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Microrayon re-invented fragmentation of the connective tissue Bibirevo Moscow




By Merve Yucel





The Connective Tissue


Bibirevo Fragmented








Microrayon, definition of the primary structural element of the residential area construction in Russian cities after the 60s that has been subject to massive changes in the last 20 years. The absence of private land, private investors and private builders, the need of urgent housing stock and ideology of unification, have been the perfect breeding ground for the occurrence of these large housing areas with highly standardized apartment blocks. But the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to a sharp decline in management, construction and organization in the Microrayon and challenged the very normative concepts of living. In a positive vein, this also triggered a set of creative, innovative and opportunistic processes that help structure the most important part of a society, the social actions and organizations.


We will explore how these transformations have become visible in physical spaces of the Microrayon Bibirevo, and the contributions of its actors in order to realize them. This book is published as a result of the research done in Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, with the tutorship of Stefano Boeri and Francisca Insulza.The aim of the research is to have a comprehensive understanding of the urban processes in question for the post-soviet context of Moscow. The book has a uniquely subjective approach, combining different gazes and perspectives. We hope not to answer questions but to give voice to the emergent protagonists, and understand the changes in the daily life experiences. Merve Yucel


The Myth





MONOCENTRIC PLANNINGsociety of production








standardized buildinghonesty gap


Khruschev’s speechcenrtralized planningkommunalkacommunal living

K20growthconnective tissue1956 soullesstop-downexperimentRIGID Soviet Empoweredstability public equalitycity labour








urbanization unifiedRussiacommunist blocksconnectivetissue socialcontrol stairways


















Aleksander gets up at 7. two-bedroom apartment o crorayon Zvezda located 15 at 8:05 A.M. and walks to his ment building. He spends 6 pm Alexander goes home to at a government offi earlier; he needed to another one to

14:05 Sacha comes from school 8:05 Sacha leaves home

15:25 Sacha plays wi his frineds

8:10 Sacha arrives at school


.15 AM. He lives with his mother and father in a on the second floor of a typical nine story, mi5 km away from the city center. He leaves home s school, across the courtyard from the aparthours at school, including lunch break. At 2:00 an empty apartment. His mother left for her job ice (4km away by city bus).His father left even to take the same bus route and then transfer reach his factory (10 km away). At 4:00 P.M. he leaves home to walk over to the bakery shop on the corner, which is only 10 minutes away. He walks a total distance during the day about 1.5 km, almost all of which is within his own microrayon. ith 16:45 Sacha goes to the bakery


GENERIC CITY It was not only the urban blocks that were unified but also the interiors of the apartments were almost the same.


After Khrushchev’s speech in 1956, the microrayon concept became accepted as the fundamental building unit for planning urban expansion. This structure was rigid and had a standard layout that consists of a number of large urban blocks separated by main roads, greenways and natural obstacles.

use the traditional Soviet methods of standard housing design and construction. Today the microrayon dominates the Moscow urbanity. Moreover the existing buildings have an expiration date, and the strategies to deal with this heritage remain insufficient.

This allowed an overall reduction in the city road constructions and emphasized public transportation. There are secondary roads serving inside the block. A public service building such as a school or a kindergarten forms the center of the block. The idea is that children can reach the schools without crossing major roads. This design was focused on the production of an industrialized, rationalized and massively urbanized society. The uniformity of residential buildings represented equality and stability in the Soviet Union. This indeed was the success of the microrayons. Everybody lived here. A university professor, a factory worker and a bus driver could all be neighbors living in the same building.

The idyllic ‘modern’ environment dominated the Russian urban landscape. Moscow demonstrates the reality of scale and territorial implications of a socialist city. Similarity of Soviet urbanity, despite the context and cultural implications was essential.

From the 1950’s and for over 30 years, the Microrayon was the only form of housing built in Moscow. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, other forms of housing has also appeared but the city still continues to


Model of a typical residential dwelling inner space.


Irony of Fate, Enjoy your Bath!

