The Panelák

Discussion in 'Culture' started by TallElf, Nov 19, 2005.

  1. wissy

    wissy Well-Known Member

    Very true Sova.
    When I was in Prague during August I was privileged to be invited into three local properties all of which were dreadful externally and in the communal entrance areas. However, inside all were immaculate and beautifully furnished. I certainly came away under the impression that Czechs will spend a high proportion of their income on their properties. Am I right :?:
  2. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Yes, Evian, it's a declared war against Christians and Buddhists. :cry:
  3. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    I agree with you, Evian, that esthetics plays an important part in life, and there is no doubt the architects who designed the panelaks in Tchecoslovaquia, the HLMs in France or the council tenements in Great Britain didn't care much about esthetics.
    The new HLMs starting from about a decade ago, are a lot more appealing, there are even some designed by great architects (e.g. Ricardo BOFIL), but there again, if the inhabitants are dirty, they quickly turn into slums.
  4. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Viktor, you must be right, but I think modular building, as we know it in the West, was discovered by the end of the 19th century by the American Edward S. MORSE after he visited Japan, and took down ideas from what he observed there.
    His book "Japanese homes and their surroundings" (1886) - a masterpiece - is full of technical details that inspired post-classic architects in the US before WWII, and in Europe after WWII.
  5. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

    More interesting than the panel houses is the so-called Koldům (= collective house) built by the Chemical Works in Litvínov (Nothern Bohemia) in 1947-1958.

    Brief description: an excellent architecture (Václav Hilský and Evžen Linhart) inspired by the functionalism of the French architect Le Corbusier, using the latest technologies: steel frame and poured concrete frame - cannot be easily destroyed by a gas explosion like panel houses, underfloor heating (now replaced by common wall radiators), etc. The floor of the halls and corridors was covered by cork (polished daily, now replaced by PVC). The flats (numbering about 353) were relatively small, but there were: refectory, restaurant with dance-hall, clubs, shops, friseur, barber, laundry, kinder garten, etc.

    Idea: the house represented, at its times, a new socialistic style of living of the industrial workers. It is without saying that all inhabitants (employees of the chemical factory) were loyal to the new regime.

    The main disadvantage (beside the small floorage of the flats, but it can be easily changed) of this experiment: the cost. The building and its maintaining was (and still is) too expensive, thus not suitable for common workers.

    Now the Koldům is a municipal property partially changed into hotel.
  6. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    The Koldům has a superb environment, and the general design is good.
  7. Eva2

    Eva2 Well-Known Member

    Come on, Qcumber, are your standards so low that you'd call this a generally good design? Good design was killed by Le Corbusier and his likes - may they burn in hell! Cities and lanscapes have been destroyed by brutal, depressing modernism and future generations will damn us for these crimes. Other styles mellow with age but 20th century architecture will never age well.
  8. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

    Although my primary work focus these days is computer related design and graphics, I have been a registered architect since 1981 and I tend to disagree. "Modern" architecture, well executed, can make the spirit sing. The problem lies not with its basic precepts, but rather with execution. Too many "examples" of modern architecture are just dull buildings that cling to the genre as an excuse instead of a definition.
    Following the original line of the thread, panalaky are not inherently bad but the issue of social housing has always been troublesome. Anytime people are warehoused and deprived of a real sense of place, the result is a "slum". Socio-economic disparities only exacerbate the problem. The solution is not easy, in fact history suggests that there is no real solution. There is no Utopia, probably never will be but, that doesn't mean we should stop trying to achieve it. Good architecture, in all of its manifestations (including "modern"), is a part of that effort.
  9. evian

    evian Well-Known Member

    Oh..I must disagree!





  10. magan

    magan Well-Known Member

    Saddest thing is that there "panelaky" were dream homes of young couples as there was no other way to find place to live. Most common solution was to move with parents on one side or other (depending who had bigger place to live) and live with them "forewer".

    Only LUCKY COUPLES/ not singles!!!, who would "qualify", could put money down and wait up to 12 years (adding some labour to participate in building) to finally move it. These panelaky are original CONDOS!!!

    Fifteen years ago, friends, who are both medical doctors told me that if it wouldn't be for their parents savings, they would never be able to afford it. These housings had central heating, hot water, separate apartments (not bathroom shared with neighbours), was "modern living" way back. Most couples with children did not have that luxury and were living in one room in small apartment of their parents/parents in-law.

