Oksana Zhukova (Estonian University of Life Sceinces); Simon Bell (Estonian University of Life Sciences)

The Krushchkevka and the Dom Kultura:
Urban Lifestyles in a Rural Setting

Collectivisation in the Soviet Union, including the Baltic States, involved many aspects related to living conditions and architecture. One of the dominant images of village centres in Estonia and Latvia is that of the standardised urban forms of blocks of flats and other buildings such as schools and administrative buildings. On collectivisation, new village centres arose, promising “Urban lifestyles in a rural setting”. There are very few designs for blocks of flats – standardisation came in with Krushchev and the first generation of flats built of white brick became known as “Krushchevki”. Alongside these were buildings to serve as places where the new Soviet cultural activities could take place – the “Dom Kultura” which, in contrast to the standard flats, was often of a special one-off design. These can often be found to be abandoned and derelict nowadays, since they have no function and represented the Soviet regime. The objective of this study was to examine the plans and initial proposals for several kolkhoz centres and, using computer aided-design, to recreate 3D models of the building ensemble as it was originally planned, to compare this to what was actually built and to what remains now and the extent to which they are still used. We found that while the standard flats were built according to plan, external landscape features were often omitted. The unique designs of the culture houses often contained many interesting Modernist or even post-modernist features but changed during construction and were often built of poor materials and finishes. They were vandalised, robbed of materials and are now abandoned in many cases. Their architects often went on to make a post-Soviet career and there is considerable interest in their designs. They represent a lost legacy of the period

Full-text available here: DOI: 10.1051/SHSCONF/20196308001