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Byt is a Russian term that encompasses daily life, domesticity and lifestyle. After the Revolution of 1917, architecture had to create the material conditions that would lead to the new ‘socialist’ individual and corresponding byt. The term therefore carries the ambition of utopian projects of the past and invites us to consider how contemporary architecture can serve, or indeed facilitate, a way of life for our time.
In post-revolution Russia, communal housing was the primary mechanism to create a truly collective society and eliminate the bourgeois domestic sphere. Unparalleled bold and ambitious architectural projects emerged, however they were often short-lived or remained speculative, due to the considerable investment the projects required from either the residents or the state. Despite this, countries like Denmark and Germany have track records of successful co-housing, and this mode of living is now gaining ground in the UK. There are many who see communal living or co-living as the ideal solution to the housing crisis, regarding a communal lifestyle as socially beneficial, sustainable and economically viable. The idea of pooling funds, space and resources for greater shared gains is becoming increasingly enticing and many are willing to give up on privacy to achieve these benefits.
In this event, speakers will interrogate the feasibility of co-living that is accessible to all and suggest what other aspects of our everyday life could benefit from being more communal. Is there room for shared spaces in an individualistic society? Can a more communal attitude help tackle the issues of contemporary society, or does it make them more acute? Does shared responsibility lead to no responsibility?