Volzhskiy (Bezrodnoye), Russia, Asia
Year1951latitude: 48° 47'
longitude: 44° 48'
Planning organizationHydroproject / Giprogor
Nationality initiator(s)Russia
Designer(s) / Architect(s)V. Gugel
V. Semenov-Prozorovsky
I. Ratko
Design organizationI. Ratko, N. Baranov, V. Gugel, V. Semenov-Prozorovsky. R. Torgovnik, A. Amfilohiev, T. Akinfieva, etc.
Inhabitants304,748 (2010)
Target population50,000
Town websitehttp://admvol.vlz.ru/
Town related linkshttp://www.volgsky.ru/
Literature- Косенкова, Ю.Л. “Советский город 1940-х – первой половины 1950-х годов. От творческих поисков к практике строительства”. URSS, Moscow, 2008.
- Советское градостроительство 1920 – 1930-х годов. URSS, Moscow, 2010.

type of New Town: > scale of autonomy
New Town
Company Town
> client
Private Corporation
Public Corporation
> policy

Panoramic view of Volzhsky, 2009.
source: http://www.panoramio.com/ photo/27261766

The relative location of the new town of Volzhsky. ( Fig.1)
source: http://www.volzsky.ru/for um/viewtopic.php?start=0& t=99

The informal worker's settlements in Volzhsky. ( Fig.2)
source: http://www.volzsky.ru/ind ex.php?wx=3

Maps showing the former village Bezrodnoe (Nizhn. Akhtuba) in 1937 and the new town of Volzhsky in 1963. (Fig.3)
source: http://www.volzsky.ru/for um/viewtopic.php?start=0& t=99

The master plan. Volzhsky 1951-52. ( Fig.4)
source: http://www.volgsky.ru

Fontannaya Street and Cultural Center. ( Fig. 5)
source: Советский город 1940-х -- пер.пол. 1950-х гг. Ю.Л. Косенкова, page 208.

Entrance group around the Stroiteley square, Volzhsky 1960s-70s. ( Fig. 6)
source: http://www.admvol.ru/Gall ery/Gorod_polnyi_solntsa. asp

The building of a cultural center (rus. “Dom Kulturi”), 1960s. (Fig. 7)
source: http://www.admvol.ru/Gall ery/Gorod_polnyi_solntsa. asp

Housing typology in Volzhsky, 1950s. (Fig. 8), The neighborhoods 1 and 2. ( Fig. 9) The way service facilities were introduced in to the dwelling ares had an interesting feature. Organized in forms of cour d'honneurs connected to the inner green areas and thus accessible from both outside and inside the neighborhoods.
source: http://www.volgsky.ru

The compositional scheme of Volzhsky of 1954. ( Fig. 10)
source: http://www.volgsky.ru/gen plan/

Functional-linear concept of industrial “sotsgorod” by Milyutin, 1930. (Fig. 11); Satellite image of the city of Volzhsky with zoning. (Fig. 12)
source: http://arx.novosibdom.ru/ node/2387

Revised 1952 master plan. 1957. ( Fig. 13)
source: http://www.volgsky.ru/

The design project of main streets. Above: Alexandrova (Stepnaya) Street. Bellow: Engels Street. Arch: V. Gugel, A. Amfilohiev, T. Akinfieva (Fig. 14)
source: http://www.volgsky.ru/

Lenin prospect - view across the Lenin Square. 1980s. The main square of Volzhsky with cultural and administrative buildings and the statue of Lenin in the middle. (Fig. 15)
source: http://www.volghskiy.ru/f oto/12

The view along the Lenin prospect, model year 1957. ( Fig. 16)
source: http://www.volgsky.ru/plo schad-sverdlova/

The air view on the new micro-rayons number 21-38. 1980s. (Fig. 17)
source: http://www.admvol.ru/Gall ery/Gorod_polnyi_solntsa. asp

The developers around the model of the micro-rayons number 111 and 12, 1970s (Fig. 18)
source: http://www.admvol.ru/Gall ery/Gorod_polnyi_solntsa. asp


Volzhsky was a city planned in a modern style with courtyard apartment blocks angled to deter hot summer winds off the steppes.
source: http://volgograd.olx.ru/iid-64563621

General information: Volzhsky (Russian: Волжский) is an industrial city on the east bank of the Volga River and its distributary the Akhtuba, twenty kilometers to the northeast of Volgograd. The city housed 304.748 people in 2010. The overall demographics of the city over the last 20 years seem stable. There was no indigenous population on the site of the modern city of Volzhsky until the 18th century. The first settlers were fugitives who called themselves bezrodnye (безродные, "without kith or kin") and the village they set up had the name Bezrodnoye. In 1720, Peter the Great, noting the abundance of mulberry forests in the area, ordered the setting up of a state silk factory there. By the year of 1917 the village had had 20.000 inhabitants. During the WW2 the village was completely destroyed. The records show that only the 19th century building of local school and a mill were left intact.

