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Actually I lived there in the plattenbau monstrosity about a dozen years ago - they were roughly twenty years old and already in bad shape.  Remember, I was born in the US and grew up in the US and Switzerland. When I travelled to Poland for summers and Christmas I mostly stayed either in my grandfather's Krakow apartment - a really nice early twenties bourgeois type place right between the old town and the castle overlooking the park that rings the old town. Or I spent time in the mountain resort of Zakopane where my family has had a vacation home since the thirties. Or on my grand aunt's small farm - very small and primitive house but it had a certain taste of exoticism and adventure for a middle class Western kid like me - look, no running water, draw the bucket up from the pretty well :)

I have no idea what to call a Plattenbau in English, I generally just say 'housing project' though that isn't an ideal translation it does work better than a literal one - 'large concrete slab building'.  The sixties and seventies era was the worst period for 'architecture' in Poland (badly designed hideousness would be a better term). The stalinist era buildings are ugly but at least they're solid. The eighties stuff is unattractive but nowhere near as bad as what preceded it.

by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 11:15:36 PM EST
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