Yevgeny Lukashin had just moved into a newly built, high-rise apartment in Moscow. With his old friends, they have a tradition of going the banya on the New Years Eve, where there is too much steam and plenty of vodka. After drinking one too many, it is time to go home to his fiancé for Yevgeny, but first he has to drop his friend, who is going to St Petersburg, to the airport. After departing from him, Yevgeny gets on a cab to go home and gives his address to the taxi driver “Construction Workers’ Street”. Thankfull for arriving home despite the confusing influence of the vodka, he opens the door lock. Inside he finds the same apartment layout and even the furniture exactly the same, except for the screaming woman that is not his fiance. Only after an hour of argument with the stranger, he realizes that he is the one who flew to St Petersburg,

instead of his friend. How could he end up in a different city with exactly the same street name, the same apartment, the same lock, the same furniture? This should be an absurd comedy!!! The storyline of the famous Russian movie, Irony of Fate expressively illustrates the context, an absurd reality of scale and territorial implications of a socialist city.



Hierarchical structure of Soviet urban planning and design PHYSICAL PLANNING & CONTRUCTION







Stroybank USSR

Republic Gosplans

Republic Storybanks

Goskom Arkitektura

Functional Ministries

Ministries specialized in construction

Central, design institutes

Republic Gosstroy

Republic Councils Ministers

Republic research, design institutes

Oblast design institute

Oblast executive committee

Republic Ministries

main construction directories Oblast Plan. Committees

Oblast directories construction architecture

OFF, Town Architect

Republic Ministries

Oblast office of Storybanks

Enterprise under construction Field Mge’t

Dept. City architect Town Planning Commission

Office of Storybanks

construction trusts


Microrayon Marfino and the Constr uction Co ntro l or

z ad


is Ved for t Com

re plan sponsib le fo tatio st r agr rict re n, clean collec t g e e m ent ulations ing, sec ing tr as with h u the All inha rity and , com bita ha p a ny b nts sig s n efor e se an ttling in

k Te


is Ved

foreign par tner s

NII -C Ins entr ti a de residtutiol Scie vel en n f nt op tia or ific me l nts






Ilya Mukosev

Physi ca

l Pla

esig D &

oes hat d any t connects p m co d ecial ls an and a sp approva tecture anies ic h e th e arc n comp th r uctio t cons


nni ng

nical Tecehnt Cli

NII oubishes catalogues for the approved building series there are 4 different series used for Marfino

ltural Agriecur prise Ent



monopoly of design process... The role of the designer was to achieve perfection, by generating the strict Construction Rules and Regulations. The hierarchy of actors in city planning ensured that all land use decisions were made administratively. Today, within a capitalist system, these relationships have changed. Ilya Mukosev, a local architect, tells us the story of the design, management and construction in the Microrayon Marfino. His biggest complaint is about the entity, Technical Clients, a special company that obtains the approvals and connects the architecture and construction companies. In Marfino the design was made by Mosprojekt (50% state owned design company), Ilya’s small architecture firm was responsible for landscape design. He unburdens his troubles about the obscene amounts of money he has to pay to the Technical Client; whereas Mosprojekt, a State funded huge entity, can easily manage this amount. He explains that this unfair situation resulted in dissolution of manysmall-scale private offices. For that reason they initiated to form organization of around 50 companies to get the permits.

Ilya explainns that they have to pay an annual fee, an entrance fee and insurance funds to be a memeber of this organization. Marfino was recently a matter of public discussion. Ex-major Mr Luzhkov came to the construction site and promoted underground parking projects. As a result Mosprojekt was commisioned an other project for underground parking.

‘‘The rules of urban planning are even more strict than Soviet times. ’’ The monopoly of state is now transfered into private companies. The developer Vedis, has a branch company that is repsonsible for management. This company is responsible for collecting trash, planting greenery, cleaning and security control. The micorrayon has 2 working gates. It is a half gated format, the gate is for cars not for pedestrians. The environment is also controlled by an agreement signed by the inhabitannts, stating that they wont change anything in public spaces after they move in. The strory of design process in Marfino reminds me of the famous novel by George Orwell.


