Project: Common place
After the 1917 Revolution a housing crisis began in St Petersburg. The Communist Party’s decision was to requisition large parts of the upper class people’s living space for new working class tenants. This new form of housing became known as “communal apartments” or “kommunalka” in Russian. Usually the people in a communal apartment had nothing in common except for the intimate spaces that they shared. Each family lived in one room, sharing a common kitchen, hallway, lavatory and bathroom, which became highly contested public spaces. The revolutionary goal was to suppress the bourgeoisie and nurture the Soviet “new man”. The “new man” was supposed to be trained to participate joyously in collective existence, and despise “personal” or “private property” but in fact such coexistence in overcrowded urban flats led to a very unusual form of Soviet life and culture, becoming a core experience for generations of Russians. In St Petersburg nowadays there are over 1 mln of people living in kommunalkas.