The Concept of the Socialist City

Plans and Patterns of Soviet Urbanism


  • Barbara Engel Karlsruhe Institute for Technology



This paper discusses the specific features of the socialist city referring to the original ideas and intentions that were related to the foundation of socialist cities during Soviet Era. Planning and construction of socialist cites were embedded within the context of historical and social conditions that existed at the time. Soviet planners cited aspirations for the construction of large housing estates and new cities, such as the vision of a better person in a better society. These goals also opened up a view to an international debate: the search for a new city as a response to the unsuitable living conditions in the industrial city of the late nineteenth century. Urban planning and design in the Soviet Union was used as an instrument of ideology. Integrated within a system of state order, urban design played a political role. Hence the guiding principles for urban development emerged under certain preconditions, such as technical feasibility.

The paper emphasizes the visons and ideas, the urban guiding principles, and the physical structure and form of socialist cities.