The Soviet utopia is almost becoming a distopia


ARITHMETICAL EQUATIONS... Microrayons have been subject to massive changes since the start of privatization in 1991. The so-called transition from a socialist to a market economy may generally speaking have been completed by the early 21st century but the process in the housing sector is not yet finished. Deteriorating apartments, new constructions, housing scams and expert’s debates are constant subjects of discussion in the Russian media. This draws attention to State’s policies in dealing with this Soviet heritage. The transition represents the tendency towards the ‘commodification’ of places, which are exposed not only to economic, but also to social and cultural transformations. But the top-down strategies to adapt these structures to Post-Soviet context still remain superficial and inefficient.

demolition erasure

densification additiona floors

public space rennovation


addition of new buildings

infrastructural reconstruction

new constructions

Since 2002 City Hall has been designating five-story khrushcheby, for removal and replacement. This is not only expensive, but also a destruction of social and cultural heritage. According to initial plans the Khrushchev’s slums should have long ago disappeared from the face of Moscow. In the last 5 years 1477 buildings have been demolished. By 2014, 1512 more buildings are scheduled for demolition, which implies that the inhabitants of these buildings are waiting to be evicted and relocated. The Soviet habit of conceiving the shelter in terms of geometric area and a checklist of conveniences still continue. It appears to be hard for the city authorities to understand the human attachment to place, to home and neighborhood. An other option is infrastuctural reconstructions and rennovations. In the last two years 866 building have been rennovated. Generally these interventions are limited to sheating or painting. The repetition of faded colors in the facades creates an other type of absurd harmony. There are many other strategies, like adding floors or new buildings to densify or "My yard, my porch," programs to beautify. The recent transition process is a fundamental re-evaluation of the territory with respect to the location, functioning and reorganization of productive activity (Hamilton, 1995).


URBAN POLICY During Soviet times, the role of urban rent and other market mechanisms were neglected which resulted in elimination of resources for urban development. The new policies are almost totally


and the fastest possible abandonment of all aspects of

state socialism is essential. The focus is on least possible role for the state comparing to free market and private ownership., This results, in a

MARKET-DRIVEN production of

space and creates an environment for the rise of various actors with the capacity to influence governance more than those in political power. Such a regime can’t reintegrate fragmented local

CIVIL SOCIETY Municipal offices lack sufficent institutional capacity and they

look at NGO’s actors to play the role in providing the social safety net. Or the community/individuals take the initiative to substitute the lack of state or local governanace. It would not be a mistake to say, that the populations of the microrayons are not able to protect themselves against developers in such an environment. Considerding the vast numeber of demolitions of five storey buildings.


a phenomenon. The present social mix is a legacy of the socialist city, But is this soon to be changed?

Five months later a new list of buildings to be demolihed were released


Story of a demolition Typically when the city approves a new development

Februar 2003 Protest against the quality of the new public housing given to those relocated residents.


Mr Luzhkov positioned himself as a friend of public and fired the chief housing inspector. The city sat up a ‘HOTLINE’.

Mr Luzhkov was forced to acknowledge that such an aproach (rennovation) will save the city a lot of money and made comments in favor of rennovations.

proposed by a private developer part of the recompense is to be paid in kind, up to 40% of a residential

complex’s elite apartments. To avoid building public

housing developers usually pay the city in cash or built it somewhere else.

Even after being convinced about the quality of the new housing residents were still not willing to leave their neighborhood to the periphery. But the city authorities conceive shelter in terms of geometric area and checklist conveniences.

