There’s a myth that high-rise houses are inevitable. The population of cities is growing, and constantly expanding to the sides, increasing the area of the city is impossible. All necessary things are in the center, no one will build a business center on the outskirts, so the population every day goes to work in the center, and then home to the sleeping areas. This can lead to the collapse of the transport system (for example, traffic jams in Moscow). So it is logical to increase the city upwards – to build multi-storey buildings. More people will fit in, all live closer to the center. But that’s a myth. Low houses allow you to do dense construction. Remember any European city with its low buildings, narrow streets and the absence of huge empty spaces between the 25-storey panel. If you compare the low-rise neighborhoods with high-rise districts, you will suddenly find that the population density in them is almost the same. So what to do with these huge wastelands? Who’s paying for them? Who’s responsible for them? Look out the window of your multi-storey house at these wastelands and you’ll see that nobody is looking after them, they’re just decaying.
Europe also has experience in building cities with neighborhoods. For her it ended in total horror, which left a bright indelible imprint even after 45 years, not only on the manner of urban planning, but also on culture as a whole. To this day, she still reads novels, watches films, listens to songs that describe unsightly lives in such houses. Starting with the arguments that it is ineffective and ugly, continuing with the domination of crime in such places and ending with the literal clinical craziness that awaits the inhabitants of the highlands.
Now the Germans live in apartment buildings 4-5 floors tall, and the ideal is a one- or two-storey house for one family. But unsuccessful experiments with tall houses, which began here at the same time as in the USSR, are still evident. Let’s take a walk with you to Märkisches Viertel in Berlin. The area that you will notice from the window of the plane, because it stands out spectacularly with its 16-storey houses. Between 1963 and 1974, the dilapidated huts of previous settlers were demolished here and a modern city with 40,000 inhabitants (17,000 apartments) was built. This was social housing for those whose homes were to be demolished by the West Berlin authorities.
After a while, it turned out that all the residents of the Marquesas Firtel were the lower class. Even before construction was completed, the block was criticized in the press, saying that the residents of “non-social housing” had lost any cohesion that exists in all houses 4-5 floors. There were many conflicts between the residents. On the ground floors of these houses instead of cultural and gastronomic recreation areas there was… nothing.
German rapper Sido, who grew up in Märkisches Viertel, recorded the track “Mein Block”, which described the place as a normal criminal ghetto: drug dealers, prostitution, violence. For example: “Die Bullen könn’ kommen, doch jeder weiß Bescheid/ Aber keiner hat was geseh’n also könnt ihr wieder gehn” – “cops can come, everyone knows. But no one has seen anything, so they can go back” (so the German was a little tutored). The fact is that life in the area was unbearable “Hohe Häuser – dicke Luft – ein paar Bäume – Menschen auf Drogen” – “tall houses – stale air – a couple of trees – people on drugs”. Decent burgers ran away from there, and the most vulnerable (read: the poor) came to their place. And where poverty is, unfortunately, there is crime. Regardless of race, nationality or religious affiliation. Today, the district is inhabited by people from 117 countries (there are less than 200 in the world).
Residents of similar tall neighborhoods in the post-Soviet space, watching the Sido video “Mein Block”, will say: “It looks decent, planted with greenery, clean streets, normal houses, beauty! Whereas the Germans call it hell and run away from there in masses. It’s up to you to decide what this shows.
Exactly when the area is finished (1974), a book by the British writer James Ballard, “The Heights”, is published. The author shows how the middle and upper class cultural natives of the Dionisian rebellion turn into savages eating dogs. The author obviously does not convey the Berlin experience in particular, but the unsuccessful world experience of building such houses and in a horrifyingly surrealistic manner shows the negative consequences of such living together. In his novel, Bellard will indeed rely on the work of psychologists who investigated these consequences during his time. 40 years later, the book will make a film of the same name on the verge of fiction and horror.
Countries in which, until now, the practice of urban planning assumes such conditions for a long life of people – these are the countries of the former Soviet Union and the countries on which he had a strong influence. But nothing. Nobody goes crazy and eats dogs in our country, or?
References to some sources:
https://www.urbanawards.ru/news/v-lovushke-mikrorajjona – why high-rise neighborhoods aren’t effective.