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A new communal

Быт – way of life


● Fully booked

Monday 10 April 2017
6.30 — 8pm

This event has now ended

See upcoming talks

Part of our

Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932

events programme
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Vera Adamovna Gitsevich, We'll expand the mass construction of cafeterias!, 1932.

© Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy.

Inspired by idealist proposals for a new way of life after the Russian Revolution, our panel discuss the pitfalls and potential of communal living today.

“Byt” (or быт) is a Russian term that encompasses daily life, domesticity and lifestyle. After the revolution of 1917, architecture had to create the material conditions that would lead to the new ‘socialist’ individual and corresponding “byt”. The term therefore carries the ambition of utopian projects of the past and invites us to consider how contemporary architecture can serve, or indeed facilitate, a way of life for our time.

In post-revolution Russia, communal housing was the primary mechanism to create a truly collective society and eliminate the bourgeois domestic sphere. Unparalleled bold and ambitious architectural projects emerged; however, they were often short-lived or remained speculative, due to the considerable investment the projects required from either the residents or the state. Despite this, countries like Denmark and Germany have track records of successful co-housing and this mode of living is now gaining ground in the UK. There are many who see communal living or co-living as the ideal solution to the housing crisis, regarding a communal lifestyle as socially beneficial, sustainable and economically viable. The idea of pooling funds, space and resources for greater shared gains is becoming increasingly enticing and many are willing to give up on privacy to achieve these benefits.

In this event, speakers will interrogate the feasibility of co-living that is accessible to all and suggest what other aspects of our everyday life could benefit from being more communal. Is there room for shared spaces in an individualistic society? Can a more communal attitude help tackle the issues of contemporary society, or does it make them more acute? Does shared responsibility lead to no responsibility?


Helen Jarvis – Reader in Social Geography at Newcastle University, whose research interests include the “social architectures” of shared space and self-governance in collaborative living arrangements.
Anna Puigjaner – Co-founder of Barcelona-based MAIO studio, winner of the 2016 Wheelwright Prize for her proposal to study collective housing models across the world and their approaches to organising domestic spaces.
Andy Willimott – Lecturer in Modern Russian/Soviet History at the University of Reading, author of Living the Revolution: Urban Communes & Soviet Socialism, 1917 – 1932.
Clem Cecil (chair) – Executive Director of Pushkin House, co-founder of the Moscow Architecture Preservation Society, Trustee of SAVE Europe’s Heritage, former director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage and SAVE Europe’s Heritage

This series of events is organised in partnership with the Design Museum.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

Monday 10 April 2017

6.30 — 8pm

Geological Society, Piccadilly, W1

£12, £6 concessions. Includes talk and drinks reception.