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Panelház in Budapest-Kispest.

Panelház (Short: Panel) is a Hungarian term for a type of concrete block of flats (panel buildings), built in the People's Republic of Hungary and other Eastern Bloc countries.

It was the main urban housing type in the Socialist-era,[1] which still dominates the Hungarian cityscape.

According to the 2011 census, there were 829,177 panel apartements in Hungary (18.9% of the dwellings) and were home to 1,741,577 people (17.5% of the total population).[2]


Paks-Újváros ("Paks-New City") under construction in the 1970s
Precast concrete buildings in Gyöngyös (1974)
One-storied workers houses replaced with panel blocks, Budapest-Kispest in the early 1980s
Cityscape in Pécs

After the WWII a serious housing crisis was evolved in Hungary due to the rapid population growth and urbanization, the last one was triggered by the exodus of the rural population after the collectivization in the late 1940s and the early 1950s.[1] Budapest and other industry-dominated cities became overcrowded, the situation called for government intervention.[1] After several study visits and conventions, Hungary bought the large-panel system from the Soviet Union and Denmark in the early 1960s.[1] The Danish technology was known as Larsen-Nielsen system and was a common housing method in several countries of Western Europe, in Turkey and Hong Kong too.[3] By the late 1960s, Hungarian engineers developed the country's own large-panel system, which was regulated to the Hungarian actualities.[1] The large-panel system was rapid and did not depend on seasons (winters are relatively cold in Hungary, so the constructions usually have to stop during cold weather, except the large-panel method).[1]

The first panel residential building was built in Dunaújváros (new industrial city) in 1961, followed by other blocks is Pécs and Debrecen in 1963.[4] The first housing factory (these works produced near all parts of these buildings, including the built-up kitchen units and the built-up wardrobes)[1] was built in 1965.[4]

The historic core of the Hungarian cities was surrounded by mostly one-storied buildings, workers houses and muddy streets until the 1960s, when the nationwide public housing program passed.[5] These buildings were demolished and replaced with panel blocks, while other new neighbourhoods were built in former agricultural lands around the cities.[5]

Panel apartements were real advancement for the Hungarian population; small, one-bedroom dwellings (predominantly without modern conviniences) replaced with two or three-bedroom, sun-flooded flats with teleheating, sewage disposal, flush toilet and piped hot water.[1][6][7] According to the 1960 census, one-bedroom flats made up 60.2% of the dwellings in Budapest, decreased to 25.4% in 1990. During this period, the share of three or more bedroom dwellings rose from 8.7% to 35%.[8][9] The last panel building was finished in 1993.[4]

The Hungarian government and local municipalities started a renovation program during the 2000s. In the program they have insulated these buildings, replaced the old doors and windows with multi-layer thermo glass, renewed the heating system and colored the buildings in a more pleasant way.[10]

These buildings still dominate the Hungarian cityscape, the share of panel dwellings is 31% in Budapest, 39.4% in Debrecen, 52% in Miskolc, 37.6% in Szeged, 41.9% in Pécs, 41.3% in Győr, 50.2% in Székesfehérvár and 59.8% in Dunaújváros.[2]

Former housing factories[edit]


City Plant Start of
Budapest No. 1 (Szentendrei str.) No. 43 State Construction Company (SCC) 1965 Soviet 1800-2300-3300
Budapest No. 2 (Ferencváros) No. 43 SCC 1968 Danish (Larsen-Nielsen) 1700-2500
Budapest No. 3 (Dunakeszi) No. 43 SCC 1969 Soviet and Hungarian 3600-4200
Budapest No. 4 (Budafok) No. 43 SCC 1974 Soviet and Hungarian 2800-3000
Győr Győr County SCC 1970 Soviet, GDR and Hungarian 3000-3500
Miskolc Borsod County SCC 1970 Soviet and Hungarian 3600-4200
Debrecen Hajdú County SCC 1971 Soviet and Hungarian 2500-3500
Szeged South-Hungarian Construction Company 1972 Soviet and Hungarian 2500-3000
Veszprém Veszprém County SCC 1975 Soviet and Hungarian 2500
Kecskemét Bács County SCC 1976 Soviet and Hungarian 2500

Former panel works[edit]

City Plant Start of
Dunaújváros Concrete and Ferroconcrete Works 1962 Hungarian 1200
Pécs Baranya County State Construction Company (SCC) 1963 Hungarian 1300
Szekszárd Tolna County Concrete and Ferroconcrete Works 1972 Hungarian 600
Kaposvár Somogy County SCC 1973 Hungarian 450
Békéscsaba Békés County SCC 1970 Hungarian 400
Szolnok Szolnok County SCC 1969 Hungarian 400


Upscale block in Budapest (built in 1989)

