Architects and heads of apartment associations met on September 28 to discuss ways to make the half-century-old apartment buildings visually exciting and energy-efficient.
In the 1950s, a housing shortage hit the Eastern bloc. The socialist command economy began to founder, and buildings had to be constructed out of cheap materials and fast.
In Narva, dozens of prefab four-story houses were constructed in the city center leveled during the war, with some of the blocks of flats built on the old foundations. The basic design became known, after the then Soviet premier, as the khrushchovska.
ETV reported that as far as urban development is concerned, the buildings are viewed as shells, in which all systems need to be updated. Eastern European countries have been struggling to find ways to renew such crumbling buildings. Many of the solutions already implemented in other countries are not suitable for Estonia, due to the harsh weather conditions at these latitudes.
According to Peeter Tambu, city architect of Narva, there are many ways to turn the old Soviet-era apartment blocks into eye-catching constructions. For example, facades could be covered with different modern materials, such as roofing tiles, he said.
Floor plans would not even need drastic changes because, apparently, owners find them functional enough. "As owners [of the apartments] want to continue living there, we must develop a process that would allow them to do so," Ülar Mark, chairman of the Estonian Center of Architecture, told ETV.