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Goodbye, Khrushchevki

Soviet Housing in Post-Soviet Europe

Category Archives: transportation

I arrived in Riga, Latvia a few days ago by train from Moscow. The trip was 14 hours long, and was generally pleasant. The compartment was no more cramped than the hostels I have been staying at, and the nice train sounds and motions ensured a better sleep.

Fig 1. Stopover in Russia.

My days in Riga so far have been extremely busy. I have been meeting with many people, including a professor from Riga Technical University, and several students that are pursuing research projects similar to mine. I have also explored the city’s pre-war central district with Artis Zvirgzdiņš and taken a bike trip through many of the city’s microrayons with Aleksandrs Feltins. Aleksandrs is a student at the university, and Artis is a former student and now editor of http://www.a4d.lv. They have both been extremely helpful and accommodating during my stay in Riga.

I am currently working on several future posts that will cover some of the topics raised during my conversations in Riga, documentation of the city’s microrayons, and some initial comparisons between what I have discovered in Moscow and Riga.

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Moscow Metro is the world’s second most heavily used rapid transit system after Tokyo‘s twin subway, with nearly 9 million people using the subway everyday. The key to its widescale use is a combination of the still relatively low levels of car ownership in Moscow (which has been going up steadily in the last decade), and the system’s speed and efficiency.

In my experience, during rush hours the trains run once a minute, and during off-peak I have never experienced a wait of more than 5 minutes. Compare this with New York City MTA, which runs a maximum of one train every four minutes, even during rush hour, which it attributes to safety reasons and the maximum capacity of the lines.

Constructed beginning in 1935, the Moscow Metro was the first subway in the Soviet Union, and was a major factor in the location of the suburban Microrayons. Because of the subway, the large residential areas could be located away from the city center where it was easier to build, but still provide a way for the residents to get to work.

Despite the widescale use and efficiency of the Metro system, the traffic problems on Moscow’s highways are some of the worst in the world.

Kicked off the trip today with a long series of flights into Moscow. Tomorrow morning I will visit several Microrayons in the Moscow area, including the Cheryomushki area, which was one of the first Microrayons, and a test bed for many of the typologies later introduced throughout the Soviet Union.

In the evening, I will meet with Ekaterina Plotnikova and Varvara Melnikova from Strelka Institute to discuss my research project into Soviet Microrayons, the Khrushchevka typology, and the future direction of this new and exciting design school in Moscow. Images and a synopsis of the conversation will follow.

For now I will rest from my 30 hours of no sleep and get a fresh start tomorrow morning.

July 20th – Arrive Moscow Domodedovo, RU (DME) 3:45 pm
July 25th – Train to Riga, Latvia
July 30th – Train to Minsk, Belarus
August 3rd – Train to Kiev, Ukraine
August 7th – Train to Bucharest, Romania
August 11th – Train to Oradia, Romania
August 15th – Train to Budapest, Hungary
August 18th – Depart Budapest, HU (BUD) 8:40 am