Plattenbau

January 14, 2010

  • Buildings or structures constructed of large prefabricated concrete panels in both the horizontal and vertical axes
  • Although Plattenbauten are often considered to be typical of East German, the prefabricated construction method was used extensively in West Germany and elsewhere, particularly in public housing.
  • In East German, virtually all new residential buildings since the 1960s were built in this style, as it was a quick and relatively cheap way to solve the country’s severe housing shortage
  • In English it is called Large Panel System building or LPS
  • Precast reinforced concrete walls and floors stitched together with in-situ concrete joints
  • All large panel systems rely on their own dead weight and the friction this produced to hold everything together “house of cards fashion”
  • Assembly: cranes lifted panels into place where they were located onto bolts.
  • Collapse: In May 1968 disaster struck when a tenant on the 18th floor of a 22-storey TWA block at Ronan Point lit her stove, igniting a gas leak. The resulting explosion of 3-12psi (per square inch) pressure in her flat was not large, but it removed load-bearing wall panels and the south-east corner of the building slid to the ground. Pictured below is the Ronan Point Estate after the explosion in the tower on the left.