Systematization (Romania)
Urban planning in communist countries was subject to the ideological constraints of the system. Except for the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 where the communist regime started in 1917, in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 communist governments took power after World War II.

The ideological guidelines generated in Moscow and even if, in fields like urban planning, they were not imposed by force by the Soviet Union, the various communist regimes followed a generally similar approach, even if there are differences in the specific of urban planning in different communist countries.

Beginnings of urban planning in communist countries

All eastern European countries had suffered due to the war and their economies were in a very poor state. There was a need to reconstruct cities which had been severely damaged due to the war. Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 in Poland had practically been razed to the earth during the 1944 uprising, Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

 in Eastern Germany had been totally destroyed by a bombardment in February 1945, Stalingrad had been destroyed during the battle and few houses if any were still standing. Many other cities had to be rebuilt. The financial resources of the countries, which after nationalization of industries and of big landowners, were under total government control and all development and investment had to be financed by the state. According to communist ideology, the first priority was building a socialist industry.

Therefore, for 10–15 years, most resources were directed towards the development of industry and the rebuilding of destroyed cities. In most cases, this reconstruction was carried out without any urban planning, first of all because reconstruction had to be started immediately, without waiting for the planning exercise and also because the man-power and expertise for developing urban plans for a great number of cities was not available. However, many countries where historical centers had been badly damaged, efforts were made to restore, at least partially, the damaged historical buildings and experts worked to have this restoration made as closely as possible to the original. Examples of such exercises are the rebuilding of the old city center in Warsaw, of the Zwinger
The Zwinger is a palace in Dresden, eastern Germany, built in Baroque style. It served as the orangery, exhibition gallery and festival arena of the Dresden Court....

 in Dresden, of many historic buildings in Budapest though there are many other examples in the zone under Soviet influence.

A notable exception is the building of the National Theatre of Bucharest, Romania, which was damaged by bombing in August 1944. Though part of the building was still standing, after taking complete power in 1947, the communist authorities decided to tear down the remains of the building.

In the late 1940s, the Soviet Union developed a new type of high-rise. The first such buildings were built in Moscow: Moscow State University
Moscow State University
Lomonosov Moscow State University , previously known as Lomonosov University or MSU , is the largest university in Russia. Founded in 1755, it also claims to be one of the oldest university in Russia and to have the tallest educational building in the world. Its current rector is Viktor Sadovnichiy...

, Kotelnicheskaya Embankment
Kotelnicheskaya Embankment
Kotelnicheskaya Embankment is a street on the northern bank of Moskva River in central Tagansky District of Moscow, Russia. It spans from the mouth of Yauza River to the point one block west from Bolshoy Krashokholmsky Bridge , where it changes name to Goncharnaya Embankment.-Kotelnicheskaya...

 Building, Block of flats on Kudrinskaya Square, Hotel Leningradskaya
Hotel Leningradskaya
The Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya Hotel is one of Moscow's Seven Sisters, skyscrapers built in the early 1950s in the Stalinist neoclassical style. Stalinist neoclassical architecture mixes the Russian neoclassical style with the style of American skyscrapers of the 1930s. A main element of...

, Hotel "Ukraina", Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Heavy Industry. These were duplicated in some other countries, the main examples being the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 and the Press Palace in Bucharest. The Stalin Allee
The Karl-Marx-Allee is a monumental socialist boulevard built by the GDR between 1952 and 1960 in Berlin Friedrichshain and Mitte. Today the boulevard is named after Karl Marx....

 (subsequently named Karl-Marx-Allee
The Karl-Marx-Allee is a monumental socialist boulevard built by the GDR between 1952 and 1960 in Berlin Friedrichshain and Mitte. Today the boulevard is named after Karl Marx....

 in East Berlin
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

 was also flanked by buildings having the same Stalinist style, though their concept was different from the Moscow high-rises. These buildings are mainly examples of a new architectural style, but did not involve urban planning to a significant extent, and there is no visible conceptual link between these buildings and their neighborhood.

It may, however, be recalled that these buildings required the demolition of the structures which were located on their sites. The most notorious is the demolition of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, erected in Moscow as a memorial of Napoleon's defeat. The site was required for the Palace of the Soviets, which was never built. The demolition of historic buildings, especially churches, to make place for the new communist structures is thus a general trait communist urbanism. Recent examples, such as the Demolition of historical parts of Bucharest by Nicolae Ceauşescu are just a continuation of this ideology but not an isolated case.

As in most cities, few new housing units were built; a severe shortage of housing units soon became apparent. All communist countries adopted the solution which had been applied by the Soviets after the 1917 revolution. Strict limits were set on the area to which each person was entitled and the authorities would place people who needed housing in the exceeding rooms. Generally the area allocated to which a person was entitled was about 9-10 square meters (100 square feet.) and more than one person had to share the same room. There was no area allocated to living and dining areas. Four or more families had to share the same apartments. Industrialization brought more people from rural areas to cities, and gradually, it became even impossible to house more people in these cities without starting an extensive program of new construction.