According to the 2011 census, there were 829,177 panel flats in Hungary (777,263 inhabited, 51,914 tenantless, 18.9% of the dwellings overall), of whom there were 548,464 flats (66.1%) in large-panel system buildings (LPS) and 280,713 (33.9%) in precast concrete (PC) buildings (the LPS is originally unplastered, while the PC is plastered and painted).[2] These flats were home to 1,741,577 people (17.5% of the total population).[2] There were 58,698 [50,373 inhabited] (7.1 [6.5%] of the total) one-bedroom, 421,274 [392,602 inhabited] (50.8% [50.5%]) two-bedroom, 271,422 [259,276 inhabited] (32.7% [33.4%]) three-bedroom flat, while 77,783 [59,275 inhabited] panel flats (9.4% [9.7%]) had four or more bedroom in 2011.[2]

Average floor space was 54 m² for an LPS flat and 69 m² for a PC flat in 2011, lower than the national average (78 m²).[2] The average floor space for a state-built flat (mostly panel flats) was 48 m²[12] in the 1960s, 53 m²[1][12] in the 1970s and 55 m²[1] in the 1980s, significantly smaller than a privately built one (panel blocks also were built by non-governmental organizations, mostly housing cooperatives).[1] Despite economic harship, flats got even bigger in the late 1980s (before the fall of the Communism), the largest panel flats were built in the Káposztásmegyer microdistrict of Budapest with 124 m².[13]

The society of panel housing estates was heterogeneous until the privatization in the early 1990s (after the fall of the Communism), when the poor and the rich fled from these buildings, made them middle class characteristic.[14] The residents of panel buildings predominantly have an above-average level of education.[14]

Largest panel microraions[edit]

Microraion (housing estate) City Flats Inhabitants (person)
Újpest-Városközpont ("Újpest City Center") Budapest 16,832 36,000
Újpalota Budapest 15,886 33,000
Pécs-Kertváros ("Pécs Garden City") Pécs 15,856 35,000
Óbuda-Városközpont ("Óbuda City Center") Budapest 13,736 27,000
Békásmegyeri lakótelep ("Békásmegyer microraion") Budapest 13,394 27,000
Füredi utcai lakótelep ("Füredi microraion") Budapest 12,233 21,000
Kispesti lakótelep ("Kispest microraion") Budapest 12,000 27,000
Avasi lakótelep ("Avas microraion") Miskolc 11,498 40,000[15]
Pécs-Uránváros ("Pécs Uranium City") Pécs 9,651 22,000
Tatabánya-Újváros ("Tatabánya New City") Tatabánya 8,862 20,000
Széchenyi város lakótelep ("Széchenyitown microraion") Kecskemét 8,673 20,000


Other countries[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gábor Preisich: Budapest városépítésének története 1945-1990, Műszaki Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1998, pp. 77-116, ISBN 963-16-1467-0
  2. ^ a b c d e f Hungarian census 2011 tables 2.1.13, 2.1.22, 2.2.3, 2.2.6 (Hungarian)
  3. ^ "Failure of a High-Rise System". Concrete Construction. 1 March 1969. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Tímea Dénes: Házgyári panelos épületek felújítása Budapest University of Technology and Economics, 2000
  5. ^ a b Imre Perényi: A korszerű város ("The modern city"), Műszaki Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1967, p. 183, pp. 157-165
  6. ^ László Berza: Budapest lexikon, Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1993, pp. 560-561, pp. 668-669, ISBN 963-05-6411-4
  7. ^ Ernő Heim: Új városrész születik - a zuglói új lakónegyed részletes rendezési terve, Budapest, a Főváros folyóirata, Year IV, Vol. 3, 1966, pp. 26-28
  8. ^ 1960. évi népszámlálás (1960 census), 8. Lakások és lakóépületek adatai, Hungarian Central Statistical Office, Budapest, 1963, pp. 26-32
  9. ^ 1990. évi népszámlálás (1990 census), 26. A lakások adatai, Hungarian Central Statistical Office, Budapest, 1993, pp. 260
  10. ^ "General information on various student flats and building types in Budapest". Budapest Corner. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  11. ^ Housing factories and panel works in Hungary (Hungarian), p. 3
  12. ^ a b Zsuzsa Körner - Márta Nagy: Az európai és a magyar telepszerű lakásépítés története 1945-től napjainkig, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Budapest, 2006, pp. 323-324, ISBN 963-9535-45-1
  13. ^ András Ferkai: Lakótelepek, Budapest Főváros Önkormányzata, Budapest, 2005, pp. 74, ISBN 963-9170-86-0
  14. ^ a b Tamás Egedy: Kiskedvencből mostohagyerek? (Hungarian)
  15. ^ Népszabadság Online:
  16. ^ Largest housing estates in Hungary (Hungarian), p. 274