Stalinka in architecture

Stalinka, or Stalin style houses – the common colloquial name of apartment buildings that were built in the USSR from the late 1930s to the mid -1950s, mainly during the reign of JV Stalin, mostly in the style of neoclassicism (Stalin’s empire). “Stalinki” are the capital apartment buildings in height from 2 floors with walls from incombustible materials, provided with municipal conveniences: a waterpipe, the water drain, water heating. Other types of residential buildings erected during the reign of Joseph Stalin are not considered as stalks: barracks, brick houses without utility facilities, individual or paired one-story houses.

General description
Origin of the name and options
To denote this type of buildings, the names “Stalin’s house”, “Stalin” and (more rarely) “Stalin building” are used. All the names came from the name of Stalin, during whose reign these houses were built. The name “Stalin’s house” is more common in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Apartments in houses are usually called “stalinkas”, the expression “Stalin’s apartment” is less commonly used. In addition, the names “full-size” or “full-length” apartment, abbreviated “full-length”, are used.

History and construction period
Stalin’s houses were built from 1935 to 1960. By the date of construction of the building is divided into pre- and post-war. Pre-war houses were often built in the transitional style of post – constructionism.

The era of classical houses in the Stalinist style ended after the adoption of a resolution on combating architectural excesses. In the years 1956-1960. Transitional type buildings were built in which “Stalinist” monumentality was combined with the almost total absence of any decor. Such polustalinki-poluhrushchevki (“tattered stalinkas”) can be found in large numbers in Moscow and other cities of the country. In particular, the houses of this type are built up the northern part of Trade Union Street in Moscow. Residential premises in the “tattered” houses were still designed according to the “Stalinist” norms set forth in the SNiP of 1954.

In the first half of the 1950s, a course was taken to standardize housing construction. In the construction are introduced standard concrete products of factory production to speed up the construction, there is a refusal of fire-dangerous wooden floors in favor of prefabricated reinforced concrete slabs, there are stalines built according to standard designs.

The construction of Stalinist houses was drastically reduced in 1958, when landmarks for industrial mass housing construction and the cheapening of construction were reduced due to the reduction in the size of living quarters, which led to the appearance of arrays of cheap typical ” Khrushchev “. Individual Stalinist houses were built by inertia until 1960.

Typically, Stalin’s apartment has a significant number of rooms – usually three or four, rarely two or more than four. One-room stalinkas were built in a limited way. Rooms can be either separate or adjacent (in three-room stalines usually two rooms are combined).

The total area of the steel is usually:

1-room – 32-50 m²;
2-room – 44-70 m²;
3-room – 57-85 m²;
4-room – 80-110 m².
The later Stalinka, erected in the 1950s before the mass construction of the Khrushchevs began, were designed in accordance with the SNiP of 1954. In accordance with the SNiP, all residential buildings were divided into 3 classes – I (highest), II, III – depending on their durability, fire resistance, provision of public amenities and interior decoration.

Apartments in the late stalines had to have living rooms, kitchen, front, bathroom or shower room (except for III class houses and low-rise II class houses), restroom, commercial pantry at least 0.6 m 2 or built-in wardrobes. The height of the ceilings in the living rooms was set at least 3.0 m. The apartments were to be provided with central water supply, sewerage, central heating. Buildings of low class in case of inability to connect to networks could be designed with furnace heating, and also without running water and sewerage – with the possibility of further sewerage at home.

Classification of houses
According to the construction of buildings and the layout of apartments, stalinkas are divided into two types: “nomenklatura” and “ordinary” Stalin’s houses.

Nomenclature (elite) housing
Nomenclature houses (also “departmental housing” (“departmental”)) were built for the upper strata of Soviet society. In them, mainly, there lived party, Soviet and economic leaders, senior military officials and security forces, and large representatives of the scientific and creative intelligentsia.

