Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sleep Labs of the Soviet Union

In the late 1920s, Soviet architect Konstantin Melnikov proposed a worker's dormitory that would "intensify the process of slumber."

It was designed with sloping floors, for instance, which would "obviate the need for pillows" (!). Wonderfully, though, the whole building was a kind of machine-womb, because sleep technicians in a central control booth would "command instruments to regulate the temperature, humidity, and air pressure, as well as to waft salubrious scents and 'rarefied condensed air' through the halls." They would also soundtrack the dorms with nature sounds, all to perfect the experience of sleep.

"Should these fail," we read, "the mechanized beds would then begin gently to rock until consciousness was lost." These would thus have been "sleep labs" for the workers of the Soviet Empire.

Originally from Cabinet Magazine, but there's no direct link.


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