Address: 13, bld 4 Myasnitskaya str., Moscow 101000,
Phone: +7 (495) 772-95-90 ext. 12-604, 12-605,
12-368 (transportation planning),
12-150 (PR & communications)
Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism (GSU) is a learning and research division of the Faculty of Urban and Regional Development of the National Research University Higher School of Economics. Founded in 2011, the School takes a multidisciplinary approach towards studying and planning modern cities, using the excellent foundation that one of Russia’s top universities has formed in the humanities and socioeconomics. The School’s mission is to create a centre in Russia for learning and research in urban studies and urban planning. It is envisioned that this centre will respond to the needs of the 21st century city and the corresponding era of megacities that are home to tens of millions of people with diverse interests and aspirations. These are cities where sources of information grow and the space for civil, creative, and economic opportunities expands. From 2016 the School is officially named in honor of its first dean and one of the founders — Alexander Vysokovsky (1948-2014).
Ryzhkov A., Sarzhan Y.
Research in Transportation Economics. 2020.
Ilina I. N., Dunichkin I. V.
In bk.: Sustainability in Energy and Buildings. Singapore: Springer, 2020. P. 519-529.
Muleev Y. Y.
Urban and Transportation Studies. URB. НИУ ВШЭ, 2020. No. 9.
Concept of modern large housing appeared after World War II when cities were growing fast and more people needed a place to live. XX century was a century of mass urbanization. So, housing shortage was widely considered as the most pressing social problem for all industrialized cities. That’s why the post-war world was obsessed with the idea of giving light, air and privacy for every city dweller and utopian vision of welfare society.
Architects and city planners all over the world were involved in finding the solution. Soviet and German constructivist architects developed a concept of ideal typical buildings. As a result, the new type of housing appeared: panel block buildings. In fact, most of the mass housing built in the 1950s had solved the problem. Homelessness rate decreased and standard of living had improved. But further destiny of large housing estates in different countries depended on social discourse and politics.
Socialist dream of mass availability of well-being has crashed and there were several reasons for that. It can be illustrated by cases of Moscow and Berlin. Both in two cities, the modern concept of large housing was an innovation that excited the society. It was a symbol of justice for everyone. But later, when social discourse changed criteria of “good” and ‘bad’ architecture.
Example of Berlin shows how fast attitudes can change throughout one year. Crucial moment that catalyzed mass dissatisfaction with large housing (exactly Märkisches Viertel, a huge district in West Berlin) was a fair for young architects
Berlin city council generously invested in this event and got a lot of negative feedback on building policy in turn. Criticism of large housing in Berlin included: ‘grayness and monotony’, shoddy construction, poor infrastructure (lack of schools, shops and public transport) and high rents. Actually none of this referred to building design, but closely related to social problems and inequality in access to privileges.
In Moscow modern mass housing came with the large soviet program by Nikita Khrushchev launched in 1955. It was a success and symbolized triumph of the city in anticipation with the village. However, it had an obvious flaw — extreme tightness of living space. Statistics showed that in the 1950’s soviet city dwellers had only seven 7 square meters in a flat. Background of this housing was a belief of progress and development and a vision that it is scientifically founded and based on expert solutions.
Later, in the 1970's different housing in city districts highlighted the inequality of Soviet society. Elites were still living in old stalin buildings, more spacious and convenient, surrounded by better infrastructure and social spaces. On the opposite, modern panel buildings settled by the work class had none of these privileges.
It is definitely possible to make a better quality of life in mass housing. States should participate more in housing policy. For example, the government can control the level of rent cost and create social innovation (for districts development) through improved building strategy.