A four-story apartment building in Changchun.

Many Chinese continue to live in four and five-story walk-up concrete apartment buildings which became condominiums in the early days of the economic reforms.

Khrushchyovka is a type of low-cost, cement-paneled or brick three- to five-storied apartment building which was developed in the USSR during the early 1960s, during the time its namesake Nikita Khrushchev directed the Soviet government.

Traditional masonry is labor-intensive; individual projects were slow and not scalable to the needs of overcrowded cities.

To ameliorate a severe housing shortage, during 1947-1951 Soviet architects evaluated various technologies attempting to reduce costs and completion time. During 1954-1961, engineer Vitaly Lagutenko, chief planner of Moscow since 1956, designed and tested the mass-scale, industrialized construction process.

This is an early Russian Khrushyovka

Most communist countries built Khrushyovkas until the end of communism; millions of such units are now past their design lifetime.

The Khrushchovka design was an early attempt at industrialised and prefabricated building. Elevators were considered too costly and time consuming to build, and according to Soviet health/safety standards, five stories was the maximum height of a building without an elevator. Thus, almost all Khrushyovkas have five stories.

Typical apartments of the K-7 series have a total area of 323 sq ft (1-room), 474 sq ft) (2-room) and 646 sq ft (3-room). Later designs further reduced these areas.

A Khrushchyovka in the former USSR

These apartments were planned for small families, but in reality it was not unusual for three generations of people to live together in two-room apartments.

These buildings are found in great numbers all over the former communist states. They were originally considered to be temporary housing.

Although many of these older apartment buildings are being torn down to make room for new development, many Chinese continue to live in Khrushchyovka-style buildings today.

A modern condo walk-up apartment building in Changchun

 There are many modern Khrushchyovka-styled condominium buildings being built in China today. The building and maintenance costs are lower if there are no elevators and that is important to a lot of Chinese.

top  contents   chapter   previous  next