; and finally through partial payment by parents, depending on their wages and the size of their family.

It is easy to 9 therefore, that practically speaking, from the financial viewpoint hardly anything remains to be done by us to create a solid material basis for socialized education of children throughout Moscow.  The whole thing is only a matter of organizing our possibilities and capabilities.

In the provinces, as regards the group of population on we have almost the same picture (the expenses of social insurance and budget are lower, but the wages, [120] the prices of products, etc. are lower still).

Of course the village presents a different scene.  There remains an enormous amount of work to be done there on the reconstruction of agricultural bases, which is the only means of creating the conditions for a corresponding transformation of mutual social aid into a solid socialization of partial income from the population that would be analogous to social insurance.  The solution to this problem — the problem of socialist reconstruction of agriculture — is an essential premise for the institution of full socialization of the living needs of the village population. At the present time, in the countryside it is only possible to create a few nuclei and connecting links as a premise of the future system of a new way of life, in the form of summer nurseries, institutions for orphans, and so on.  Only by means of increasing the growth of the people’s wages and productive labor on the basis of a new organization of agriculture and its mechanization, is a solution conceivable to the problem of reconstructing the village way of life. This must be recalled to comrades who think that only by organizational measures is it possible to skip the hurdles and difficulties that stand on the road to reconstruction of a new way of life in the country.

Cost accounting of socialized feeding, laundries, and other types of communal services for the population need not even be mentioned here since it is obvious that large-scale production will always be many times more economic than a small-scale one.  The whole question reduces itself to the matter of organizational possibilities, the difficulties of which con by no means be underestimated.  Therefore we recommend a certain caution and consistency without which the whole idea of the organization of the new way of life might be discredited.

In establishing an expanding net of socialized feeding and laundries at the present stage we must nevertheless envisage the possibility of individual food preparation and the possibility of individual laundries which in no way signifies a retaining of the system of construction of small family apartments.  While discarding compulsion in instituting the new way of life, we should by no means preserve the old way of life.  On the contrary, all our strength, all attention must be directed toward the creation of a real material basis for the new way of life.

The form of organization of the dwelling with its subsidiary accommodations is one of the most important elements in the organization of the services for the population.  This circumstance must definitely be considered by both our builders and planners as well as by the Soviet public.  Only by achieving an awareness of the organizational role of the habitation in the goal of reconstructing our way of life and consequently in all aspects of our life by the widest possible masses of workers of the USSR will we be able to find the most correct solution to the problem of a new settlement of humanity and the shortest and most rational way to create the material basis for building a new world.

The correct posing and proper solution of the problem of industrial and residential construction in the USSR must create “such conditions for work and living working class, which will give us the opportunity to nurture a new generation of workers, healthy and vital, able to raise the might of our Soviet country to deserving heights and to bodily defend her against encroachment by the enemy” I. Stalin, speech at the XVI Party Congress).

This is why the problem of organizing the battle for the battle for the new way of life must be one of the foremost of our problems.

“Party organizations must render every possible assistance to this movement and direct it ideologically.  Soviet trade unions, and cooperatives must assume practical solutions to the problems connected with this goal.  It is necessary that we observe the various undertakings of workers participating in the reconstruction of the way of life with greatest attention, thoroughly studying the sprouting of the new, and in every way assist their realization in life.”

(From the resolution of the TsK VKP(b) [Central Committee of the Bolshevik Communist Party] Congress of 16 May 1930).”

[Originally published as Соцгород: Проблемы строительства социалистических городов.  (Государственное издательство. Москва-Ленинград: 1930)


~ by Ross Wolfe on November 1, 2010.

7 Responses to “Nikolai Miliutin’s Sotsgorod: The Problem of Building Socialist Cities (1930)”

  1. Can you please set the copy in dark text on a white background? At the moment it’s making my head hurt. Such great stuff deserves to be made as readable as possible.

    • I’m not exactly sure how I’d do that, but I think that if you copy and paste it into Word it’ll retain all of its formatting. Thanks for checking this out.

  2. […] the public baths) will completely free women from this barbaric task.”  Miliutin, Nikolai.  Sotsgorod: The Problem of Socialist Cities.  Translated by Anatole Senkevich.  (MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 1974).  Pg. 76.  Originally […]

  3. […] the public baths) will completely free women from this barbaric task.”  Miliutin, Nikolai.  Sotsgorod: The Problem of Socialist Cities.  Translated by Anatole Senkevich.  (MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 1974).  Pg. 76.  Originally […]

  4. […] Bater, J. H. The soviet city: ideal and reality, 1980. Milutin, N. Sotsgorod: The Problem of Building Socialist Cities, 1930. French, R. A. The socialist city: spatial structure and urban policy, 1979. Gutnov, A. The ideal […]

  5. […] Bater, J. H. The soviet city: ideal and reality, 1980. Milutin, N. Sotsgorod: The Problem of Building Socialist Cities, 1930. French, R. A. The socialist city: spatial structure and urban policy, 1979. Gutnov, A. The ideal […]

  6. I was looking for the bibliographic info of the book Sotsgorod: The Problem of Building Socialist Cities, MIT Press (1974) and I found your website. Here is written that the translator of the text was Anatole Senkevich. I found other sites that inform that the translator was Arthur Sprague. I wonder if these are different editions of the same book, which seems improbable since they were published in the same year by the same press. Could you someone please help with this?

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