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Residential Complex Bolshaya Tulskaya

Moscow, Russia
1 of 4Richard Anderson via Flickr

This housing complex is 400 meters long and has 16 stories. The construction was completed in 1986, although first construction plans existed as early as 1970. The planning was initially carried out under the direction of Leonid Cherikover who also constructed the renowned Dynamo Stadium Moscow. However, the design work was later transferred to Vladimir D. Badad. The design team further included V.L. Voskresensky, L.V. Smirnova and V.S. Baramidze.

The building which is about 400 meters long, 50 meters high with nine storeys, took almost two decades to complete. Because of its size and notoriety it has many nicknames. Muscovites endearingly call it the House-Boat, the Titanic, the House of the Nuclear Scientists, the House of Bachelors, the House of the Tula (after the street) or even the Recumbent Skyscraper. Officially it is the Big Tula Street Building #2. The people also nicknamed it the "Big House" or "Long House" because of its 50-meter height and half a kilometre in length.

The house, built on a spacious terrain with low-rise buildings around, was almost white (at the time of construction, now it is gray), looked like a cruise ship floating on the sea, hence the name the House-Boat.

The building has nine entrances and nearly 1,000 apartments. Bachelors were given one-bedroom apartments ("House of Bachelors"). Several materials were used for construction; stone, concrete slabs and beams as well as brickwork. It is said that some of the features of the design were to protect against Soviet nuclear reactors in case of a nuclear war, which explains the nickname "House of the Nuclear Scientists". For example, to increase its seismic stability, angles are not at 90, but at 87 and 93 degrees.

At the beginning this project was highly innovative, but 20 years later and after a myriad of changes and adjustments, the building has become incredibly complicated. Water supply has to be shared between several apartments. There are unused rooms with windows, with no meaningful access to existing apartments or public areas.

Astonishingly the upper two floors were planned as duplex apartments with floor space of up to 200 square meters. The government demanded its demolition because they were too spacious and did not fit with the Soviet era idea of social housing. After a long fight they were finally accepted as "technical floors".

Despite all its flaws, the building has become a landmark.