P for Phalanstery (community housing)

«Phalanstery» – a concept of a new type of housing, also called community houses. It appeared at the beginning of 20th century in Russia, promoted with the book of Nikolay Chernishevsky «A Vital Question». The thermin «phalanstery» appeared in 19th century in works of Sharl Furie (François Marie Charles Fourier). Living in phalanstery provide people with the possibility to focus on working process and raise effectivity by colaborating with other housemates in order to provide economical growth. The idea is to optimise the every day life to force participation in productive process. It is a social utopia about the collectivism, which was transformed into district communities.


Mechanism of the community house bases on accumulation of all nessesary infrustructure in one house or complex. «The house is a car for housing», – Le Corbusier. The organisation of community housing is so that person who live in can afford all the every day needs sometimes even not being out of the house. Basic concept related to idea of clasters and communities wich help to reduce the costs and raise productivity. Typical soviet phalanstery consist of a single building with standart minimalised flats and a huge public zones, so that occupants can’t escape from participating in social activity. According to concept, each person should use the flats only in practical needs like sleeping or having a rest. Flats were equiped with a simple and minimalistic stuff, such as built-in cupboards, very small kitchens and case furniture. There were designed few types of so called «living sells» which could be used in different houses. Public spaces were organaised to attract people for a group activity. The ideology suggested  replacing family members with community group memebers in terms of building a new society. All the infrustructure, such as canteen, kindergarden, laundry, library and clubs were included to the complex, so that housemates should’t worry and spend too much time on solving problems with all this common activity.

Case studies are represented in an existing buildings:


«House of Commisar for Finance», architect M. Ginzburg. One of the most famous buildings for constructivism, considered to be the world heritage.


«House of comradeship for Representative Construction». One of the most famous building of that type. Architects, which designed it, were living there too. This house can be considered as a platform for exmeriments with design of «living cells».


«House for students». Considered to be a building with the longest halls, which connect all the living-rooms as a roads. It was abandoned for a period of time, but for the last couple of years it has been totally renovated. Now it is used as a student hostel and equiped with nessesary infrustructure.


«House on the quay» – standing a little bit opposite from other examples because of a different function, but has the same organisation of living. This house were constructed for governmental needs. It stands in front of the Kremlin, so that government personnel can reach the place of the work quickly. As a concept of a phalanstery worked here very well, all occupants were under control of the government.


Developing process of the phalanstery concept brought a new variation of such housing. At the middle of 20th century there were built houses for specific profession memebers: «House of Professors», «House of Architects», «House of Composers», «House of  Painters», «House of writers» and so on. This was made again for raising the productivity of the working and creative processes. According to economical sciences, the higher the density, the higher the progress. In these houses people were gathered according to proffessional accessory, so they were familiar with the current trends and situations in their shpere.


The idea of «phalanstery» itself was too radical, so that these types of housing haven’t become popular. Despite, during the time, the process of development went in a natural way. Some people were still concentraited in certain houses, and others started to relocate to organise a kind of community districts. As a case study, there is a district in the centre of Moscow with a huge number of architectural companies. It appeared to be usefull to be closer to other people with the same sphere of work.

Nowadays, a kind of virtual representation of community activities can be implemented through the  social media. They provide people with the most important progress-making issue – an information. Despite these possibilities, the number of buisness districts grows all over the world. The simple idea that if people come together, they provide more effectivity in their work, appeared to be sustainable. It  lies on people’s nature and pleasure to be involved in social processes. Phalanstery concept of community housing in natural way involves people into participatory activity.


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