This presentation is concerned with revitalisation, i.e. renewal, reconstruction and extension of a housing estate made of prefabricated reinforced concrete panels (the project). Therefore, the project’s goal is to achieve the housing estate of higher quality, extending their life and increasing usable area by 30%.

In Poland, about one fourth of the total of 12 million apartments is located in the housing estates made of prefabricated reinforced concrete panels. Their overall area is about 180 million m2. Revitalisation of such housing estates is therefore considered to be a major problem both in terms of social and economic life. The example we are going to present is a pilot revitalisation project for a housing estate made of prefabricated reinforced concrete panels.

The presentation deals with the “Pięciolinii” housing estate, a part of the larger “Ursynów” residence district of Warsaw. The housing estate extends over 6 ha of land and is composed of 9 blocks housing 624 apartments. The usable area of the apartments is 33.7 thousand m2. The housing estate is a part of the residence district of more than 100 thousand inhabitants.

This presentation is divided into two sections. The first section deals with financial side of the revitalisation project for the housing estate (reconstruction). The reconstruction is to achieve a more sustainable housing environment for various economic, social, ecological, technical and spatial reasons. The other section deals with conceptual design for the housing estate. The design calls for extension of the usable area of the apartments by 30%. It will be achieved through reconstruction of the existing blocks and construction of the new ones.

The project we are going to present leads us to the conclusion that revitalisation of prefabricated reinforced concrete housing estates is feasible.

The presentation is supported with graphs showing location of the Ursynów district of Warsaw, a key plan of prefabricated reinforced concrete blocks in the district and a conceptual design for the “Pięciolinii” housing estate. The design is the cornerstone of this presentation.

Section 1. Funding and implementation of the revitalisation project

The housing estate under the proposed pilot revitalisation project (reconstruction) – “Pięciolinii” housing estate – is composed of 9 blocks housing the total of 624 apartments. The usable area of the complex is 33.370 m2, of which 21.900 m2 is for the living. Average area of an apartment is 53.5 m2. The apartments are owned by inhabitants. The housing estate is run by a housing cooperative, and apart from the blocks features a multi-storey car park for 98 vehicles, parking areas, internal streets and pedestrian lanes, greens and playgrounds for children. Total area of the complex is 6.18 ha.

The housing estate is located in the southern part of Warsaw, within the “Ursynów” district. The estate adjoins the only Warsaw metro line (N-S) and is artificially detached part of a larger housing estate of the same nature – prefabricated reinforced concrete blocks. Currently (before reconstruction), the structure of land use is the following:

land occupied by blocks 25.0%
land occupied by the car park  3.5%
land occupied by streets, lanes and parking areas 12.5%
greens 60.0%
Total 100.0%

As a result of the proposed revitalisation project land occupied by blocks will increase by 5% at the expense of greens.

Revitalisation (reconstruction) of the housing estate is being considered. It would improve technical standard of structures. New storeys will be added to selected blocks. All blocks would have their roof structure redesigned. Three new multi-storey blocks of apartments would be built on. Two new storeys will be added to the car park. Consequently, after revitalisation (reconstruction) general living standard of the estate would improve, number of inhabitants would grow and life of buildings would be extended.

Current blocks have as less as four and as many as 11 storeys. They were constructed in mid seventies of prefabricated reinforced concrete panels of WK-70 series. From conceptual point of view, all buildings are identical, the only difference is the number of storeys.

Thanks to beneficiary location of the housing estate (next to the metro line) urgent revitalisation is being considered. Two options have been examined: large-scale scenario and small-scale scenario. The small-scale scenario included only modernisation of existing structures without any extensions or addenda. Comparing both scenarios it was found that the large-scale revitalisation would bring more benefits.

Current value of the housing estate is estimated at over EUR 45 million, including value of land (estimated at 35%). Potentially, the value of land would increase faster than the value of buildings, therefore it is feasible to increase intensity of land use.

It was assumed that the revitalisation scheme would be self-standing, financially viable project. Main thrust of funds would come in the form of revenues for leasing new living and office areas. Prospective income on new areas would finance revitalisation expenditures. For calculation purposes 1 m2 of usable area in a building was taken. Investment cost tags around EUR 1 thousand per 1 m2. Prospective rent would be about EUR 10 / month / 1 m2. Sources of financing include equity of owners (tenants) up to 40% of the value and 60% in the form of bank loans up to 10 years in maturity. The owner’s equity would be generated from two sources: a kind of repair fund (accumulating over the years in the form of monthly instalments paid by each owner/tenant) and cash to be paid in by each owner/tenant.

In order for the project to break even it is required for each 1 m2 of current living area to finance construction of 0.3 m2 in the area of new apartments. Such new area would be provided in the form of two storeys added to current four-storey blocks and construction of three new 11-storey blocks. Total living area proposed in the form of new/added construction  would exceed 11 thousand m2. For more details on the implementation concept see section 2 below.

There certainly is a potential for the housing estate to become more sustainable not only in economic terms but also in social, ecological, technical and spatial terms.

Economic sustainability of the housing estate is based on the stream of revenues coming for leased areas, which would balance prospective operating expenditures and additionally finance repayment of bank loans.

Social sustainability of the housing estate would consist in equal treatment and opportunities of owners/tenants. Low income tenants would not be burdened with excessive operating expenses. The number of expropriations would decrease. The comfort of living would improve.

Environmental sustainability of the real estate is in fact not possible due to high intensity of land use. However, it is expected that proposed solutions would bring about less negative environmental impacts in terms of the whole housing estate. One of the solutions concentrates on improvement and maintenance of greens.

Technical sustainability of the housing estate would mean improved efficiency in technical operation and extended life of structures. Proposed revitalisation would reach this through modern construction technologies to be applied.

Spatial sustainability of the housing estate would address functional side of the equation. Functions of the housing estate would be supplemented. New office areas will be added, which would increase employment rate of the estate. Consequently, the volume of one-directional relationships would drop and bi-directional ones will rise.

Section 2. Conceptual design of the proposed revitalisation scheme for “Pięciolinii” housing estate.

The “Pięciolinii” housing estate is a part of larger Ursynów district of similar design. The district is located in the southern part of Warsaw (see figures 1 and 2). The design is fairly typical for blocks of prefabricated reinforced concrete panels. All buildings have flat roofs.

The conceptual design of the project is composed of four distinct elements:

1.      Construction of three new blocks housing apartments and offices/shops. Number of storeys – 11. Total usable area – about 10 thousand m2. Internal functions: ground floor – shops, second and third floors – offices, 4-11 floors – appartments.

2.      Construction of two-storey shopping and sport center over existing car park (two floors to be added) of similar area. Light steel structure of two new floors.

3.      Construction (adding) of one new floor on all four-storeys buildings. Under Polish construction law there is a possibility to add the fifth floor without installing elevators therefore maximising the use of available area.

4.      For all existing buildings – installing new external insulation layer (thermal) and redesigning roof structures, which would create attics to be leased to interested owners/tenants.

Additionally, the conceptual design calls for improved land use techniques.

Overall objective of the conceptual design is to add 30% of new housing area, improve quality and extend the life of buildings. Provided that the project proves to be financially viable it would pave the way for wide-spread application of similar conceptual designs.

The conceptual design is shown on figures 3 and 4. The figures include the key plan with new buildings and general view of the housing estate.


The presentation brings us to the following conclusions:

The first conclusion deals with new design solutions, which must be sought in order to revitalise housing estates made of reinforced concrete panels. Buildings of that type are considered “pain in the neck” of housing industries in former communist states of Europe.

Secondly it is concluded that implementation of self-standing revitalisation projects is financially feasible. Stream of revenues for leased new areas would balance related expenditures. Current owners/tenants cannot afford large revitalisation schemes on their own.

Thirdly, revitalisation brings sustainability also in case of housing estates. Increased sustainability is perceived not only in economic but also social, environmental, technical and spatial terms.

Finally, the fourth conclusions leads us to believe that more attention should be paid to modern solutions with respect to revitalisation/adaptation/restructuring schemes. There comes the time of adaptations and adjustments.


In closing of this presentation, we would like to reiterate that the proposed revitalisation project for a housing estate made of prefabricated reinforced concrete panels is our attempt to publicly address this controversial and very pending question – what to do with prefabricated housing estates? There are certainly two answers and two ways to deal with the problem. First one is the “do nothing” alternative – keep on operating such estates as long as it is possible; then bulldoze it and start from scratch. The other alternative is radical revitalisation including extension. Revitalisation brings extended life and improved quality. Extension secures funds. We certainly favour the second alternative – revitalisation.