The Use of Open Spaces in the Districts of Belyayevo and Chertanovo Severnoye in Moscow

Pablo Goldin

Belyayevo and Chertanovo Severnoye Microdistricts in Moscow offer different approaches to similar housing de­mands that Russian cities faced during the Soviet era. Belyayevo was developed under the mandate of Khrushchev in the 1950s with five-level buildings called “khrushchevki” that had bad construction quality but offered single apartments and green spaces, breaking with the typology of the communal dwellings from previous decades (Expatica, 2019) (Snopek, 2013). On the other hand, Chertanovo Severnoye was also created in a period of transition and improvement during the Brezhnev mandate in the 1980s, but it offers a radically different urban and architectural scheme with taller and bigger buildings, different types of apartments and larger open spaces (Hatherley, 2015). Due to their similar ideological and functional determination of space, and their different urban and architectural approaches, these two scenarios can be perceived as a laboratory for understanding the tensions and relations between the structural elements that shape and define the use of the space, such as the urban layout itself, the furniture and the facilities, and the capacity of agency for their inhabitants to resignify, appropriate, resist, and discover their environment through different practices, tactics and strategies in their everyday lives (de Certeau, 1980) (Franck & Stevens, 2007).

To conduct my research, I focused on exploring the “open space” in between the housing dwellings during two Sundays afternoons, on January 13 and 19, to perceive the different practices that these areas allowed or neglected with regard to the in­habitants and how these urban configurations influenced my perception. What are the practices that occur in them? Do they occur in both districts, and what are the differences between them? What is the relationship between the urban environment and the people who inhabit it? How do these characteristics reflect on my experience and the experience of the inhabitants?

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