Panelka Beyond Ideology

In between a remnant of Soviet reality and a catalyst for individuality

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As the Soviet Union's territories spanned across 30 countries, the prefabricated apartment buildings (Panelka) have tattooed numerous cities across Europe.The ideological “leftovers” of the typology, together with their predetermined lifespan, the decaying material state, and the fragmented ownership create difficulties for big-scale interventions. As a result, 170 million Panelka inhabitants face the possibility of demolition of their homes.

The graduation project focuses on the revitalization of the Panelka through the case study of the Trakiya district in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Supported by in-depth research of Panelkas’ development, the project aims to reimagine Trakiya through the local vernacular characteristics of the globally mass produced Panelka. The research showed that although Panelka’s perception is influenced by the negative connotations due to its ideological past, it is in flux due to constant recreation by its residents. The project’s approach is sensitive to Trakiya’s latent opportunities, and resulted in a framework, which can spatially as well as socially correspond to the needs of the residents. In order to improve the living conditions and tackle the negative perception of Panelka, a set of interventions founded on circularity aspects is proposed.