Articles

How Czechs Live (1): In Concrete

In Life on May 9, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

Saying the exact percentage would be guessing but I think it is safe to say that majority of Czechs living in cities live in buildings known as panelaky (it is plural, while singular being panelak) or assembled concrete block apartment buildings that used to represent the former Eastern Bloc architecture.

For many years Czech governments have been funding major reconstruction of these shitty buildings, especially new balconies, outer insulation (which also provides a new and nicer look) and new core units (separate bathrooms and toilets) the walls and ceilings of which are originally made of a very strange plastic material known as umakart [no English equivalent found yet, I am working on it…].

Living in a panelak has numerous negative aspects: the communist architects did not do much thinking about “what the clients would need”, because the state was the client and people were silent, hoping they would be granted one of these apartments. And so the layout usually sucks: and so the door to the kids’ bedroom is often in the kitchen.

You can hear your neighbor do bodily noises while in the bathroom or on the toilet. On the other hand, there is one slightly positive issue: if your upstairs neighbor floods his bathroom, water will flow through yours (thanks to the plastic walls) and it should not do much damage…

In order to hang a picture on the wall, or just anything, you need special bolts that go into the concrete panel.

Bedroom windows often face to the west. When it gets hot during summer, try falling asleep…

And let’s not forget the damaged or destroyed doorbell panels and mailboxes, since the anonymity of a huge panelak seems to be saying the doorbells and mailboxes do not really belong to anyone, do they…   

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