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  • Architecture in War

    The situation of built heritage in Ukraine

    Text: Eszter Götz

    How should a country protect its architectural heritage during wartime? From Palmyra to Timbuktu, the question has been raised tragically many times – and it arises again in connection with the war in Ukraine. In June 2022, the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) and the Urban School of Sciences Po jointly organized a conference with the participation of leading Ukrainian architects and scientists, as well as Ievgeniia Gubkina, co-founder of the Urban Forms Center in Kharkiv, and Krista Pikkat, Director of the UNESCO Entity for Culture and Emergencies. Since the revolution of 2014, there has been a national debate in Ukraine about architecture as a means of national belonging, citizenship and new art forms. The modernist buildings became popular creative venues for domestic and foreign artists, helping the flourishing of the local counterculture, the process of grassroots democratization and European integration. Since February 2022, through images of the destruction of Ukrainian cities, war has become the main link between architecture and human suffering. Since the beginning of the war, Ukrainian architects have shifted from their traditional duties to immediate service of the emergency. They design relatively fast-build homes for displaced people, document the destruction of Ukrainian cities, educate the public about the importance of heritage preservation, and make serious efforts to prepare for post-war reconstruction.