The character and urban thinking of the post war period reflected itself in the planning and construction of the new town of Volzhsky. The urban development on a bank of the Akhtuba River started in 1950 with the constructions of Hydroelectric Power Plans (The Stalingradskaya/Volzhskaya Dam, rus. Сталинградская/Волгоградская ГЭС ). Because of the target population accounted for 50 000 people right from the beginning and due to the fact that it was planned to be build next to the dam biggest in Europe at that time, the town already possessed the strong constructional base allocated to it and was constantly in sight of attention of professionals and general public. The widely spread practice of incomplete urban planning decisions of 20s and 30s that had to take into account the existing circumstances that were far from ideal created a zest in professional circles for the ideal image of the city.

The town of Volzhsky opened up the opportunity to finally achieve the goal of creating a town without mistakes and flaws – an ideal communistic city. The city that is created “from scratch” and would be free of any burden of the present and the past and were the future would eventually be achieved through the finally 'right' relations between all the elements, where all the needs for urban population would be attended to. The whole situation around the prospect town seemed to be in its favor - the construction in economically developed area rich in raw materials, in proximity with the major nodes such as Stalingrad (today's Volgograd) which ensured the availability of technical equipment and labor force (fig. 1).

In order to avoid the previous mistakes, the accounts were taken for the strategic planning allowing for the gradual built up and growth of the future town. In this respect the planning history of the town included the series of master plans constantly revised and expanded.

The first proposal (1950) was originally designed by “Hydroproject” - the planning company that was in control of the construction of the Dam. The group of architects from “Hydroproject” initially proposed to locate various light industry enterprises in the proximity of the Dam and the settlement itself on the edge of the destroyed village of Verkhnyaya Akhtuba (Bezrodnoe) which was some 7 kilometers away from the Dam (fig. 1, 3). But the need for housing still high and out of the considerations of the easier accessibility to the Dam from dwelling areas it was decided to develop the settlement in the immediate proximity of the Dam.

In 1951 “Giprogor” developers took over the “Hydroproject” lead by the architects I. Ratko, N. Baranov, V. Gugel, and V. Semenov-Prozorovsky. The concept for the city made an attempt to take into consideration the construction of the complete city with the sufficient level of organization of individual and public services. A lot of attention was given to the creation of this exact urban type of the environment. In order to avoid the informal sprawl occurring on the territory of the future city the rural-type private sector housing was built some distance away (at the site of the destroyed village) (fig.1). It was assumed that the new city would never grow that far. Although some informal settlement did occur, they were cleared away with time and further development (fig. 2). The advantage for Volzhsky was also in the fact that for the first years of construction process many qualified workers were housed in the near Stalingrad and accepted the daily 3 hours travel motivated by the opportunities to create an ideal “sotsgorod”.

The first master plan conceived in 1951-1952 (fig. 4) had a target population of 50.000 inhabitants. The site chosen for the city was an even triangle-like area between the bank of the river Akhtuba and the railway (fig. 3). This compelled the planners to use the classic approach that implied the use of three-beam layout. Here the “beginning” of the city coincided with its compositional culmination - the vanishing point of the three axes (fig. 4). The axes also coincided with the entrance road into the city where then led to one of the important components of the city – central square, central park, the dam, and industrial zone.

The community center was at the hart of the composition and included all the necessary amenities. Big central park was designed adjacent to it. Wide, decorated with fountains boulevard connected the central square with the green areas on the river bank (fig. 5).

New tendencies in the architectural design solutions appeared. The revitalized classicism was typical of the early post war rebuilding period where the standardized buildings would gain the new expression in classical detailing (fig. 6-7).

The housing typology was represented mainly by the low-rise (3 -storey) buildings which was also a common practice first decade after the war. (fig. 8-9). This had few reasons – first being the absence of the necessary equipment for higher building construction and, second – the notions of that time of an ideal city associated with the more human scale urban environment.