First attempts of socialist city planning in Eastern Europe

However, in the process of socialist industrialization, industries were built not only near existing cities but also on new cites where only small rural communities existed. In such cases, new urban communities emerged in the vicinities of the industrial plants, to accommodate the workers. This is the case of Nowa Huta
Nowa Huta
Nowa Huta - is the easternmost district of Kraków, Poland, . With more than 200,000 inhabitants it is one of the most populous areas of the city.- History :...

 near Krakow
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

, Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 started in 1949, Dunaújváros
Dunaújváros is a Hungarian city in Central Transdanubia, along the Danube river. It is in Fejér county.-History:Dunaújváros is one of the newest cities of the country...

, Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 started in 1950, and of Oneşti
Onești is a city in Bacău County, Romania, with a population of 51,681 inhabitants.Administratively, the villages of Slobozia and Borzești form part of Onești...

, later renamed Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej was the Communist leader of Romania from 1948 until his death in 1965.-Early life:Gheorghe was the son of a poor worker, Tănase Gheorghiu, and his wife Ana. Gheorghiu-Dej joined the Communist Party of Romania in 1930...

, in Romania, started in 1952.

Other cases where new communities had to be created were related to the relocation due to the construction of storage reservoirs on big rivers. As traditionally villages were located near the water, they were flooded and had to be relocated. This created the need to design and construction of new villages. This trend is not specific to the post-war area nor to the communist system. However, the technological progress made the construction of big dams possible to a greater extent that in the prewar area. The harnessing of the big rivers was also extended, especially in countries, where space was not a problem and the flooding of great areas was acceptable such as the Soviet Union or Canada, but in smaller countries too. For instance, in Romania, the construction of the Izvorul Muntelui dam on the Bistriţa
Bistrița is the capital city of Bistriţa-Năsăud County, Transylvania, Romania. It is situated on the Bistriţa River. The city has a population of approximately 80,000 inhabitants, and it administers six villages: Ghinda, Sărata, Sigmir, Slătiniţa, Unirea and Viişoara.-History:The earliest sign of...

 river required the relocation of several villages with a population of several thousand people.

These trends of the early post-war years were just a sign of what was to follow in the next decades when the constraints of the reconstruction had been overcome and such developments were undertaken at a much greater scale. However, the first projects highlighted the need of urban planning for the new localities. This included also the design of the entire infrastructure such as roads, water supply and power supply and also social studies as in many cases the life-style of the population was severely affected and. in the new conditions, the old occupation were not sustainable. The most frequent case was that of farmers whose farmland had been flooded and who could not get new farmland in the new locations.

All these required some urban planning, which was carried out without major difficulties.

Urban development in the 1960s and 1970s

In the big cities few new housing units were constructed and the existing unit were overcrowded. Towards 1960 the Soviet Union changed its policy and started extensive programs for the construction of new apartment buildings. This trend was immediately followed by all communist countries in Eastern Europe. The development of new neighborhoods in order to extend the housing capacity of cities required an important urban planning effort. In most cities, the development took place on the outskirts of the existing cities, incorporating suburbs or undeveloped land into the city. Also, in cities in which slums existed, the area of these slums was developed with modern housing units.

While the actual design and construction of the apartment buildings is not part of the urban planning exercise, the height and type of the buildings, the density of the buildings and other general characteristics were fixed by the planning exercise. Besides, the entire development of the infrastructure had to be planned. This included the transportation system and the roads, water supply, sewerage, power supply, shopping centers, schools and other infrastructure. Flood control was also a concern for cities located in flood prone areas. The planning also covered the industrial zones where new industries were to be located.

In some parts, urban problems were raised also due to other infrastructure, mainly to the development of waterways. The construction of reservoirs on big rivers in the proximity of cities created new waterfronts which had to be developed. This happened mainly in the Soviet Union, but also in other countries. Also some urban planning was required in the inner cities in the areas where new official buildings were constructed. An example in this respect is the development of the area of the congress hall attached to the previous royal palace in the center of Bucharest.

While the main urban planning effort was concentrated on the newly developed areas, they also had to cover the old city, as many of the utilities were linked to the existing infrastructure. After the first developments were completed, it became apparent that the cities had emerged in having new buildings at the periphery, while the center of the city had old buildings which were frequently decaying. While similar developments also happened in capitalist countries, private enterprise also made construction in the inner cities possible, both by replacing older buildings with new structures and by renovating the existing ones. This process was practically inexistent in the communist countries, where the maintenance of the old houses was extremely poor. Therefore the difference between the inner and outer cities became quite visible.

