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Germans Share Ideas on Renovating Soviet Buildings

Published: April 17, 2009 (Issue # 1466)



  • Pre-fabricated panel buildings were unpopular after reunification in Germany, since they had come to be regarded as a symbol of typical Soviet architecture.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

  • Techniques for modernizing panel buildings include the addition of balconies to create space in often cramped apartments.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

The ubiquitous pre-fabricated panel buildings that sprang up around the Soviet Union have become one of the calling cards of the former Eastern Bloc. Considered unattractive and outdated at best, and at worst in a poor state of repair and barely conforming to modern standards of living, the question of what to do with the buildings is a burning one, not least for their inhabitants.

The solution may lie partly in the experience of Germany, which faces the same problem in federal districts of former East Germany, and during the past 15 years has actively worked on renovating its panel buildings. Architects from Germany and Russia will gather to discuss the issue of modernization and exchange ideas at a conference next week entitled Modernizing Pre-Fabricated Panel Buildings, followed by an exhibition entitled Modernizing Pre-Fabricated Panel Buildings. Germanys Experience organized within the framework of the Week of Germany in St. Petersburg.

A TARNISHED IMAGE

The concept of pre-fabricated panel buildings is in Germany primarily associated with the former German Democratic Republic, said Christina Grawe, the exhibitions curator in Germany.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the image of such buildings rapidly deteriorated. Many consider them to be the embodiment of standard, unappealing East German architecture, but this is a false conception. There were such constructions in West Germany too. In Berlin, there are apartments as well as clubs and other entertainment venues in pre-fabricated panel buildings that remain popular even after reunification, she said.

Having gradually overcome their reputation as architectural pariahs, the potential of such buildings is now recognized in Germany and they are continuously modernized in a variety of ways that will be showcased at the exhibition.

The exhibition will present the most successful examples of how, during the past 15 years in Germany, panel buildings and their surrounding territory have been transformed, along with the architectural and design methods used to make them more attractive said Grawe.

Home Sweet Home

The German projects on display will include residential buildings, public buildings and infrastructure, some of which were realized as part of large-scale city reconstruction programs.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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