Gazeta publishes a list of resettler’s rights including the right to refuse resttlement (2004)



demolition erasure

Between 2005-2010 1477 buildings have been demolished not onlyexpensive but also destruction of social cultural heritqage



By 2014 1512 buildings are scheduled for demolition


infrastructural reconstruction

Between 2008-2010 866


new-skin addition

housing units have been repaired


Tushino-North built in late-60’s has characteristics of earlier era than the other districts patterns, the whole urban structure consists of strokes

Cheryomushki One of the first examples. A site of experimentation, The name is associated with such housing projects

Yaseneovo most populous of Moscow microrayons. in 1999 neighbourhood autorities started redesigning its yards with themes like ‘World of fairytales’


SCALE OF MICRORAYONS IN MOSCOW Bibirevo after the name of the village Bibirevo, One of the greenest areas in Moscow. Area: 645 ha 2510 00m2

Veshnyak-Vladykino interesting strokes of public spaces. The quality of construction is the worst in Moscow from that period,

Orekhovo-Borisovo remarkable for its temporal unity. Built in 1974 contains many of the popular building series of the 70s.



BIBIREVO Area : 645 ha Housing stock : 251 000m2 Population : 149 500people Bibirevo is a microdistric located in the northeast edge of Moscow. It is one of the greenest areas in the city. Name of the district comes from the former village located in the same area, meaning beaver. Construction of the first microrayons in the area began in late 60’s. Most of the population has been settled here from the center of the city. The metro station was opened only in 1992, till then public transportation was a major problem. Since then offices, shops and other commercial activities have rapidly developed around the Bibirevo metro station.


Individuals adjusted the environmentally inadequate elements to their advantage. A myriad Changes in the facades -balcony extensions -first floor additional

library addition garage collectives

kiosks supermarket

babushkas street vendors


of autorized, semi autorized or illegal adaptations of urban space started to take place agricultural land cultivation small gardens

changes in the interior privatized space pigeon houses

Masonary addition of two floors

fleuners of Bibirevo public meeting room used for non-residential commercialization window bars fences steel doors

cars parked on secondary roads public spaces home-office commercialized apartment trade on first floor

new housing unit with fenced garden


piegeon houses

balcony extensions

material changes

garage collectives

additional rooms in

parking garages

facade changes

interior design

rakushka appropriation


urban argiculture Micro-transformations

fenced gardens

supermarkets first floor commercialization

home-offices kiosks insecurity

babushkas street vendors

fences around schools steel doors

window bars


MICROTRANSFORMATIONS Today the connective tissue of the Soviet is fragmented and appropriated by a multitude of private owners. Moscow is becoming an urban texture flooded by a diffuse tremor of microtransformations. The shift from state regulation to market economy benefited the informal user strategies in the microrayon.


Ever since the first residents moved in late 60’s, the micro transformations have started. Lubov, is a babushka, who has been living here for 36 years. Her deceased husband was a worker in a research institute. She lives in a 38 sq meter apartment, with her son, daughter in law and two grandchildren. She feels they are lucky to live here, away from the chaos of the city, but complains about her small flat. When they first moved in, there were only 2 microrayons built, the greenery and the public buildings were not yet finished. So, Lubov’s husbands took the initiative to organize the community and plant the greenery themselves. She is very proud of this story. As we continue our conversation, she explains that from the very beginning, they had heating and plumbing problems in the apartment. So the second thing they did was to close their balconies. She explains that the beauty of these balconies depends on the income of the resident. There are 4 different private companies in her block that constructs these balcony facades. Hers is covered with various pieces of wood, aluminum, and copper. The diversity of these balconies has exceeded the limits of the microrayon. It is a form of differentiation that can be seen all around the city.


Lubov’s balcony

DIFFERENTIATION changes in the facades, balcony extensions, interior design


After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, owners of the standard microrayon apartments started the privatization of their units internally as well. In the last twenty years, has emerged a mass interior design industry through websites and interior design firms. Which style represents you the best? Baroque, Classic, Provence, Minimal?


