Suicheng People's Commune

Suicheng's People Commune (遂城人民公社) was a proposal for an apartment building in Xushui, Hebei, in 1958. The building is an example of a common form of apartment building that was implemented in many rural people's communes built around that time. Common characteristics of such buildings include the relatively minimal footprint and height, as well as the arragement of units along single loaded corridors that were open to the exterior. In the case of the Suicheng building, there were twelve units spread over two floors. The building pursued the ideals of the worker's commune to the full extent, as each unit is devoid of a private living room, kitchen, and bathroom. As such, all cooking and eating were to take place in a canteen situated separately from the living units, usually planned to be built in the center of a cluster of residential units that housed enough people to be served by one canteen.

Rural communes such as Suicheng spread their residents among such apartment buildings in planned communities that drew ideological inspiration from the neighborhood unit concept of Clarence Perry and the microdistrict concept developed by Soviet architects. Such communes were organized around public facilities that served an immediate population, which in turn revolved around another central town that provided public amenities that served a larger population. The rural communes formalized according to radial proximities of housing units to public facilities for living and working. As a result of this potential for multiple clustering, the communes were planned to populations numbering in the tens of thousands. Daily life was emphasized on the collective, with public bulidings such as nurseries, kindergartens, schools, social halls, canteens, sports fields, and gardens making up for the lack of private family life. Workers were grouped according to the type of jobs they held - and housed in proximity to the factory or fields they worked at. Women were to be freed from domestic chores and the care of the young and the elderly, and were expected to join in the proletariat workforce equally as men. Much like the F-Unit in the Narkomfin, this commune type sought to break down the family unit in favor of a worker collective through minimizing the private interior and re- directing life to the communal exterior.

An elevation of the Suicheng People's Commune. Remaking Chinese Urban Form, Duanfang Lu.

A neighborhood site plan of the Xiaozhan People's Commune in Tianjin shows the placement of residential blocks around a central square of public facilities. Remaking Chinese Urban Form, Duanfang Lu.

Key: 1- canteen and club; 2 - office and post office; 3 - shops and library; 4 - nursery; 5 - kindergarten.

A site plan of a commune of 1,208 residents outside of Shanghai in 1958 shows the mix of residential, public facilities, industry, and agriculture. Remaking Chinese Urban Form, Duanfang Lu.

Key: 1 - office; 2 - club; 3 - department store; 4 - central square; 5 - canteen; 6 - storage; 7 - sunning ground; 8 - nursery; 9 - kindergarten; 10 - clinic; 11 - middle school; 12 - primary school; 13 - toilet; 14 - bathhouse; 15 - sewing workshop.

Illustrations idealize rural life combining home life, agriculture, and production implemented under the commune system in China in 1958. Remaking Chinese Urban Form, Duanfang Lu.