Monday, March 19, 2018


A panelák is the slang term for a panelový dům which is a prefabricated block of flats.  Panelaky are a visible reminder of socialist times as they were built throughout the communist bloc countries.

After WWII there was a housing shortage and the Czechoslovak government employed uniform designs to provide lots of affordable housing.  These blocks of panel flats would be less susceptible to firebombing if a war broke out between the west and the east.

These blocks of flats were used to help people foster a collectivistic mentality.  Panelaky get criticised sometimes of poor designs and poor construction practices.  They often look quite drab and dreary.  However, many of flats have been reconstructed and are often painted with bright colours.

Between the early 1950s and early 1990s, there were 1,2 million flats in panel blocks built in Czechoslovakia.

You can't think of these blocks of flats like housing projects in the US or like council estates in the UK.  They are still quite popular and there is no social stigma about living in one.  Today, some 3,5 million people, about one-third of Czechland, lives in a panelák.

The Moravian Gallery currently has an exhibition called Paneland.  A few of us went yesterday and it was quite interesting.

No comments:

Post a Comment