The apartment buildings that were mass-constructed throughout Estonia during the Soviet 1950s are in such poor condition that even thorough renovation wouldn't bring them up to decent standards, according to Ülar Mark, head of the Center of Architecture.
Architects from the center got together with the heads of Narva apartment associations on September 28 to discuss ways to beautify dozens of the city's 'khrushovkas' - the four-story prefab structures built in the post-war period to satisfty a housing shortage in the Eastern Bloc.
Nicknamed after then Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, their construction quality is so low that winds often blow through the large cracks in their outer walls and they typically lack amenities such as garages, balconies and elevators.
Maintenance of such buildings has recently become an issue as energy prices are increasing, Mark said. "If you install insulation, you will also have to put in new windows and change out the ventilation and electrical systems," said Mark.
Mark noted that Germany had also attempted to renovate similar 1950s-era buildings but suspended the project when it became evident that it would not pay off. "The price difference between renovating an old building and constructing a new one is very small," he said.
Solutions must be sought fast, Mark said, because the khrushchovka apartment buildings will last only for another 20 years. Hopefully none of the old apartment buildings will collapse, but the possibility exists, he said.