“PANELAKS”. Thats the local name given to cold war-era prefabricated housing blocks that come a dime a dozen in the former Czechoslovakia. These tower blocks are seen by many as unwanted reminders of a difficult history and as such there was a call for their demolition. However, when hundreds of thousands of people call these Panelaks home, demolishing them would render many homeless, plus if they were to be replaced after demolition, redeveloping that volume of housing would prove prohibitively expensive.
This was the challenge that inspired Slovakian architecture firm GutGut to come up with an alternative solution. Their idea was to renovate and reconfigure this stock of housing, one dilapidated tower after another. They were able to transform one of such tower blocks by updating its appearance, inserting ground floor communal spaces and providing a variety of apartment typologies with some having balconies.
The finished, renovated building is a great improvement and update when compared to its former state. GutGut’s work helped to remove the stigma that came with living in or even passing by a previously undesirable building while providing better and more varied housing options for people, and as the video shows they did a pretty good job.