Cold war and colorful housing – curious? Let our experts explain!

Cold war and colorful housing – curious? Let our experts explain!

May 31, 20191 min read

There’s a renaissance of sorts going on in Ukraine.  There’s a movement to convert the old, stale and drab housing of the Soviet-era to something a bit brighter and more welcoming.

Across Kiev, the old box-style housing developments are getting a make-over. Gone are the boring greys and now, it’s as if an Easter egg kit exploded.  It’s called Comfort Town and it has a goal of lifting the spirits of residents instead of crushing them.

In a recent Los Angeles Times article about Comfort Town, Associate Professor of History and American Studies Steven Harris was quoted about one of the successes that came out of the cold war.

Scholars say housing is one realm where the Soviet Union did what the United States could not: provide cheap, reasonably decent housing for everyone. “They actually did solve the housing question,” said Steven Harris, a historian at the University of Mary Washington and author of "Communism on Tomorrow Street: Mass Housing and Everyday Life After Stalin." One architectural historian has estimated that 170 million people around the world live in Soviet-style mass housing today.

Now, these buildings — which can be found in virtually every country where Moscow once wielded influence — are acknowledged for their social purpose, but few defend them on aesthetic grounds. “They really do become very drab,” Harris said. Some places, most notably the city of Moscow, have undertaken programs to tear them down. - May 12, Los Angeles Times

Connect with:
  • Steven E. Harris
    Steven E. Harris Associate Professor

    Dr. Harris is an expert on modern Russian and European history.

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