Nomenclature houses have a good layout with halls and two – four apartments of a large area on the floor. Apartments in these houses had spacious kitchens, separate bathrooms, originally large, usually isolated rooms ranging from 15 to 25, and sometimes even up to 30 m², utility rooms. In some houses (Upper Maslivka, d.1, d.3) workshops for sculptors and artists were envisaged. In “Stalinist” apartments with 3-4 rooms and more, with single-family residence, their owners could arrange offices, libraries, a children’s room, etc. On the lower floors of such houses, apartments with the same number of rooms and a similar layout could be allocated for communal settlement, including including as a service area for security personnel, janitors, etc.

Executive lodging
Usually the “director’s” houses have classical architectural forms and poor decor, the buildings themselves are large, with a high mezzanine. During the construction of the building they were plastered and decorated with stucco moldings; overlapping – reinforced concrete or combined. In houses above five floors are required elevators, there are often individual garbage chutes in the kitchens. Ceilings in nomenclature houses have a height of 2.9-3.2 m and more.

Buildings of this type were erected in the center of the city, with the construction of avenues and main streets, near the squares. Usually they are built on individual projects and are architectural landmarks of cities.

After the cessation of the construction of Stalinist houses, the Vulikha towers and then the Tsekovo houses came to replace the nomenklatura stalinkas.

Ordinary houses
Ordinary “stalinkas” were built for workers (often for communal settlement) and represent a more modest housing. In houses there are both classic three-and four-room apartments for that period, and post-war “corridor” apartments – initially hostels. The area of the apartments is smaller than in the houses for the nomenclature (but still more than in the Khrushchev and later houses), there are adjoining rooms. The architecture is utilitarian, there are no decorations, the facades are almost flat with a standard molded decor.

The exterior walls of buildings made of red or silicate brick sometimes did not plaster, the floors were mostly wooden. In the working stalinkas, there is often no bathroom and hot water. Workers of the stalines do not have a garbage and an elevator – this is due to their lower floors.

Ordinary stalinkas were built, as a rule, in workers’ settlements located near plants, on the outskirts or in the depths of quarters. During the construction, the project was copied, which led to the appearance of the same type of residential areas.

Low-rise stalinkas
A common type of ordinary steel is low-rise buildings with a height of 1-3 floors. The most common are two-storey houses for 8-18 apartments, however, more impressive three-storey apartment buildings, houses with mezzanines, as well as single-storey or twin -family cottages were built.

Low-rise stalinkas were built in the period after the war until the end of the 1950s. The houses were built according to pre-designed standard series, which included several variants of houses: one-, two-, three-porch, corner and with shops on the first floor, and also a hostel.

Low-rise construction was used due to the fact that during construction it gave the following advantages: it did not require the use of scarce construction equipment, could be conducted by low-skilled workers, including German prisoners of war and prisoners, and the construction of the house did not take much time. This is the reason for the nicknames of such houses – “German houses”, although not all of these houses were built by the Germans. In St. Petersburg, the name “German cottages” is widespread because of their small number of storeys (2-3 floors) in comparison with the main building. In the 1990s and 2000s, in some of these houses all apartments were redeemed, after which they turned into “real” cottages (individual houses).

The construction of low-rise buildings was facilitated: walls made of bricks with hollow masonry or cinder blocks, wooden ceilings, the absence of a basement.

Low-rise buildings, as a rule, were intended for workers’ settlements in enterprises. Depending on the location and size of the enterprise, there could be no water supply, sewerage, central heating and other communications in the settlements. Therefore, in various projects there were options for houses with and without baths, with central and with furnace heating. In some projects, there was no central water supply and sewerage – as toilet rooms were used loft-closets with cesspools. The latter occupy an intermediate position between the “capital” Stalinist houses and temporary buildings of barrack type.

Low-rise buildings were built in blocks with the location of 10-30 two-story houses of the same type along the perimeter and in the depths. The same type of construction became a harbinger of Khrushchev’s mass construction. However, unlike the massifs of monotonous Khrushchev, the quarters of typical low-rise stalines have a more advantageous appearance due to the variety of houses in the same series, the presence of plaster, moldings, columns, bay windows, balconies of various shapes, complex multi-slope roofs and other “architectural excesses”, condemned by the resolution of 1955.

