Mikhail Okhitovich, “On the Problem of the City” (1929)
From Sovremennaia arkhitektura 1929 (no. 4, pgs. 130-134)
It is necessary to reassess the nature of the possible in accordance with the requirements of the epoch.
Under present conditions, with public servicing and utilities whose cost is proportional to the width of the plot, the dwelling has had to be built upwards and backwards, and it must be constructed of strong and durable materials on solid foundations.
Does it emerge that the crowded town is the inevitable result of the technical and economic possibilities? Does it emerge that all other solutions to the problem are technically or economically impossible?
The city is a specific socially, not territorially, determing human reality…It is an economic and cultural complex.
The question to be elucidated is now, must the different functions of the ‘city’ exist in one body; will they become fatally estranged by separation, as the parts of a living organism would be? In other words, is the growth of huge crowding, including ‘socialist’ crowding, of people, buildings, and so forth on one spot inevitable, or not?
The planning of an industrial enterprise can now reflect the possibilities of conveyor belt production on the scale of the whole national economy, and eventually of the whole world economy.
The exceptional growth in the strength, quality, quantity, and speed of the means of mechanical transport now permits separation from centers: space is here measured by time. And this time is itself beginning to be shortened.
The revolution in transportation, the automobilization of the territory, reverses all the usual arguments about the inevitability of congestion and the crowding together of buildings and apartments.
We ask ourselves, where will we resettle all the urban population and enterprises? Answer: not according to the principle of crowding, but according to the principle of maximum freedom, ease and speed of communications possibilities.
All these linked functions make up a single organizational complex. But the city was also a complex. Having destroyed one form of the city, will we not be creating a new city? If you like a quarrel about terminology, let this complex be a city.
Let us call it, shall we say, the Red city of the planet of communism.
If one talks about the essence, then this new complex will be called not a point, a place, or a city, but a process, and this process will be called disurbanization.
Disurbanization is the process of centrifugal force and repulsion. It is based on just such a centrifugal tendency in technology…which reverses all former assumptions. Proximity is here a function of distance; community is now a function of separateness.