Narkomfin

The Narkomfin Housing project, built between 1928-32 in Moscow, is one of the best examples of avant-garde post-revolutionary Soviet housing ever built. Designed by Moisei Ginzburg, it was one of the first collectivized living endeavors in Europe, attempting to engage the emerging industrial process of prefabrication through standardized building elements. This single-bar, 6-story building was designed to house around 200 people in a condensed living arrangement, interspersing floors of aggregated, idealized units with floors of shared social amenities — dining rooms, room for rest, a kindergarten, day care, laundry, a gymnasium, and a library. Narkomfin stands as a prototype, a symbol, an icon, and a representation of the new society that was to be forged for socialist life. The building was to be a "social condenser": the maker of the socialist citizen.

Because Ginzburg specified construction methods were never before attempted in Russia, a number of mistakes and oversights — like inadequate waterproofing and sloping floors — continue to plague the building. Weathering has left Narkomfin in a state of dilapidation, and as of September 2010, the city moved to evict the remaining residents for demolition. These 1996 and 2009 photo surveys show the level of disrepair and dereliction. Renovation seems highly unlikely considering the large discrepancy between an estimated investment and the value of the adjacent real estate, along with the almost insurmountable amount of bureaucratic red tape involved in renovating a historic building.

Related:
Architectural Record, Moscow's Narkomfin Building: Soviet Blueprint for Collective Living