Publication details

Coping with “panelák”: The story of an experimental prefabricated house



Year of publication 2017
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description This presentation discusses experience of living in prefab houses, that are closely related to housing conditions during socialist era and the subsequent transformations of large housing estates. The extensive construction of mass housing was preceded by architectural experiments that explored technological, social as well as economical possibilities. This research brings the story of such an experimental house built in Zlin (Gottwaldow) in 1959 as a part of one of the first large housing estates in former Czechoslovakia. Inspired by the actor-network theory, the research draws on interviews complemented by archive documents and observations to show how the prefab house has been kept livable by various actors. We argue that its experimental nature, hastened construction and innovative architectural features make visible the often overlooked practical aspects of living conditions in housing estates. These are particularly material decline, lack of official assistance, no legal ways to maintain flats, and severe housing shortage. The research shows the manifold housing appropriations and inhabitants’ adaptations have protected the experiment from failing. Or, as we also argue, these interactions protected the house while the experiment failed.
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