A new take on mass housing
Dilapidated conditions, demolition, replacement by new
buildings: this is the fate that we now typically associate
with the future of Soviet mass housing but, what can we discover if we
look at the situation from a different angle?
See the current solution / how it used to look
Standard houses are gradually modernised, allowing planners to increase their life expectancy by a factor of two. Gradual updates make it possible to efficiently slow down the process of wholesale breakdown and destruction of standardised housing.
The European Union has adopted the Energy Efficiency Directive which mandates each member country to develop a long-term strategy for the renovation of housing stock without the demolition of buildings in order to improve energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions.
More than 20 European cities, including Rome, Dublin, Padua, Madrid and Wroclaw, have joined the BUILD UPON2 alliance to become pioneers in the implementation of the directive and share best practices in the renovation of housing stock.
How modernisation can help our cities
A new development scenario for standardised housing districts that joins both the preservation and modernisation of the existing buildings can be applied in Russia as well. It will allow cities to improve the quality of the urban environment, increasing the level of comfort for residents and save money in city budgets. To enact such a scenario, three steps must be taken.
Break up city blocks
Transform existing intra-block driveways into full-fledged streets, with organised pedestrian and vehicle paths. The street network will become denser, while blocks will become more compact. This will increase the permeability of these areas and allow people to move more freely around them.
Diversify the variety of buildings
Without turning immediately to demolition, new residential and public buildings can be built in areas free of construction. In addition to modernising existing buildings, the possibility to move into a new building nearby should also be made available to those who are so inclined. Urban areas will be used more efficiently, and there will be the possibility to improve living conditions in one’s current home, or exchange their apartment for a new one in the same district.
Fill in the gaps
Reconfigure ground floors of residential buildings to house new services and uses. Filling such gaps will allow cities to create unbroken and active street frontages. Neighbourhoods will become more varied and lively, and residents will gain access to new functionality and services within a short walk of their homes.