APPROPRIATION Ever since the beginning inhabitants felt responsible for their private spaces, but the communal spaces – including staircases, lifts and courtyards – were considered public property and treated as a kind of no-man’s land that everyone could use but no one cared for. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union people have gained the possibility to own their apartments. But legal ownership is not necessarily the limit of the private realm. Those who feel responsible can earn the ownership by taking care of these spaces. In Bibirevo most of the porticos (Russian word for staircases) are dirty and smelly. Walking around the neighborhood, we come across a small agriculture garden in the entrance of apartment No: 12. Three babushkas, Anna, Tatyana and Alexandra took the initiative to plant this small garden. They grow tomatoes, peppers and cabbages on approximately 25 sq meters of land. They invite us inside the apartment; the entrance hall is almost like a small living room, with plants and paintings. on the walls. The elevator, which is very dirty in other buildings, is very clean and decorated with paintings. All the staircases are embellished with plants, and the small windows are covered with curtains.

The seventh floor, where Anna lives is the most remarkable one. She has a variety of beautiful flowers matching the colors of the wall paintings made by her grandchildren. The three babushkas are deservedly very proud of themselves for initiating a common thoughtfulness in the community. Their achievement is not only limited to the glorified commo spaces. They have also pioneered the establishment of a cooperative in this apartment.



The public spaces of the microrayon are spaces for localities. They are fragile and can easily be disrupted by intruding elements. After the fall of the Socialist regime, with fast automobilization the inner courtyards of the microrayon started to flood with cars and their newly built shelters, the rakushka (Russian word for sea shell, used to describe the individual car garages). They arrived in the dead of night, mostly without official permission as an act of land squatting. These appropriations of public space are fragmenting the fragile open spaces of the microrayon, but at the same time generating new social gathering places.

They can serve many other functions such as workshops, bars, storage units, and can even substitute a home when you want to avoid your wife. In Bibirevo they are usually found in various hybrids of groups on the corners of the blocks. The scale of these structures has exceeded the limits of the microrayons, they

can be found all around the city. In some cases, these garage agglomerations are small villages in the fringes of the microrayons.


Where do I keep my car then?

If you have the car shell and it happens to be close to your home, then why should you sell it

These car shells spoil the image of our city

The car shells are not architectural masterpieces. But look out the window: Is it the rakushka that is the ugliest element of the landscape or is it the monotonous gray concrete boxes, which we live in?

Capitalism destroyed the inner logic of the microrayon


INFORMAL USES dry your laundry by the help of trees

a gazebo decorated with a carpet and a mirror



Children building a small house

a bench made from wood pieces in front of the apartment



fences, window bars, steel doors... a symbol of salvation from forced collectivity or an evidence of a society, which fears crime?

The microrayon was designed to be a safe environment for its community. The initial designs had no fences, no boundaries except for the major roads surrounding the blocks. Even staircases of apartment buildings were open and were used for informal socializing. Public buildings such as schools or kindergartens were accessible to everyone. Openness forced or voluntary, was a fundamental aspect of the microrayons. Nowadays, the spatial implications of the desire for privacy is visible through bars in the windows, steel doors and fences. One of the major changes in the structure of the microrayon, is the appearance of fences around the schools and kindergartens, which alters the accessibility and mobility of individuals in public spaces.


fences in first floor windows

fences around school and kindergartens

steel doors and locks



During the time of transition commerce also left its mark on the post-socialist Moscow. Consolidation of public life was achieved mostly by individual practices. Though commercial adaptations in Bibirevo follow the patterns of daily routines of the inhabitants, they are a more complex and show phenomena that act on several layers. First there is the commercialization of previously

residential spaces, when shops are established in the first floors of residential blocks. On one street this has developed to an excess creating an awkward environment along the sidewalk. Second, we can observe the commercialization of areas that were previously used for non-residential functions, for example in the case of former community meeting rooms that have been transformed for commercial use. This is a relatively well functioning solution. Third, the appearance of temporary buildings: tents, kiosks, portable stands or informal markets in the public spaces. Fourth, is the addition of new buildings within the microrayon layout, such as supermarkets. This could also be described as an evolution of informal commercial activity. There are four supermarkets in Bibirevo, two of them near the metro station, which were constructed during the recent years. Finally, an emerging phenomena that has little or no spatial impact is the transformation of residences into offices.





