Construction of a panel building

Construction of a panel building

Buildings constructed of prefabricated concrete blocks were widespread in the former Socialist countries.

History

Keywords

panel building, block of flats, flat, prefab factory, prefabricated, reinforced concrete, central heating, crane, socialist

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Scenes

Past and present of panel housing

Although this type of building was most common in former communist countries (the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and so on), the technology was also applied in other parts of the world (first the French method came into use worldwide and later it was the Danish method).

The advantages of this method of construction are speed and low cost. The elements manufactured in the so-called prefab factories were transported by trucks to the building site and lifted into place by a crane to the corresponding part of the structure.

In Eastern Europe, the first panel buildings were constructed at the end of the 1950s, and they became very widespread in the 1960s and the 1970s. A considerable amount of inhabitants still live in such panel blocks throughout Eastern Europe.

The problems experienced over the past decades have revealed that this construction technology has deficiencies and hidden dangers. For this reason, maintaining modern prefabricated blocks poses serious challenges, as they need restoration and modernizing.

Construction of a panel building

Prefabricated housing estates

The construction of prefab buildings is based on manufacturing large, flat elements in advance. Not only walls and ceilings, but complete bathrooms and toilets were manufactured as well.

Afterwards, everything was assembled on site. Usually, kitchens and corridors were fitted with in-built furniture.
Manufactured in factories and transported to the building site, the elements were lifted into place by a crane. They were designed to make assembly quick and easy. Thus, the task of the operator was ‘only’ to ensure the right sequence and precise positioning of the elements. In the final stage, the elements were fixed by laborers working on the floor being built.

In this way, housing estates mushroomed in big cities. Initially, the panel buildings were four-and five-story blocks, but later ten-story buildings also became common. It was not only the architecture and sight of panel buildings that gave towns a special atmosphere – and continue to do so – but also the community and the lifestyle of the people who lived there.

Narration

Panel buildings are constructions made of pre-fabricated concrete elements. Although this type of building was most common in former communist countries (the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and so on), the technology was also applied in other parts of the world (first the French method came into use worldwide and later it was the Danish method).

The advantages of this construction method are speed and low cost. Manufactured in factories and transported to the building site, the elements were lifted into place with a crane. They were designed to make assembly quick and easy. Thus, the task of the operator was ‘only’ to ensure the right sequence and precise positions of the components. In the final stage, the elements were fixed by laborers working on the floor being built.

In this way, housing estates mushroomed in big cities. Initially, the panel buildings were four-and five-story blocks, but later ten-story buildings also became common. It was not only the architecture and sight of panel buildings that gave towns a special atmosphere – and continue to do so – but also the community and the lifestyle of the people who lived there.

In Eastern Europe, the first panel buildings were constructed at the end of the 1950s, and they became widespread in the 1960s and the 1970s. A considerable amount of inhabitants still live in such panel blocks throughout Eastern Europe. The problems experienced over the past decades have revealed that this construction technology has deficiencies and hidden dangers. For this reason, maintaining modern prefabricated blocks poses serious challenges, as they need restoration and modernizing.

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