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a facelift of political architecture

November 21

Slovakia has some truly beautiful architecture, influenced over the centuries by the rule of different nations and political systems. One unfortunate influence over so much of the fabric of Slovakia, including domestic architecture, was that of the Communist era. Panelák is a colloquial term in Czech and Slovak for a panel building constructed of pre-fabricated, pre-stressed concrete. These hulking, drab, concrete, structures were built throughout the country, usually as separate and distinct housing estates that promised a more prosperous post-war living situation, with running water, gas stoves, and central heat. But these developments often lacked infrastructure such as shops, schools, and playgrounds, and certainly fell short on inviting design.

After the fall of Communism in 1989, tenants slowly started purchasing their units and beautifying from within while the exteriors remained a poor match to those improvements. However, a few years ago the federal government received funding from the EU’s Regional Development Fund for revitalization of Slovakia’s communist era panel block apartment buildings.

The exterior colour revitalization is uplifting, in bright contrast the former dull concrete exteriors. Comments from locals are generally positive, although some feel the colours are just a bit too cheery. But all agree the improvements (including the addition of thick rigid foam insulation to the exteriors before the colour is applied) are welcomed forward movement away the oppression of the past.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24 12:30 am

    So great to see these photos and read your thoughts after our conversation on Saturday. Lovely to meet you!

  2. November 24 5:23 pm

    Great post!
    There’s lots of those communist style apartment buildings in Bulgaria as well, but the process of revitalization seems to be put on hold. Instead hundreds of new buildings are built all in those cheerful colors, which I sometimes find a bit too bright, especially when contrasted to the ugly, old, grey ones….:(

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