Housing and Civil Construction

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Housing and Civil Construction


the branch of capital construction that specializes primarily in building structures for the nonproduction sphere of the national economy: residential buildings, dormitories, hotels, trade and public eating places, schools, educational institutions, medical and children’s centers, dramatic theaters, houses of culture, motion picture theaters, clubs, Pioneers’ palaces, sports facilities, libraries, museums, administrative buildings, and public utility and municipal service enterprises.

Housing and civil construction has great social significance because it has a direct influence on improving the living conditions of the population. A characteristic trait of housing and civil construction is its comprehensiveness. Besides the erection of housing it decides city planning questions related to the creation of a network of educational, health, and cultural institutions, public utility and municipal service enterprises, and green planted areas; it also concerns itself with renovating areas.

From tsarist Russia the Soviet state inherited housing resources that were inadequate in scope, uncomfortable, and to a significant degree destroyed during World War I. During the very first years of Soviet power the Communist Party and the Soviet state improved the living conditions of the working people by moving them out of their basements into the apartments of the expropriated classes. In the prewar five-year plans (1929–40) the supply of housing to the population continued to be inadequate, despite the steadily growing volume of housing construction, because the urban population grew even faster. The destruction wrought by the German fascist aggressors during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–5, as a result of which about 25 million people in the urban and rural areas were left without shelter, further exacerbated the housing problem.

In the postwar period the country’s devastated housing resources were restored. However, industrial development led to a further growth in the urban population. Whereas it had been 18 percent of the total population of the country in 1913, it was 33 percent in 1940 and 48 percent in 1959. For this reason, in 1957 the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted the decree On the Development of Housing Construction in the USSR, which posed the task of significantly increasing housing resources in the shortest possible time and defined ways and methods of developing mass-scale housing construction. The decision to settle the new housing being built with family groups instead of having communal living arrangements was very important. The scale of housing construction increased sharply. In 1951–55, 6,052,000 apartments with a total area of 240.5 million sq m were turned over for operation in the USSR, and in 1956–60 the figures were 11,292,000 apartments with an area of 474.1 million sq m. The Soviet state allocates enormous capital investments for building non-production fixed capital. In the eighth five-year plan, 1966–70, an average of about 23 percent of all capital investments each year was spent for the construction of housing and of scientific, cultural, artistic, and educational institutions alone. Since 1966 an average of more than 100 million sq m of total usable housing space per year has been put into operation (106 million sq m in 1970), which makes it possible for about 11 million people each year to improve their housing conditions. Housing resources in the cities and urban-type settlements have increased significantly (from 421 million sq m in 1940 to 1,529 million sq m in 1970). In 1970 state and cooperative enterprises and organizations (including kolkhozes) put into operation 3,795 schools with places for 1,581,000 students, enough children’s preschool institutions to accommodate 484,000 children, and hospital facilities with 70,000 beds. In 1970 state and cooperative enterprises and organizations put 10,500 stores and 4,400 public eating places into operation.

The capital of the USSR, Moscow, has changed and grown beyond recognition in the years of Soviet power. At the beginning of 1971 its housing resources had increased by almost six times. Residential buildings with a total area of more than 90 million sq m have been built. Planning, renovating, and planting in the city have improved significantly. In 1971 the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR ratified the new Master Plan of Development for the City of Moscow.

An enormous scale of housing and civil construction became feasible thanks to the industrialization of construction, which was, in its turn, based on the standardization of buildings and construction parts and on the development and specialization of the construction industry and the building materials industry. The use of model plans in housing construction reached 93.5 percent of the total construction volume in 1970, and for cultural and social construction it was 85.7 percent. The industrialization of housing and civil construction has been associated with the development of large-module and large-panel construction. The industrialization of housing and civil construction has made it possible to organize a single production flow beginning with the manufacture of construction elements and parts and ending with the erection of buildings. New comprehensive industrial construction enterprises, called housing-construction combines (DSK’s), have been formed by combining functions. The product of the DSK is a residential building ready for people to move into.

A great deal of attention is devoted to the quality of housing and civil construction. In 1969 the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted the decree On Measures To Improve the Quality of Housing and Civil Construction. This decree obligated planning and construction organizations to raise the quality of housing and civil construction and to improve its planning by ensuring the development and application of model plans for buildings that differ from each other in terms of architectural style, number of floors, and size. Apartments should correspond to the demographic composition of families, vary in size and be comfortable, and have extensive auxiliary areas and conveniences. Planning for capital investments in housing construction and technical and economic evaluation of this construction should be done on the basis of an index of the cost of 1 sq m of the total area of residential buildings, not just of the living area. As the personal incomes of the population increase, cooperative housing construction is developing.

Cooperative and individual housing construction has been offered a number of privileges on the basis of the June 1, 1962, decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR entitled On Individual and Cooperative Housing Construction and the Nov. 19, 1964, decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR entitled On the Further Development of Cooperative Housing Construction. In 1970 housing construction cooperatives introduced residential buildings with a total area of 7.7 million sq m; residential buildings put into use in the cities and rural areas by production and clerical workers at their own expense and with the assistance of state credit amounted to a total area of 13 million sq m in 1970.

Along with mass-scale housing and civil construction in the USSR, unique buildings and structures have been erected, such as the M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University in the Lenin Hills, the complex of sports structures at the V. I. Lenin Central Stadium in Luzhniki, the Kremlin Palace of Congresses, the All-Union Television Center and the television tower in Ostankino, the complex of high-rise residential and administrative buildings on Kalinin Prospect (Moscow), the Lenin Memorial Center in Ulianovsk, the lubileinyi Palace of Sport, and the Oktiabr’skii Motion Picture and Concert Hall in Leningrad, the complex of structures in Arteka (the Crimea), and the Palace of Pioneers in Kiev.

Housing and cultural-social construction is under way on a large scale in the countryside. In accordance with the Sept. 12, 1968, decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR entitled On Regulating Construction in the Countryside, work has proceeded in the planning, laying out, and building up of the central estates of sovkhozes and kolkhozes, and comprehensive experimental-model housing and civil construction for rural areas is being built. Cooperative and individual construction by production and clerical workers and rural intelligentsia is also developing steadily, as is housing construction through the public funds of the kolkhozes and through the savings of kolkhoz members.

In accordance with the Directives of the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU on the Five-Year Plan for Development of the USSR National Economy From 1971 to 1975, residential buildings with a total area of 580 million sq m are to be built, based on all kinds of financial sources. Preschool institutions with places for more than 2 million children and general educational schools with places for at least 6 million are to be built at state expense; a centralized water supply for the urban population is to be basically completed; water mains are to be built in 700 cities and communities of workers; and the construction of hotels, campgrounds, and other facilities for serving tourists is to be expanded. The program of housing and civil construction is ensuring a rise in the standard of living and sophistication of the Soviet people.

In the other socialist countries, the principal expenditures for housing construction are made by the state and by cooperative organizations.

In the capitalist countries, housing construction is carried on primarily by private persons or associations of them.


Materialy XXIV s”ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1971.
Promyslov, V. F. Razvitie industrialnogo stroitel’stva v Moskve. Moscow, 1967.
Rodin, lu. M. Zhilishchnoe stroitel’stvo v SSSR. Moscow, 1970. Stroitel’stvo v SSSR 1917–1957. Moscow, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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