In Eastern Europe, it is common to see rows upon rows of uniform buildings line its cities. These were used as government housing during the Communist reign in the region. In Slovakia, such buildings were called as "panelaks," or "house for rabbits," because of its cramped spaces. According to Curbed, it was recorded that one building housed a total of 130,000 people at one point.
Locals have long wanted to demolish these buildings, which they consider to be "scars of the city." However, a group of architects had a different vision. The team from GutGut, an architectural firm in Slovakia, decided to re-design and renovate such buildings to turn them into stylish apartments.
"There were so many buildings like this, we wanted to create a catalog for change," said architect Lukas Kordik.
The transformation aimed to make the building veer away from its uniformity, and give it individuality and style. The team did so by removing panels between the units, doing away with its original monothematic layout. Now, the building has a mix of 12 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom, and 12 three-bedroom units, as well as two large four-bedroom penthouses on the top floor.
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Balconies were also added in some 30 units, and the ground floor was converted into a communal space with a sauna, gym and cafe.
"Lots of people will tell you, 'Prefab housing can never be good,'" Kordik added. "And here you have tried to prove that all of these things can actually change."
The units are now open to the public for rent. GutGut considers their model to have given a new life to an uninspired structure. The team hopes that this will also be applied to other outdated institutional buildings worldwide.
Watch the transformation in the video below: