In the Middle Ages, when the appearance of modern cities was just forming, construction was carried out along the roads leading to the fortress or castle. The main population was people not employed in agriculture. Merchants, artisans, barbers, tavern owners opened their shops on the first floors of the houses, and they settled higher. The laws of trade and marketing worked in those days, so they paid a lot of attention to the design of the first floors.
In pre-revolutionary Moscow, the first floors remained the center of communication between citizens and traders. According to the same principle, the capital developed after the revolution, but private shops were replaced by state shops and service enterprises. But in the absence of market relations, the city authorities themselves decided where to open a hairdresser, shop, dining room or pharmacy.
Industrialization has made adjustments: industrial development has led to the emergence of a working class in cities. The proletariat needed new housing - so the first workers' settlements began to appear. Then they first talked about the functional zoning of the city. Previously, at home, trading stalls and work were in one location, then in an industrial city a person lived in one place, worked in another, and spent leisure time and made purchases in the center. Therefore, in the central regions of the capital, in the houses of the Stalin era, the first floors continued to be designed for public needs. Due attention was paid to their design - in rooms with unusually high ceilings, often showcases and entrances framed by arches and stucco molding.
The city was actively built up and along with the working villages typical micro-districts began to appear. Residential buildings were erected in free order, away from the main thoroughfares. Urban planning policy in the Khrushchev era was aimed at a rapid increase in housing stock, so the entire usable area was given for apartments. The territory between the houses was occupied by playgrounds and recreational facilities for adults, and commercial premises were located in separate buildings. They were not enough, so queues at grocery stores were not uncommon.
The lack of the required number of non-residential premises forced private entrepreneurs to rebuild the first floors on their own in the 90s of the last century. Contrary to the ideas of Soviet designers, people began to “fence” individual entrances and stairs. Such solutions, along with iron bars on the windows of the apartments, designed to ensure safety, spoiled the appearance of already not always attractive buildings. Tenants and owners of premises transferred to a non-residential fund were forced to develop their business in apartments that were not adapted for these purposes. So began to appear stores with the most necessary goods, beauty salons, notary offices and dentists' offices. Their catchy signs did not add appeal to the urban landscape of the old districts.
Today, in the old low-rise quarters of the capital, there is still a shortage of shops. Network retailers do not consider premises on the ground floors, as they do not meet the planning and technical requirements. The same applies to commercial space in standard panel new buildings, therefore, in a number of projects, developers will redesign them into apartments or apartments. However, the demand for housing on the ground floors is limited, since such apartments have a number of specific disadvantages. And customers who are inclined to consider the first floor often do this because of the low cost.
The shortage of commercial space at the end of the last century was filled by numerous stalls and poorly organized open-air markets. These points, which with a stretch can be called trading pavilions, were discordant with the urban landscape and distorted the appearance of the historical streets of Moscow. One can argue for a long time about the legitimacy of the actions of the city authorities who organized the mass demolition on the “night of long buckets”, but the fact that the city became better without these buildings can hardly be disputed.
Today, new areas in Moscow are developing on a quarterly basis. The residential quarter is a full-fledged urban unit in which it is comfortable to live, work and relax. It has become standard practice to place commercial premises on the ground floors and combine them with the main entrance to the residential apartments. Developers involved in integrated development of territories, at the design stage, program the spaces of the first floors to the needs of future residents: for shops provide loading areas, for restaurants and cafes - powerful hoods.
This approach not only increases the comfort of living, but also contributes to the creation of new jobs, partly reduces the pendulum migration in the city. And new requirements for the design of the ground floors (the presence of transparent entrance groups and display cases) increase the aesthetic appeal of the living environment and make it safer. Transparent constructions add additional lighting to the streets, allow people in cafes and beauty salons to watch what is happening outside, and pedestrians to monitor life inside the houses.
All this contributes to the creation of a polycentric city, helps to fight against the outdated principle of zoning the environment, ultimately making our life better, more comfortable and more beautiful. It is enough, starting to design the next residential complex, to think about the details, which in general form our perception of the city, as well as the understanding of whether we want to live in its specific point.