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OVER4 Project

Integrated renovation |  Over4 concept

The communist condominiums | the 770 series 

The Solar Decathlon Europe 2019 competition challenges participating teams to develop innovative renovation projects of the existing buildings and that is why we focused on 5-level multi-family dwellings built during the communist era all over Romania. These buildings occurred predominantly during the accelerated industrialization of the country, and this involved the construction of many workers' neighborhoods in a shorter time, using economically viable solutions.


From the constructive point of view, they are made of prefabricated concrete slabs with a superficial layer of thermal insulation on which a plaster is applied as exterior finishing. For this reason, they are a big energy consumer and have a very low degree of comfort.

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The most common type of the 5 storey condominiums is the 770 series, built especially after the major earthquake from 1977. Its last revised version from 1983 is one of the most widespread models of residential buildings with prefabricated panels in Romania, with resistance to earthquakes up to 8 degrees of Richter scale. This is also another reason why it makes sense to develop an integrated renovation project - they are many, are structurally resistant and therefore need long-term intervention.


Depending on the living requirements at that time, these were built in several configurations, which sum up 12 sub-assemblies. We focused on the Pb1, Pb2, Pb3 and Pb4 sub-assemblies.


Compared to the present time, these buildings do not meet the current comfort conditions and energy efficiency requirements, and through the Over4 project we propose an integrated approach on how to renovate these condominium by reducing energy consumption, by increasing the visual, acoustics and thermal comfort and by reducing the impact they have on the environment.


All these measures must be taken on the basis of a coherent renovation strategy, which is currently lacking in our country. Considering these, Over4 project can be a starting point towards a "deep renovation" strategy of the communist condominiums.


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770 series | current problems 

The problems of large residential areas are extremely visible, as well as the difficulties faced by the owners’ associations, the central and local authorities and other institutions involved in the attempts to change the current situation. The problems faced by housing complexes are intricate and interrelated: from the poor current condition of the buildings (about 40% are made out of prefabricated panels and have thermal insulation problems), to utilities (water, heating, electrical installations, gas, and sanitation that are expensive and present losses), to the difficult access to parks, health centers, education institutions, shops and the overall connectivity through good roads and parking spaces.

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  • small average area of each housing unit;

  • insufficient number of rooms, related to the structure of the families (the preponderance of the two and inadequate spaces reserved for the annexed functions;

  • reduced natural ventilation possibilities through overall design poor quality of initial materials, execution often deficient;

  • acoustic deficiency associated with structural construction types;

  • insufficient degree of thermal insulation on the initial project;

  • excessive consumption (electricity / heat, domestic water);

  • materials, building elements, damaged equipment, systems and facilities - affecting the degree of thermal insulation and structural safety of the whole building;

  • unhealthy living condition; particular circumstances with essential influence: high humidity, the occurrence of chronic condensation accompanied by mold;

  • reduced acoustic comfort - unacceptable internal noise level (it is not considered a congenital defect

Over4 renovation | concept 

In order to resolve as many problems as possible from the listed above, it is necessary to understand from the start that not all proposed interventions are possible in a direct way. There are no national strategies or specialised buildings to relocate the owners in order to proper intervene and resolve the problems that supposed to be repaired from inside the building.

That’s why our approach to renovation is to keep the impact on owner’s disturbance as low as possible. Considering this, all the problems that this kind of buildings have, should be separated into two groups: 1 - mandatory repairs; 2- optional repairs.

Spaces between the blocks are often crowded with cars or garages and cannot be used for community purposes due to the lack of management in addition to the idea that more than a quarter of all blocks 770 (27.60%) are found in the initial stage. We propose to capitalize the unused terraces in order to compensate the problems from the ground.

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Over4 | deep renovation

We propose the extension of the individual’s apartment usable area with the help of prefabricated horizontal modules, in order to increase the useful surfaces. From an architectural point of view, one of the objectives of the individual measures is the spatial and functional reorganisation of the apartments according to the identified needs of the different categories of inhabitants.

Remodeling gaps in the facades by demolishing the railing will allow for better interior lighting and a more fluid relationship with the balconies. At the level of the balconies it is proposed to expand and transform them into a multi-purpose space which can function both in a closed regime, similar to a greenhouse during the winter and in open regime as a terrace, during the summer, contributing substantially to increasing the comfort of the apartments by expanding the area of the day zone.

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Starting from the main issues of the building and occupants, the intervention upon building takes into account the following aspects:


  • Social: common spaces and facilities, increased comfort of the occupants. The rooftop extension could work in different scenarios, such as housing, co-working spaces or common spaces to serve the tenants;

  • Environment: Sustainable architecture based on renewable energy sources. Existing buildings have a significant environmental impact through high energy consumption from conventional sources (gas & coal);

  • Economic: reducing maintenance costs and capitalization of new spaces. Appropriate thermal insulation, reduction of thermal bridges, energy efficient windows and buffer spaces considerably reduce the energy consumption and, implicitly, maintenance costs. Exploiting the rooftop by building new apartments or facilities that could bring economic benefits not only to the associations of tenants but also to the entire local economy;

  • Urban: increasing density of space built inside the city.

Following the rooftop extension process, we propose 8 different scenarios depending on the area and the requirements of the inhabitants. So we came to the following variants in which we integrated either 1, 2 or 3-room apartments, or co-working or common spaces dedicated to the tenants

770 condominiums from Bucharest | ”Dormitory” districts

In order to meet the need for cheap housing during the process of industrialisation in the communist period, in Bucharest especially there were built districts of condominiums for industry workers, which are generically called ”dormitory districts”. 

Long term goal | Urban Regeneration 

One key point regarding the concept of urban regeneration is the ability to refunctionalize a space, to change and improve its functionality within the community, reshaping it. Thus, the vertical extension allowed us to create different urban scenarios.  By proposing different scenarios showcasing different approaches within one residential zone we are able to regenerate the entire space. Urban revitalization concepts such as introducing commercial and public spaces within areas that are currently being used only with one purpose (such as collective housing units that are mainly used in the night time) will impact both the general visual aspects and mainly the local community’s well-being. 

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