Kiosks always existed in the Soviet Union. Alexander Rodchenko in 1919 won a competition for a "stand for the distribution of printed matter". In 1971 there were officially 5915 Moscow stands and kiosks. In the mid-80s older women ("babushkas") appeared to offer goods for sale mainly on to transportation hubs. Their locations became a few years later, the locations of the first kiosks. By no later than 1992, with the introduction of the free market economy, thousands of kiosks flooded the streets of Moscow. In Bibirevo, they are usually grouped around the corners of the blocks,

Meeting points between selforganization and daily needs, these kiosks may easily adapt to seasonal scarcities. Microrayons depend on such trading resources to make their environment more habitable.


Until now, the idea of civic responsibility, which has been produced at the level of municipal political life, has not become a feature of the Russian mentality. The idea of self-management is still exotic even for the active minority of the cultural elite, which continues to connect their expectations with ‘a good and educated chief

Vyacheslav Glazychev


THE EMERGENT ACTORS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS The story of microrayon is about the new forms of democracy in the Russian society. The introduction of the new economical and political system implied a set of new actors in the microrayon. Since the monopoly of the state was reduced, a myriad of opportunistic, innovative and creative processes materialized with a multitude of private owners as the actors of these processes. How do these recent actors operate and How do their relationships influence the decisional system?




The rent is determined by the location, amount of goods sold, and a vague standard called ‘social significance’




Moscow DEZy improperly spent more than 10 million budget allocated for the maintenance and repair of apartment buildings in 2009-2010

Today to open a kiosk, one must obtain a permit from the UPRAVA. A sketch of the structure and the fee for the clerk, who processes it, must be included to the application.


management companies

Kiosk owners









Spontaneous and mobile and informal structures

are obliged dents ement comp to resi ag an y The se a man choo



The State

state ente unitar rpris y e


The organization of local government puts emphasis on executive power and one-man management. Head of the district board is appointed by the major.

Moscow City Government


Garrage collectives

350000 RUBLES

m ge a na m pe ate oo priv f c o n tio evolu

self-governing organizations, but a result of the reform by authorities,


Land Squatters They were erected without official permission


This terro act is illegal

en t ra tiv e

5 different companies responsible for infrastructural maintenance in Bibirevo

lectives 4 co

Private Investors



Local Administration District Board of Bibirevo

The federal city of Moscow is divided into ten administrative Okrugs, which are in turn subdivided into districts (raions). Bibirevo is under the North-Eastern Administrative Okrug’s jurisdiction. Uprava district boards control local issues and manage each district's economic and social facilities. Its functions are executed by an assembly, which consists of councilors that are elected by the residents for a four-year term. The head of the district council personally controls its activities. Residents do not have the right to choose the head of the district council or the major. The major appoints the head of the board, and the head selects the rest of the employees. There are 28 employees working in the Uprava Bibirevo. After the termination of the prolonged Lushkov government, local administrations were reconfigured. The new major, Sebyanin recently appointed a new head for the district council of Bibirevo.

The organization of local government puts emphasis on executive power and one-man management. This makes the mayor the single most important public decision maker. We managed to interview Oksana, an Uprava employee. She explained to us how the Uprava is operating in Bibirevo. ‘‘There are eight different departments that cover institutional issues, media relations, accounting, services, the social sphere and so on…I work in the media relations. There is one department that deals with official correspondence and letters from citizens. They tell us what they want and we try to realize it. We organize festivals, bring and buy sales, sport contests…Recently our district was chosen as the best example regarding the “My yard, my porch” project. The main problem in the area is the parking. There is a plan to remove all the rakushkas and build a parking lot in the northern part of the area. It was supposed to be executed soon, but the head of the board district is changing now. So I don’t know what will happen next.’’



HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATIONS TSZh A homeowners’ association is by definition a non-profit organization, established for the management and maintenance of common property in a multi-family building (Zhilishchnyi kodeks, Article 135). After the privatization of the apartments, management was still municipally controlled, although some residents started to form informal organizations, such as housing committees. Private management by inhabitants became possible with the 1996 law on homeowner's associations and the reform continued with the new Housing Code that Homeowners’ associations are the decision- making channels for residents, a sort of experiment in democracy and an early step towards civic activity. in 2005. The new law transferred the management of privatized housing from the public to the private sector. The new legislation ordered homeowners to organize the management of multi-family buildings independently. Homeowners now have three alternatives: to form a homeowners’ association, to hire a management company or to manage the house directly without an association. The Housing Code aims to develop the market and improve material conditions but it also encourages people to be effective actors in the market.

But one could also argue that: although they are self-governing organizations, they are, due to the nature of the reform, closer to state than other social organizations Firstly the TSzh operate with the inhabitant’s own resources and possible government subsidies. At the same time, most of the TSzh in Bibirevo have not been established by the residents. The TSzh only becomes a legal entity, after its registration to the Uprava. They are initiated from top-down rather than bottom up, as the reform was enforced by the authorities. We were lucky enough to meet an 70 years old retired man with the code name- Еж (He was unwilling to give us his real name). According to him there are many weaknesses of the TSzh. Social inequality, different forms of ownership, dishonest and stupid leadership, conflicts within the home, debtors, larger the house the less they pay… He told us that during the term of the previous head of the TSzh, they had weekly meetings to discuss everything. He was very skeptical about the topics discussed. ‘Everything was a conflict; we were called to the meeting to discuss where to put the litterbin. Finally people got bored of all this discussions and stopped coming.’




A housing cooperative is the union of people or organizations to build or manage housing. It is an old tradition, inherited from the Soviet era.

They are self-governing, voluntary and based on collective decision making. After 1991, some residents in Bibirevo initiated the first informal organizations to manage the common spaces between apartments. In 1996, a law was issued, that gave them legal status. The number of cooperatives in Bibirevo is unknown, since they are not obliged to be registered to the Uprava.


Irina is a member of the cooperative for her apartment. She tells us that SIRENA(name of her cooperative) includes all the inhabitants of the housing block. Several years ago they built a childrens playground with the money collected from members.They provided not only for their apartment, but also for their neighbors. Irina tells us they used to meet very often todiscuss certain issues, but nowadays members are not enthusiastic about it anymore. When we ask her about the relationship of the cooperative with the Uprava, she explains that there is virtually no relationship. ‘All we do is fill in the request forms, but the Uprava is no use. They don’t do anything for the microrayon.’





Engineering State Unitary enterprises

DEZy is a form of business, related to the state. The main function of DEZy is to solve the issues related to infrastructural aspects of the building. Residents are supposed to pay these companies for the services. The main problem of this entity is corruption. Local authorities prevent the establishment of partnership. Residents are forced to choose a management company, but the choice is unjust as there is no information on these companies. DEZy is a major public discussion topic. ‘Moscow DEZy improperly spent more than 10 million budget allocated for the maintenance and repair of apartment buildings in 2009-2010’. (article headlines)



With the introduction of the free market system, some inhabitants saw the opportunity to make money by opening small businesses to substitute the lack of municipal services. One of the examples of such entrepreneurships is the kiosk. Spontaneous and mobile the kiosk economy emerged during the early years of transition. The existing body of the microrayon met an unsolicited public character. This trade constituted first and foremost a kind of urban civil society. They were initially informal, but were later legitimized. Today to open a kiosk, one must obtain a permit from the administration of the district. A sketch of the structure and the fee for the clerk, who processes it, must be included to the application. The city has also mandated a bidding process, which is quiet ambiguous. Since the kiosks are located in public spaces, the city is able to charge for rent. The payment is determined by the location, amount of goods sold, and a vague standard called ‘social significance’. The new mayor has approved a new program to standardize all the kiosks in the city. One other example is the mashrutkas: private buses that emerged to substitute the lack of public transport, present in Bibirevo. Today they have also been legitimized and pay taxes.



