are bewildered: having thrown a rather crude general idea into public,
they defined it as a national project and allocated quite decent,
albeit insufficient, funds to its implementation. The melancholic
comment uttered by Marquis de Custine 150 years ago proves just
again: «They always begin with performance in Russia.» Drawn by
lucre, Moscow-based construction corporations are pushing their
model throug h Rosstroi: the apartment house, preferably a panel
one — and they hope to secure financial injections to restore DSC
(house-building combines) all over the country.
Yet there are other influential forces with their own spokesmen
who brought their ideas home even to Chairman of the State Duma
Boris Gryzlov who stated: «We? ll not be able to provide our people
with housing without shifting a settlement pattern — from inner
cities to suburbs.» Mr. Gryzlov suggested that suburban lands
formally defined as ‘agricultural? be converted to settlement
lands. Many journalists, including Alexander Krivov and myself,
have been raising an outcry over the existing practice in media,
but they would make a laughing-stock of us or wouldn? t listen
at all. Why this change in attitudes? Could it be a belated response
to media and public appeals?
However distressing it may seem, the architectural community
now faces the same challenge it had to meet in the middle of the
previous century — the time of great resettlement from communal
flats and basements. In those days the famous panel five-storey
house by Vitaly Lagutenko, a symbol of the new era, helped the
architects out of their predicament. It took the architects two
decades to somewhat improve the plan of those flats and slightly
decorate them, overcoming the resistance of ‘house-building combines?.
However, they failed to change the house-building philosophy that
resulted in appalling monotony of the entire urban environment.
When turbulent commercial housing development started in the mid
nineties and individual design for the needs of private investors
came to the fore, the architectural guild relaxed and enjoyed
the piece-work, having almost forgotten how to design large residential
Today the guild is unable to respond in any sensible way to a
new social order again. Now another engineer is about to fill
the vacant leadership position — a stronger businessman engineer,
good at establishing cooperative ties with the new stronger bureaucracy.
The Ural Association of Builders decided to raise satellite towns
in Chelyabinsk suburbs at the initiative of Chelyabinsk entrepreneur
Arthur Nikitin. Wonderful! The model is based on the «closed courtyard»
principle. A courtyard encircled with two П-shaped houses is an
enclosed and guarded ground. Turnpikes block all entryways while
the parking space is brought out beyond the housing estate. Construction
works won? t take more than two or three years. Builders believe
that the selling price of 1 sq. m. in such a satellite town won?
t exceed RUR 15,000. Administrative buildings, a cinema, stores
and a clinic are clustered in the core of a town.