Typical Stalines
In the first half of the 1950s, in order to accelerate the provision of housing for the population, construction of Stalin-era houses began on model projects. In comparison with the nomenclature houses built on individual projects, standard stalines have more modest characteristics and simplified architecture. Typical stalinkas are quite numerous due to the increase in the volume of housing construction in this period.

Typical stalines of series II-01, II-03 (I-410 (SACB)), II-14, MG-1, houses of high comfort of SM-6, II-02, II-04, II-08 were built in Moscow. In Leningrad, houses were built in the series 1-405, 1-415, 1-460, and others.

In the mid-1950s, the introduction of large-panel technology began. Famous “panel stalinkas” are the houses of the Leningrad series 1-506.


The basic building material used in the construction of Stalin’s houses is brick. In pre-war buildings, mostly red ceramic brick was used, in later – white silicate brick. Outer walls usually have a thickness of 2.5 bricks (65 cm), internal bearing – 1-1.5 bricks (25-38 cm). The pitch of the inner load-bearing walls in stalks with wooden ceilings was less than 6 meters, which is due to the lower load-carrying capacity of the tree compared to reinforced concrete.

In addition to the traditional wall construction for residential buildings, a mixed construction with an incomplete carcass was used in stalines. In this case, the bearing walls and staircase walls were made of bricks. There were no inter-apartment and inter-apartment bearing walls – instead of them columns were built of bricks, sometimes – from reinforced concrete. On the columns and external bearing walls were supported horizontal bolts of steel or reinforced concrete, on which the floors were laid.

Brick houses, as a rule, are distinguished by a higher floor, exquisite facade, spacious apartments, better noise insulation.

In low-rise construction slag blocks were used – slag -block houses became forerunners of the forthcoming mass construction on the basis of industrial blocks and panels. In brick construction, a lightweight well was used with backfilling of the wells with slag. In the late 1940s – early 1950s, the first large-panel houses were built on a frame-panel, and later on a frameless scheme.

Stalin’s skyscrapers are constructed on the basis of a steel frame with subsequent partial encasing of steel structures.

Outside, Stalin’s houses were covered with plaster, large “nomenklatura” houses could be faced with stone or ceramic tiles. The facade of the house was usually decorated with stucco moldings. After the beginning of the struggle against the “excesses” and before the mass construction of the Khrushchevs began, eroded Stalinist houses were built without molding and often without plaster. Plasters were also lost at home, which were under construction and partially plastered.

Internal partitions in the stalink are usually made of wooden boards, covered with a grid of shingles and plastered. In the later houses, gypsum-concrete partitions

The structure of the foundation in the stalines could be: tape with monolithic filling, columnar, later – pile. For large houses, the foundations were constructed of reinforced concrete, for brick-built and foot-concrete foundations were used for low-rise buildings.

Overlapping in Stalinist houses is often wooden or combined – in the places of bathrooms used concrete. Wooden floors were laid on wooden beams in the form of a log or a beam, sometimes on steel beams. In houses above 2 floors with wooden ceilings of non-combustible materials, staircases and platforms were made. When reconstructing or repairing after fires, the wooden ceilings are often replaced with slabs or with metal structures, followed by a monolithic pouring.

The largest “nomenclature” stalines also used reinforced concrete floors – mostly monolithic. In post-war stalines, from the beginning of the 1950s, prefabricated reinforced concrete slabs have already been used. Slag and expanded clay were used for sound and heat insulation.

The roof in Stalin’s houses is two or multi-pitched, forming a large attic; rafters and crate – wooden. As a roofing material, slate or roofing iron was used.

Two-story stalinkas were usually built without cellars. Large houses have impressive basements. Some stalinkas (including postwar ones) have bomb shelters for war cases.

Many stalinkas have balconies (loggias at that time were rarely built). The balconies were made in the form of a monolithic slab, lying on two or more steel beams, which was cast in place. In the houses of the 50-ies of construction already used slabs.

The height of the ceilings in the stalines is generally not lower than three meters. In the working-class stalines, this is due to the calculation for communal settlement – a few people in one room needed a certain amount of air for living. The first floor of the building was often built higher – it housed shops, post offices and other socially significant facilities.