They arrive in the dead of night. Most erected without official permission. In Russia's mad rush to privatize everything. These appropriations of public space are fragmenting the fragile open spaces of the microrayon, but at the same time generating new gathering places.

The city authorities have begun a fresh offensive on the shell The chairman of the movement "Freedom of Choice", Vyacheslav Lysakov says ‘This terror act is illegal’ First stage : the buyer deposits the parking of 5000 rubles

Second stage : the buyer pays the remainder of the sum. The total cost of parking is 350000 rubles

Now you don’t build a garage yourself; you order the prefab garage after you get the permit


MORE THAN JUST A GARAGE – As a place to store a car – To do repairing and maintenance of a car – To hoard car parts – To store vegetables, etc – Social gathering place

Don’t park your cars here!

–“where do I keep my car then?” Garage Collectives Bibirevo АРФА, ГСК ОВЕН, ГСК РОТОР-ПРОГРЕСС,

Moscow City Gov.

Garage Collectives : People’s Garages


Land Squatters

The owners of the rakushkas can be called the main land squatters in Bibirevo, since they can be considered as an extension of the home. They were erected without official permission, in Russia’s mad rush to privatize everything. When they first arrived nobody knew how to deal with these structures. A newspaper article from 1993 summarizes the story. The city considers these structures as an act of terror in public space, but they are untouchable by law. Galina Gichka, a city official shows a copy of the letter that goes to violators, ordering them to remove these structures. "They take no notice," she sighs. "We don't even have the right to fine them." Does anyone? "Yes," she says. "The ecological police." Today city authorities have found a way to legitimize these structures. If you want to have a leg al rakushka, you have to get a permit from the city. But most of the car shells in Bibirevo do not have this permit. The city has also supported the formation of garage collectives, which are agglomerations of the same rakushkas in the fringes of the microrayons. There are four garage collectives in Bibirevo. To obtain a garage the buyer must pay a total cost of 350000 rubles.



Conclusion There was no speculation, no uncontrollable market, no decoration in the microrayon, only the most absolute form of modernism, the massive industrial-looking (or do you want to say prefabricated?) residential building. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union people have the possibility owning their apartments. In a further step after the privatization of housing, the management of housing is now being transferred from the public sector to the private sector. The right to ownership has brought with it an obligation to take care of the common areas that lay between the privatized houses. The profession of urban planning has thus entered a deep legitimacy crisis. Today the microrayon, built for the masses, is, on one hand, being appropriated and undergoing constant changes by its inhabitants, while on the other,

confrontation with the reality of capitalism is leading to a hardening border between its collective and private spaces. The current state of affairs and regulations raises a few very important questions for the future of Moscow.

Will these micro-transformations become the way to represent the paradigm of new democratic protagonism? Since the microrayons are of little interest to those in economic and political power, can they become the new places for experimentation?



Microrayon, the primary structural element of the residential area construction in Russian cities has been subject to massive changes in the last 20 years. The absence of private land, private investors and private builders have been the perfect breeding ground for the occurrence of these large housing areas with standardized apartment blocks, But the dissolution of the Union led to a sharp decline in managment, construction, organization and challenged the very normative concepts of living. What is happening in the Moscow today? On one hand the microrayon built for the masses of people is now being appropriated by man, undergoing constant change by its inhabitants. And on the other hand, confrontation with the reality of capitalism is leading to a hardening border between its collective and private space. The confusion in levels of ownership on public space is resulting in its deterioration. And the State’s strategies in dealing with this connective tissue islimited by superficial interventions, abandonment, and erasure. This book offers a journey to the reality of microrayon today, chasing the traces of this shift through all its actors.

Merve Yucel “Microrayon Re-Invented: Fragmentation of the Connective tissue”  

Design Research theme

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