I guess saving energy trumps feeding the human spirit with beauty if you're a certain type of efficiency geek. Or if you're a certain type of reporter. The caption on the lead photo with this article actually says, "The prefab's future is looking rosier."
Gee, that's good news. Isn't it?
Well, here, let me be fair. Here's the first part of the article:
Starting in the 1960s, virtually all new public housing projects in eastern Europe were pre-fabricated tower blocks. Millions of people continue to live in the buildings, which were built in an age when saving energy was low on the list of priorities. Now a group of researchers from the University of Kassel is doing their best to make the towers more environmentally friendly.
Engineer Hartmut Hübner and his colleagues have been working in Dunaujvaros, south of Budapest, to convert Communist-era high-rises into environmentally friendly housing. The high-rises aren't just inefficient in terms of energy consumption, they are also a potential source of social conflict, according to Hübner.
(Don't hold your breath. It's not what you think...)
"Here in Hungary, as in other eastern European countries, heating costs are still subsidized," he said. "But that will change. And with rising energy costs, it'll be difficult for the people here to pay their heating bills."
The Solanova Project, of which Hübner is a part, has already succeeded in retrofitting a seven-story building in the small town. The biggest problem was that prefabricated components for the buildings no longer exist, so the engineers had to experiment with parts such as solar panels or energy-efficient windows.
OK, OK, I have no objection to making existing buildings more energy efficient, especially if the government is about to hand over the costs to people who are stuck there.
But does it strike anybody else as somehow tragic that somehow all this gets reduced to 'efficiency good, energy waste bad'?