Stalin’s houses vary greatly in terms of their provision with communal facilities.

Cold water supply and sewerage in the stalinkas – centralized, a bathroom – separate in the presence of a bath, adjacent to its absence. In the working stalinkas there could be no bathroom – the bathroom consisted only of a washbasin and a toilet. In this case, there was no hot water supply in the house. Later, baths or showers were installed in the kitchens or re-planned to increase the area of the bathroom. In some projects of two-story houses there were no water supply with sewerage, and the toilet was performed in the form of a backlash-closetwith a cesspool. In this case, as a rule, it was provided for the possibility of subsequent sewage of the house and equipment with its toilet bowl.

Heating – water, mainly central, often with top vertical bottling and two-pipe wiring. There are also houses with built-in boiler – houses – later most of these buildings were still connected to the central heat supply. Low-rise Stalinist houses were usually designed in two versions – with central heating and with a stove. The concrete realization depended on the possibility of connecting the houses to a CHP plant or boiler house. The houses with the stoves were later connected to the central heating or in them gas boilers were installed.

In the construction of steel in cities, there was no gas supply (in Moscow, natural gas appeared in 1946). For cooking in the kitchens, wood stoves were placed. For their operation in the design of the chimneys, powerful chimneys were provided. Hot water supply could initially be both centralized and local – for heating water, solid-fuel water heaters of storage type (“titans”) were used. To store fuel used in places in the basement or wood sheds, which were built in yards. When gasification of cities in the stalines was installed gas cookers. Wood-fired water heaters in most Stalinist houses were replaced by gas columns, some houses were connected to the central hot water supply.

Ventilation in the stalines is natural exhaust, in the kitchen and bathroom. In pre-war Stalinist models, exhaust ventilation can be present in living rooms and in the corridor.

In some stalines between the bathroom and the kitchen there was a small glazed window located at a height of 2-2.5 meters from the floor. At the separate bathroom there was an additional window between the bathroom and the toilet. The most likely purpose of the window is associated with instability in the power supply during the construction period. When the electricity was turned off, the window allowed the use of the bathroom. Later the window between the kitchen and the bathroom moved to Khrushchev and early breeches.

Electrical wiring in the stalines could be either hidden or open, made with flexible wire on rollers; Both aluminum and copper wires were used. Electric meters were usually located in the apartments. At the time of construction, the wiring was laid with a large margin of power, but now it is often not enough.

In houses above five floors there were lifts and garbage chutes. Hatches of garbage chutes were usually located in the kitchens. Also in the kitchens there was often a winter refrigerator – a closet under the window, taken out to the street. Since at the time of construction of houses an electric refrigerator was not available to the majority of the population, in the winter such a refrigerator proved to be useful for storing products.

The service life for pre-war steel is 125 years, the standard demolition time is 2050-2070. The service life for the post-war stalks is 150 years, the standard demolition time is 2095-2105.

For “nomenclature” houses, it is necessary to take into account a larger reserve of service life, on average – an additional 40-50 years. In the event that a major overhaul was carried out with the roof replaced and the wear percentage estimated by the BTI and in accordance with the technical passport is less than 5%, this increases the initial service life of the building by an average of 60-80 years (and according to some data up to 100 years in depending on the condition of the building and reinforced concrete reinforced ceilings).

Advantages and disadvantages
Stalin’s houses are quite prestigious housing. First of all, this is due to the high reliability of buildings: the strength of walls and ceilings, high noise and heat insulation, high ceilings and a good area of apartments.

High thermal insulation of Stalinist houses is provided by thick external walls, composed of white silicate or (preferably) red ceramic bricks. Brick walls also provide high noise insulation inside the house. Thanks to them, the stalinkas outperform in thermal insulation all Soviet and post-Soviet panel houses built before the introduction of the “warm panel”, and for internal noise insulation – panel and monolithic houses. Many intra-apartment walls are not capital, especially when using columns and crossbars instead of internal bearing walls. This gives ample opportunities for redevelopment.