    Unfortunately, Czechs disrespect for common property, n place to dry laundry, horrible design, low quality contributed to result that it looks like a slums. Nice people live inside...........they just don't know any better, because they only care for inside of their apartments.

    Under new "privatization law" occupants of these apartments have first right to buy it (bno other place to live in) and management groups are formed to take care of the buildings, it is beginning to look better.

    Now, when people do have a chance to travel out of the country and see how other people live and they are not brain-washed about the priviledge of living in these apartments, they do want changes.........Renovations of buildings is hapenning and grey is being replaced with colour.
  11. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Eva2, the debate on modern architecture is completely unrelated to the problem of social housing.

    I prefer neo-classic architecture while agreeing with GlennFlorida, and Evian.

    From what the photograph shows, I maintain that the design of the collective building (Koldům) is good. Why do you mention Le Corbusier? It doesn't look like anything done according to his principles, does it?

    Before WWII there were a few projects of social housing in France. Each family had its own individual house with a garden. Then urbanists opted for apartment builldings with the individual gardens grouped together before or behind the building. Finally the gardens were suppressed and replaced by lawns and parking areas, and the buildings got even longer and higher.

    Urbanists not architects are those responsible for misusing modern architectural techniques.

    By the way, a French lady wrote to a newspaper about the decried buildings. She was born in the 20th district of Paris in a tiny old apartment. Her parents, workers, obtained a flat in La Courneuve. For the whole family it was a paradise: now they had large rooms and all modern conveniences, etc. They were happy for about a decade. Then the government started putting North-Africans there. All the French people who could flee the invasion did. Now La Courneuve is hell. Even the French police can't go there, unless in large groups and with a heavy logistic support!
  12. TallElf

    TallElf Member

    What does French public housing have to do with Czech Panelaky? Public housing in the West can't be compared to what can be seen in Eastern Europe. Totally different worlds.

    By the way, I find it funny how so many Western Europeans are starting to talk tough about minorities in their countries. Back in the day, Western Europeans would complain that Americans were all racists and had no compassion towards minority groups in America. Boy, how things have changed. :roll:
  13. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    I compare with what I know. Besides, conversely to what you say, collective public housing in France and other West-European countries followed the same patterns and used the same techniques as in Central-European countries to cope with the baby boom population that followed WWII. I don't know where you live, TallElf, but it's pretty obvious you have no overview of the situation.
  14. Eva2

    Eva2 Well-Known Member

    > Why do you mention Le Corbusier? It doesn't look like anything done according to his principles, does it?<

    Qcumber, Le Corbusier's principles were responsible for your HLMs. He was the brain behind the suburban dormitories scheme. I just read an article about him related to the recent troubles in France. Pity I didn't save it.
  15. Eva2

    Eva2 Well-Known Member

    Evian, the third building is absolutely superb. But hey, this is already the "turn of the century" style. I was talking about the damage done in the fifty years between approx. 1940 and 1990. They were the black years of architecture AND urbanism.
  16. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    You are right, Eva2, Le Corbusier's ideas led to our HLMs, but he is not responsible for the French governments' accommodating our enemies in these buildings and transforming them into hellish places. The recent events and those that have been taking place for over a decade prove that such policies were concocted by criminals.

    As regards the ideas of this Swiss architect, that are not all bad, I think everybody will agree that his main failure lies in his inability to identify the street as crucial to life in a city. Instead he wanted to vertically concentrate everything (housing, offices, shops, schools, etc.) in autonomous skyscrapers isolated on large squarish lawns, thus compelling the inhabitants to move from one huge lot to another by car because of the great distances involved. The best illustration of this basic error is the city of Brazilia. :)
  17. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

  18. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    If you are interested:

    This is our panelák - we (owners' association of our part of house) chose to renovate our part (right), other association chose not to (left).

  19. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Congratulations. These colours are more in agreement with the traditional ones of the Czech architectural style while the sad grey of the left side is so reminiscent of the communist occupation.

    On the other hand, it must be said that the communists endeavoured to house everybody whereas, now that the international capitalist mafia has taken over a big chunk of Prague, and perhaps of other Czech cities, I have read that the Czechs are having a hard time finding a decent flat for a reasonable price.
  20. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Nice, eso! By the way, what's with the "Sat-an Elektrocentrum" sign on the side of your building? (Just curious)

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