Concrete Soviet-Era Blocks Could Last Over Century, Says Professor ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Rumors of the incipient demise of the prefabricated concrete Soviet housing stock in the suburbs of some Estonian cities are unfounded, says a Tallinn University of Technology professor.  

Although many have projected only a few decades as the remaining lifespan, Karl Õiger told Postimees that the buildings could last almost indefinitely.

"If they are constantly kept up, we can extend their lifespan and keep them going as long as we want to and need to," he said. 

The projects were built starting in the 1960s to house baby boomers and migrant workers from the rest of the Soviet Union.

Õiger, whose employer's campus is located right in the heart of one such suburb, Mustamäe, said it wasn't realistic to build new apartment buildings in the place of the old ones, as the market prices rule out a spate of building such as took place under the Soviet command economy in conditions of a growing population.

He said that the very first prefabricated concrete buildings on Pae and Tööstuse streets were shoddily built, but then the local builders refined their abilty to implement the pan-Soviet, cookie-cutter blueprints.  

He also said it was only honeycomb-brick buildings from that period that were in dire shape, not concrete panel structures. Eesti Päevaleht reported yesterday that some of the facade work of those brick buildings was crumbling, posing a risk to people walking below. No fundamental problems with the structure, other than poor insulation, were reported.