Stary Oskol is a Russian provincial town located in Belgorod region, south-west of the Central Federal District. It was founded in the 16th century as a fortress to defend the southern borders of Russian lands against the raids of the Tatars. During the Second World War, the town survived German occupation, and in the 1960-70s it became the industrial center of the region as active iron-ore mining began in its vicinities. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic crisis of the 1990s did not affect the industrial status of the city: today it is still considered the metallurgical center of the region.
The streets of Oskol are a combination of urban planning templates from different time periods: the Soviet-era microdistricts designed to strict standards coexist with the private sector and some modern housing developments. There are vast undeveloped spaces between residential areas occupied mostly by wastelands, locker buildings and unstructured technical communications facilities.
Stary Oskol is an example of modern Russia’s architectural eclecticism, a generalized image of a typical Russian city. Mass urbanization, which was implemented in the USSR, equalized the architectural appearance of residential areas. The need to build a lot under pressure of time, with bureaucracy and limited resources, prioritized practicality at the expense of architectural merit. At the end of the 20th century, the socialist ideas that formed the urban environment were replaced by capitalist principles. While new era vacated the street space for private ownership and entrepreneurial ambitions, it still inherited the Soviet way of thinking. Economy and generic solutions migrated from one ideology to another, reflecting on the urban planning system across the country.