Russian Apartments, Russian Real Estate

During Soviet times architectural imagination was outlawed, overruled by diabolical logic and practicality. A planner's goal was to fit as many people into the smallest space possible, in the shortest amount of time. The social consequences of cramming thousands of poor people into a sardine box were ignored. Robbers, rapists, flashers, pick pockets and sunflower seed munching petty thugs lurk the anthill of damp passages and dark corners of its 70 plus floors, and 22 unit breadth of the "Kvartirni Blok". A solid steel door and daylight are cherished commodities for the honest, hard working Russians trying to forge ahead in uncertain times.

Angered by lawlessness and a lack of police protection, residents of these dwellings have begun to form Citizen Watchgroups that band together to chase out the thugs if no one else will.

Public demand for smaller housing, the kind that fosters community, not quantity, has made giant Soviet housing projects nearly extinct. Few new ones are built, older units are systematically being demolished, and their residents relocated to smaller, friendlier accommodations.

Log Cabin

A 12x12 foot box constructed of pine. Even in major metropolis size cities, log cabins defiantly sit next to high rise tenements. They have no running water or gas hookup, and food is cooked on a fire stove, which generally burns old shoes and tires as wood is illegal to chop in this country of endless forest. The outside world of automobiles and concrete is dimly visible through two smudged windows.

Paneli (Pre-Fab High Rise)

The Soviet "super worker" was fabled to assemble 5,000 panels in one day but factory shortages and lack of transport left construction sites idle. Many of the high rise symbols of a futuristic society were built, though not nearly enough to provide for every family. Apartments in these buildings were designed for a young couples, but instead housed several generations. It is not unusual too see beds set up in both the kitchen and bathroom.

"Pre-Stalin"

Russians once laid brick with European quality until caravans of untrained, unskilled "super workers" flooded the labor market. When renting an apartment no unit is more sought after than one of Pre-Stalin construction. Many are willing to pay for the luxury of not having their building collapse on them while sleeping. A quiet night's rest is assured, as two foot walls thick walls offer decent protection against a 10 kiloton thermonuclear blast.

Khrushchovki (Khrushchov's Boxes)

These apartments are 15x15 foot boxes with sheet rock walls that section out into a kitchen, bathroom, and living room. Khrushchov pushed their construction to alleviate a housing shortage faced by low income families in the 1960s. With thousands of apartments now owned by real estate speculators, supply has practically vanished since the oil boom fueled economic reversal of 2001. These units are now priced out of reach for the poor workers they were intended for.