Studio report

An adventurous investigation of the past, the present and the future of Russian Dachaland.
Rapid Soviet urbanization presented us with hundreds of collective cities – rigid structures that allowed little freedom and were not made to accommodate change. Under the regime of forced collectivism the old Russian tradition of second homes amidst nature took on the whole new meaning: for generations of the Soviet city dwellers dacha – or a small house in the countryside – became a symbol of relative personal and economical independence, turning into an ultimate object of desire, an idealised “another place”.
Rapid Post-Soviet privatization brought into life an incredibly vast, diverse, fragmented, ever expanding and largely uncharted Dachaland. Today, about 40 000 000 Russians own a hideaway of sorts outside city limits: a plot of land, a cottage in a village or a shed in a garden; many more millions just rent their second homes in the summer. Literally every Russian city and town – even those in the far North – has a wide belt of individual dwellings that acts as a (temporary) counterpoint and a (seasonal) antidote to the pressures of metropolitan life.
At the same time, this territory of private freedom remains a grey zone with no clear rules of ownership, no strategies for future development, no will for community building, no proper use of non-private space and – paradoxically enough – little room for transformative change. Beautiful and nostalgic as it may be, half-used in winter and overused in summer, Dachaland exists and expands according to the old extensive logic of rough urbanization, swallowing more nature and more land every year to accommodate more people and spills of the big cities.
The studio offered an adventurous investigation of the past, the present and the future of thе grey zone. Can we use this territory in a more efficient way and prevent uncontrollable sprawl? Can we preserve its charm while introducing innovative models of cohabitation, breakthrough designs and ideas of what a second home might be in the future? Can Dachaland adequately satisfy the growing universal demand for the new life styles, for radical improvement of the quality of life and for an optimal balance between individual and collective that Russian cities so often fail to respond to? Join us to uncover its great economical, cultural, and societal potential.