Planning of rural localities

One of the main dogmas of marxism-leninism was that the difference between the urban and rural living standards will gradually decrease and that in the communist country there will be no difference between the living standards. By the beginning of the 1970s it became obvious that this was not happening. Even worse, while in the capitalist western Europe the quality of life in villages had improved, this was not the case in the rural areas of the communist countries, where few progress had been made except for electrification. Therefore, the regimes of many socialist countries considered it necessary to take steps towards the development of villages.

In the Soviet Union as well as in some other countries, the solution was considered to be the construction of urban types of houses, mainly apartment buildings in different villages, considering that such buildings could provide a degree of comfort which the older peasant houses did not.

Beginning in 1974 it consisted largely of the demolition and reconstruction of existing villages, towns, and cities, in whole or in part, with the stated goal of turning Romania into a "multilaterally developed socialist
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...


Urban planning began as a program of rural resettlement. The original plan was to bring the advantages of the modern age to the Romanian countryside. For some years, rural Romanians had been flocking to the cities
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

. Systematization called for doubling the number of Romanian cities by 1990. Hundreds of villages were to become urban industrial centers via investment in schools, medical clinics, housing, and industry.

As part of this plan, smaller villages (typically those with populations under 1000) were deemed "irrational" and slated for reduction of services (at best) or (at worst) forced removal of the population and physical destruction. Often, such measures were extended to the towns that were destined to become urbanized, by demolishing some of the older buildings and replacing them with multi-story "modern" apartment blocks. Unsurprisingly, most peasants were displeased with these policies.

Although the systematization plan extended, in theory, to the entire country, initial work centered in Moldavia
Moldavia is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river...

. It also affected such locales as Ceauşescu's own native village of Scorniceşti
Scornicești is a town in Olt County, Romania with a population of 12,802. The town administers 13 villages and has a total area of 170 km², being the locality with the largest area in the county of Olt, surpassing even its capital...

 in Olt County
Olt County
Olt is a county of Romania, in the historical regions of Oltenia and Muntenia . The capital city is Slatina.- Demographics :In 2002, it had a population of 489,274 and the population density was 89/km²....

: there, the Ceauşescu family home was the only older building left standing. The initial phase of systematization largely petered out by 1980, at which point only about 10 percent of new housing was being built in historically rural areas.

Given the lack of budget, in many regions systematization did not constitute an effective plan, good or bad, for development. Instead, it constituted a barrier against organic regional growth. New buildings had to be at least two stories high, so peasants could not build small houses. Yards were restricted to 250 square meters and private agricultural plots were banned from within the villages. Despite the obvious negative impact of such a scheme on subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed their families. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye...

, after 1981 villages were mandated to be agriculturally self-sufficient.

In the mid-1980s the concept of systematization found new life, applied primarily to the area of the nation's capital, Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

. Nearby villages were demolished, often in service of large scale projects such as a canal from Bucharest to the Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 - projects which were later abandoned by Romania's post-communist government. Most dramatically, eight square kilometers in the historic center of Bucharest were leveled. The demolition campaign erased many monuments including 3 monasteries, 20 churches, 3 synagogues, 3 hospitals, 2 theaters and a noted Art Deco
Art Deco
Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

 sports stadium. This also involved evicting 40,000 people with only a single day's notice and relocating them to new homes, in order to make way for the grandiose Centrul Civic and the immense Palace of the People, a building second in size only to the Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...


Urban planning, especially the destruction of historic churches and monasteries, was protested by several nations, especially Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 and West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

, each concerned for their national minorities in Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

. Despite these protests, Ceauşescu remained in the relatively good graces of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and other Western powers almost to the last, largely because his relatively independent political line rendered him a useful counter to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...


North Korea

Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

, the capital of North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 has a downtown consisting of hundreds of high rise
High Rise
High Rise is a 1975 novel by J. G. Ballard. It takes place in an ultra-modern, luxury high-rise building.-Plot summary:The building seems to give its well-established tenants all the conveniences and commodities that modern life has to offer: swimming pools, its own school, a supermarket,...

 apartments, as well as frequent, extraordinarily expansive public spaces, usually built around colossal monuments depicting communist ideologies and/or monuments relating to Kim-Jong-il
Car ownership rates in Pyongyang are exceedingly low, and thus public transportation is vital to the city. A two-line subway system
Pyongyang Metro
The Pyongyang Metro is the metro system in the North Korean capital Pyongyang. It consists of two lines: the Chŏllima line runs from Kwangbok station in the southwest to Ragwŏn station in the northeast, and the Hyŏksin line runs north, from Puhŭng station on the banks of the Taedong to...

 serves the city, with a network of elaborate stations, many with high ceilings and murals on their walls. Additionally, an expansive tram network
Pyongyang Tram
Pyongyang Tram is a tram system in Pyongyang, North Korea.In the pre-war era, there were three tramways in Korea, in Seoul, Busan, and Pyongyang. However, the system in Pyongyang was discontinued after the Korean War of 1950 to 1953...

covers the city.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.