Communal Living in Russia: Photos
Apartment I. Common Areas: Hanging laundry on the terrace
  One of the neighbors hangs laundry on the terrace on the roof. 2002.
  Basic Facts and Background
  When: 2002

Where: Terrace on the roof of an apartment building in the prestigious center of St. Petersburg. The terrace is part of a large communal apartment, where around 20 people live.

Who: "Auntie" Asya (see clip "At Auntie Asya's," tour 1), the oldest resident of the apartment, who has lived here since the 1950s.

What: Hanging around Asya's neck is a string of wooden clothespins. Normally, people carry laundry from the bathroom in a plastic wash-basin and hang it on clotheslines to dry. Only the residents of one apartment have access to the terrace. They have to cross the stairwell landing, and unlock the padlock on the door leading to the terrace. Several residents have keys to that lock. The other way out is through the room of one family. (See "The Roof Garden").

In 2007, the family whose room opened out onto the roof decided to privatize the terrace. Regardless of the fact that all of the residents of the apartment had used the terrace as a common space, in the process of compiling the documents for privatization of their room, it turned out that either it would be necessary to completely seal off the door from the family's room to the terrace, or designate the terrace a "balcony" and transfer it to their private property. By June of 2007 this situation had still not been conclusively decided, the privatization documents had not been completed, and in any case the neighbors would protest if their access to the roof were cut off.

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