Just a cheap slab

Since German reunification vast areas of East German public housing have been left empty after an exodus to the wealthier west. Most of it is plattenbauen, or “slab houses”, the GDR’s one-stop solution to its gargantuan housing problems. Made from prefabricated concrete panels, they were churned out fast and cheap in a handful of blankly functional, almost indistinguishable designs, usually five to 11 storeys high, arranged in long, relentless blocks.

Badly planned and ugly, they were however built to high technical standards. So very, very unlike the mass housing we see in capitalist cities which is badly planned, superficially fashionable and built to the lowest permissible standards. (Accountants rool,OK!!)

Many of these buildings are now being disassembled and the slabs are reusable, indeed they have hardened with age. Architect Hervé Biele is using them to build villas and small apartment blocks by simply cutting them to size, bolting them together and cutting doors and windows where required.

Add triple glazing and insulation and hey presto! you have high quality desirable housing up to 30% cheaper than conventional building techniques.

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