22 July 2011

Cталинки, Хрущевки, и брежневки

I finally sorted out the Soviet apartment block styles.  If you walk around a post-Soviet city like Bishkek, it's obvious that there are different building styles and after my Russian teacher told me a little about it, I found out more online.  The series numbers I have listed are what my teacher told me, but I haven't been able to confirm them very well online.

Upscale Stalinka

Stalinkas (104 series) are (obviously) Stalin-era buildings (1927-1953).  They have high ceilings and are built in a more ornate style, but their wooden interior floors cause major problems today.  Stalinkas built for ordinary Soviets weren't very ornate though. The rooms are relatively large, especially the kitchen.  They don't have elevators, although that's not too terrible since these buildings usually aren't taller than four stories.  If I lived on the fourth floor of one, though, I might feel differently.  I also would feel differently about them if I'd had to share one with another family as was common during the Stalin era.  From what I've read, the hot-water system in these buildings wasn't very good either, although the bathrooms and water system obviously vary dramatically since they were built over 25 years.  Currently a Stalinka in good repair is considered to be the best option of these three series, but a Stalinka that hasn't been updated probably can't even handle a vacuum cleaner being plugged in.  I don't believe there are any Stalinkas in Tokmok, but there are in Bishkek.
Khrushchyovka.  I see these often in Kyrgyzstan.

Block method Khrushchyovka

Khrushchyovkas (105 series) are common in Tokmok and Bishkek.  They don't have a great reputation with cramped interiors, thin walls, and narrow passageways.  I've been in my share of these and they really are uncomfortably tight.  Whoever planned the apartments forgot that everyone had to stop at the front door and take off their shoes.  There aren't usually elevators either, but they are generally five stories or less.  The flats usually have from one to three rooms.  Khrushchev built a huge number of these buildings and they began to relieve the housing shortage in the Soviet Union.  In addition to brick buildings, they also used a block method and a panel method.  The panels in particular didn't insulate the flats very well and we often hear that the older blocks are cold in the winter.  Again, the flats have from one to three rooms, but often they didn't have their own bathroom.  I've been told that four families (usually one floor of flats) shared one bathroom.  This series isn't exactly well-regarded today in general, but living in your own apartment in one of these buildings was better than sharing a Stalinka.  One other problem with these flats is that they generally were designed to be occupied for 25-50 years.  Do that math and you'll decide too than a Khrushchyovka isn't for you.


Brezhnevkas (106 series) (1964-1982) are often described as advanced or better Khrushchevkas.  There are lots of these in Bishkek and some in Tokmok.  They generally have toilets in each apartment instead of communal toilets, I believe.  These buildings are often the traditional high-rise examples of Soviet-era apartment blocks and there generally are elevators that might work.  I've been in a nice Brezhnevka and it's not too bad.  I believe that this style of flat is more likely to open into a main hall with all the rooms going off it and there is often a second balcony which is a very nice thing.

(A lot of this info came from various websites, but this master's thesis has lots of information about the 104 and 105 series.  Wikipedia has the most detail about the three styles with lots of information and floor plans and there are other pages on the Khrushchyovkas.  Definitely worth a look.)

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