In terms of the height of the ceilings (3 meters and above), Stalin’s houses surpass all Soviet residential buildings of later construction, as well as modern houses of economy and comfort.

The multi-skinned hard roof of Stalin’s houses, covered with slate or roofing iron, has a long service life of 30-50 years – against 10-15 years for a flat soft roof of Khrushchev and later houses.

In the two-story stalins there is no basement – the floors of the first floor are located at a small height from the ground. Thanks to this, a mini- cellar can be arranged in the ground floor apartment.

In stalines, not connected to hot water supply and initially equipped with ” titans “, a gas column is used to heat water, which allows you to receive quality and inexpensive hot water all year round. The powerful “furnace” chimney provided by the design of the house has a good draft. It is technically possible to install an apartment gas boiler.

On the staircase of a Stalin-era house there are usually 2, 3 or 4 apartments. The number of floors in most Stalinist houses does not exceed 12 floors, more often 6-10 floors, for Stalinist houses of working class and for regional cities – 2-5 floors. Due to this in the entrance to a relatively few apartments, the house does not create the impression of an “anthill” and allows you to know the faces of all residents of the entrance.

Stalinki are often located in central and adjacent areas to the center, with good transport accessibility and infrastructure support. In the quarters of Stalin’s construction spacious courtyard areas with a dense gardening.

In the 1990s, the demand for stalinka was extremely high – it was the best housing of the construction of the Soviet period. Later, with the start of construction of business and premium housing, the demand for Stalinist houses fell. However, even now the nomenclature and rank-and-file “stalinkas” remain quite expensive and prestigious housing, especially after repairs.

Heating systems and, to a lesser extent, water supply and sewerage in most of the stilnels have remained since the construction of the house, so the communications are badly worn out. Electric networks of such stalks are not designed for modern electrical appliances (washing machines, etc.). In a number of stilts, the roof has also not been repaired for a long time and flows. Wooden ceilings are fire hazardous and are prone to rot in case of regular wetting. As a rule, the facades of houses are worn out, plaster and stucco molding fall off. Drainpipes at Stalin’s houses are external, with their damage, the walls get wet, the subsequent destruction of plaster and, then, brickwork.

In the two-story stalins there is no basement. The distribution of water, heating and sewerage passes under the floor of the ground floor apartments, to repair communications it is necessary to access the apartments and open the floors. Because of the lack of a basement in the apartments on the first floor can be cold, damp, wooden floors are accelerating decay.

The height of ceilings increases the heated volume of premises, may complicate repairs.

The lack of an elevator, which is typical for many high-rise 6-story steel, is a significant drawback, especially given the considerable height of the floors. In a number of multi-story steel, up to now, old elevators are being used that are worn out and consume a lot of electricity, adding to the load on the house network.

In the “working” stalines, especially pre-war and simplified post-war, the project does not have a bath. In this case, a bath or shower is installed in the kitchen, and to create a “normal” bathroom you need a redevelopment that requires space, costs and is not always possible.

In multi-room stalines (3 or more rooms), including “nomenclature” houses, one of the rooms can be a passage. Usually this is the largest room (hall). When used as a common room (living room, dining room, home theater, etc.) this does not cause problems, but it creates inconvenience when used as a residential. In addition, in many stalines relatively small kitchens. The garbage disposal in the kitchen, installed in some stalines, can be a source of cockroaches, rats and unpleasant odors.

In the blocks of Stalin’s houses, there is usually no modern infrastructure – in particular, parking lots and underground garages.

In St. Petersburg, Stalin’s houses are located along the Moskovsky Prospekt, Stachek Avenue, on Okhta, Ivanovskaya Street. Ensembles of stalks stand on Svetlanov Square, Kalinin Square. Individual houses are also found in other areas. Slagblock “stalinkas” are present in considerable numbers in the area of Frunze Street, Yuri Gagarin Avenue, Altai Street, Avtovo Metro Station. Apartments in brick “stalinkas” are much more expensive than those that are located in houses assembled from slag blocks.

Source from Wikipedia