The next step in the development was related to the changes in the economic status of the town starting from the year 1954 when the decision was taken to built in Volzhsky a whole set of various additional heavy and light industrial enterprises as well as a new river harbor. In the same year (1954) a new expansion plan with the increased target population to 150.000 people was designed by V. Gugel, T. Akinfieva and R. Torgovnik (fig. 10). With reference to the original layout the new plan took into account the same principals and design concepts. The design implied to strengthen the outstanding physical and visual connection with the river, organically composed riverside with banks and riverside boulevards, regular and geometrical layout of neighborhoods and overall linear orientation along the river. The new plan, however, was designed in such a way as to break the rigidness of the strictly linear layout and had a goal to avoid the “through” character of traffic and pedestrian movement. This new master plan also included a new urban blocks typology with enlarged structures (fig. 10), higher densities with the mostly complete set of facilities located within one block – the micro-rayons.

The series of master-plans unfolded the gradual process of the city's formation. The scheme that the city followed went with accordance with the concept for “sotsgorod” created in 30s by Milyutin. His functional-linear concept for industrial “sotsgorod” can be traced in the sequence of the main functional zones of Volzhsky and overall linearity (fig. 11-12).

In the year of 1957 the revised and expanded version of the 1952 master plan was made elaborating on it and connecting the built part of the city with the planned one (fig. 13). In the design of Volzhsky the approach to the planning of centers and main streets had a lot of professional and material efforts put into it. In this relation, the planners managed to achieve the model of a city without periphery with all the spaces of equal value, where the center was dispersed throughout the whole city. In the same time there existed a certain hierarchy of centers with the main square that through the 48-meters-wide boulevard was connected with the park-like green areas on the river bank (fig. 15-16). The design for the main streets was done by individual projects (arch. V. Gugel, A. Amfilohiev, T. Akinfieva, etc) which allowed to break the repetitiveness and homogeneity of the average urban fabric (fig. 14).

Streets perpendicular to the river bank were designed in such a way that they widened as they closed up to the bank areas, become greener and finally turned into green alleys sloping down to the river.

The design idea for the main streets included the conceptual differentiation between two types of streets: first ones being the transportation arteries (Lenin prospect) (fig.15-16) and the second ones are so-called “living” streets. The “living” streets had lanes and pockets with greenery to protect the apartments from noise and air pollution and were to be used as a leisure and public areas by inhabitants.

New housing typology was introduced with even more typified use of construction methods. The average surface area per inhabitant had grown and the apartments with improved layouts and by the year 1960 constituted on average 10 sq. meters per inhabitant against the previous 7. The average neighborhood density and amount of storeys increased.

The further growth pushed the city forward and continued transformation and expansions had been altering the initially embedded ideas. In the year 1958 the new set of industry arrived at the site of city's construction including the biggest at that time in Europe chemical industry. The next master-plan (1986) already saw an increase of population to 300.000 people. If in the early master plans the city was still seen and approached as a large composition of architectural forms, later plans showed the changes towards more unit-like (micro-rayons model) perception. The city consisted of sets of so-called micro-rayons easy enough to be recombined with accordance to a particular site demands (fig.17-18).

As Volzhsky expanded its borders again, the old centers found themselves on rather peripheral locations. As a result the structure lost its clear hierarchical organization and the centralities started bearing more random and less ordered characters. In fact, a completely new city was appearing with far from the original ideas layout and style. The master-plan of 1986 is still an important document upon which the decisions concerning the future development of the city are made.

The city of Volzhsky was conceived as a town where all the possible conditions and demands had to be taken into account, as a small ideal city beyond the influence of time and life incidental events. This exact vision that was so typical of the mid 20th century urban planning in Soviet Union created the limits to which the ordinary daily life did not fully confine. The detachment of the planners from the physical realms of daily life of ordinary people and the quest for Soviet urban utopia have left its markings on the face of Volzhsky. Over time, as the city grew larger and more complex, the planning has seen the shift from the highly centralized decision-making process to the process influenced by an increasing number of enterprises led by different interests. Nowadays, various individual interests have to deal with the legacy of its past, transforming the city by the set of new rules and players.

source: ● Косенкова, Ю.Л. “Советский город 1940-х – первой половины 1950-х годов. От творческих поисков к практике строительства”. URSS, Moscow, 2008.
● Советское градостроительство 1920 – 1930-х годов. URSS, Moscow, 2010.
● http://www.volgsky.ru/
● http://www.volghskiy.ru/
● http://www.volzsky.ru/index.php?wx=3
● http://www.volzsky.ru/forum/viewtopic.php?start=0&t=99
● http://vol34.ru/about.php?vol=40
● http://arx.novosibdom.ru/node/2387
● http://dist-pro.narod.ru/nasvlz3.html
● http://www.admvol.ru/Gallery/Gorod_polnyi_solntsa.asp
● http://www.volzsky.ru/map/
● http://volgograd-map.narod.ru/mapvolgsk/

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