In the middle of the European Industrial Revolution in 1830, factories were in need of workers and foreign workers were in need of accommodation. This is how Europe discovered an unusual type of residential building and enriched the architectural fund with a new facility: an apartment house. Such houses were built by private individuals and companies, who wanted to get an income not from selling flats, as it was commonly practised, but from renting them out. This is why the buildings were also called profitable houses.

How a profitable house (or an apartment house) is different from a normal house

It was recognisable by the well courtyard. Such a yard was created when the land plot was surrounded by the walls on four sides. Under the courtyard could be a laundry room, a boiler room and other facilities.

Flats were small in size, so the space between the windows was much smaller horizontally than vertically. This gave an apartment house a compressed or elongated appearance.

The entrance to the cheap flats was on the courtyard side, while the entrance to the expensive ones was on the street side and it was called the front entrance. 

Apartment houses in other countries

Elsewhere in the world the European type of profitable houses with ground-floor shops and courtyard-wells was also adopted. In some other countries rental accomodation was different. In Belgium, for example, it didn’t differ from ordinary new buildings. And in Germany the main feature of the profitable house was its low-rise structure: apartment buildings were not higher than 3 or 4 storeys.

German apartment houses are still in demand today. Only 40% of Germans prefer to buy a flat as soon as they have an opportunity. The other 60% prefer to rent, and buy a property only when they reach the age of 40.