Blok City

From the standard urban block towards an Urban Block Standard

Probably the biggest revolution ever in architecture happened in 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev banned Stalinist classicism and demanded a radical industrialization of the building industry.1 Architects that had excelled in creating beautiful palaces for the people were put aside in favour of the building industry, which was assigned to improve construction quality and raise production figures. Khrushchev was certainly not the first to consider industrialization to be the only way to the lift the shortage of housing. While Stalin’s infamous ‘sugar pies’ were erected in Moscow, in Western Europe prefabricated housing systems were developed that were meant to serve the enormous demand for housing that resulted from the devastation of the Second World War. Not surprisingly it was Western Europe – France, to be more precise – that inspired Khrushchev to demand a de-Stalinization of architecture. Yet in the Soviet Union the industrialization of housing construction would find its most radical form. It fitted seamlessly into both the ideology and the economic system. Marxism promoted the application of scientific methods to find the right solutions to the needs of society, as opposed to capitalism, which promoted competition – a method that in the eyes of the Soviets only resulted in speculation and profit…


  • The moment can be dated 7 December 1954, when Krushchev held a speech for the National Conference of Architects and Builders. The text of this speech was published in the Pravda newspaper. An abridged version in Russian and English was published in: Bart Goldhoorn (ed), ‘Microrayon’, PROJECT RUSSIA, no 25 (2002), 12-17.