Renewal ≠ Renovation »
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We are living in strange times... or are they actually historically common? For a long time, the destruction of our immediate environment has seemingly eluded our mental space. The conflicts of war and the ravages of environmental disasters have only been felt at a distance. But this is no longer the case. The pulse of the times has renewed these existential themes and their proximity.
A Closely Watched Park. Moravské náměstí Park in Brno »
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Hidden behind a transparent barrier of temporary fencing, the 2022 redevelopment of one of the most prominent public spaces in Brno was attracting curious glances from passing locals during its construction. The park opened in stages during spring 2023 (to allow new plantings to take root) and it has just seen the end of its very first summer season. The new cafe with its elliptical roof support became a natural focal point, placed precisely on the visual axis from the main city square. Next to the cafe and the children’s playground is the central multi-purpose space with a pond-like water feature, bordered by a long wooden bench. Rainwater management and landscape solution, designed by Klára Zahradníčková, also played a significant role in the project.
Since the very beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the volunteer group Livyj Bereh (Left Bank) has been helping people who literally lost the roof over their heads. The Kyiv based organisation activities concentrate on the left bank of the river Dnieper—hence the name. In May 2022 the volunteer roofers started working in the Chernihiv and Kyiv provinces, repairing roofs as well as several school buildings for pupils to study in. In November 2022, the Livyj Bereh also began restoring roofs in the Kharkiv province, which was severely damaged especially in its northern section. The works continue to this day with more than 290 roofs rebuilt in various municipalities in these three regions.
Renewal Cities »
Renewal is a reaction to destruction. Not creative destruction, which is often purposeful and directed, but destruction by natural phenomena or actions driven by social or group purposes. Renewal is not a minor adaptation or a literal replica of an original situation that no longer exists. How can we frame the idea of renewal outside the typical cliché of seeing it as restoration? How are these destructions connected within urbanism, and are they anything at all? Are they an act of resilience and will to stand up to the fate of our environment, or a simple social necessity?
Ukrainian Architecture Under Russian Attack »
Destroyed and damaged Ukrainian cities. Even those far away from the front lines. Statues and monuments wrapped in canvas, protected with sandbags or scaffolding. These are just some of the innumerable Russian war crimes leveled against Ukrainian cultural heritage, national history, and identity. What comes next? Plans for the future renewal of the country are an inextricable part of the discourse that believes in the Ukrainian victory.
IBA Ukraine: Post-War Renewal Tool With a Czech Touch »
The idea to organize an international building exhibition in Ukraine, modeled after the tried and tested German Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA), has garnered the support of more than 300 architects worldwide, including several Pritzker-prize winners. Can this platform assist in the reconstruction of Ukraine? Can Czechia help realize this idea, originally conceived in Prague?
Helping Ukraine at ETH Zürich. Kees Christiaanse and Gyler Mydyti Interviewed by Petr Návrat »
In February 2022, we were all deeply shaken by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and many of us asked how we could help. How can we as architects, urban designers, and city planners contribute to mitigating consequences of this war? Last year, Kees Christiaanse, architect and urban designer known for projects like the Hamburg HafenCity or Zürich’s Europaallee, former Chair of Architecture and Urbanism in the Institute for Urban Design at ETH Zürich, started a remarkable initiative. Together with Kosovo-born architect Gyler Mydyti, they founded a volunteering platform at ETH’s Department of Architecture called Swiss Network with Ukraine.
When War Starts, What Does the Municipal Architect Do? Anton Kolomieitsev on the Development of Lviv »
“Lviv is the most European city in Ukraine,” replies Anton Kolomieitsev when asked to describe the city where for the last four years he’s been the head of the department of urban planning. Lviv saw major development in the Middle Ages, later becoming the capital of Galicia, a province of the Austrian Empire. Back then, Poles, Jews, Germans and Ukrainians all lived there, next to each other. Lviv shares with Prague a common history of belonging to the Habsburg Monarchy as well as the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lviv is only the seventh most populous city in Ukraine, but this data might not be true anymore. Since the Russian invasion, four million evacuees went through the city and it is reported that approximately 150,000 chose to stay.
Re:Mariupol. Urban Reconstruction and Development Vision for Mariupol »
The city of Mariupol, Ukraine, is a textbook example of Soviet urban planning creating restrictions for further development. The war’s destruction has led us to completely revise our approach to the city's planning and form. Remembering the price we paid for defending it, and the effort to de-occupy it in the future, we’re putting the value of human life at the foundation for the future of the new Mariupol.
Lidice: a Utopian Village. Architects Have Always Dreamed About a New and Better World »
On June 10th 1942, by the order of Police Chief K. H. Frank, the village of Lidice was destroyed and its population massacred. It was not just punishment for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. Obliterating Lidice was meant to show the world the kind of retribution Nazi Germany had in store for those who dare to defy it. For the Nazi propaganda, tens, hundreds, not even a thousand individual deaths could serve better than the destruction of one village—particular, tangible, nameable. Back then, almost everybody was born in a village like that, or had parents or extended family there. Destroying it had a larger effect than executing legions. It was the symbolic destruction of home. That’s also why Lidice was renewed after the war, unlike other villages destroyed by the Nazis. The symbol of home rose again. More meaningful. However, the new village was not built in the same place as the destroyed one. Old Lidice was preserved in its emptiness, a dystopian antithesis to the new village utopia.
Two Years Post Tornado. Around Hodonín with Ondřej Stolařík »
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In summer 2021, South Moravia, between Břeclav and Hodonín, was hit by a tornado. This natural disaster claimed six lives, hundreds of injuries and billions of Crowns worth of damages to private and public property. Considerable financial and human resources were expended on immediate response and recovery in the area—humanitarian aid was followed by urgent repairs to infrastructure and buildings. But how does the area look now, two years after the event? We joined municipal architect Ondřej Stolařík on a visit to the most impacted parts of the town of Hodonín.
Most Towns, Mining Towns. Renewal of the Historic Town of Most and Its Surroundings in the Spatial Study of the Southern Part of the Most Lake Area »
The story of the city of Most is one of the unique examples of destruction and renewal in Czechoslovak urbanism. It is a combination of tragic fate, ideology, technical skill and the destruction of the natural and cultural environment. Was it a post-industrial landscape achievement—a hydric environmental recultivation—or an urgent and simple enough resource grab, which was the beginning of relational catastrophes? How does one reflect on the past and move on to the successful renewal of this place in the sustainable future?
The Catastrophe Colours »
A colour fan for architectural design based on an analysis of images of both past and present man-made catastrophes—Catastrophe Colours was originally a book, published in 2014, later developed into a 2018 exhibition at the BNKR in Berlin. Colours are everywhere. They are taken from nature, in the materials that were used to make them, or they are almost useless additions, devoid of meaning, with poetic names given to them by the industry. Attempts to categorize colours always reflected the dominant worldview of the time, therefore the contemporary model incorporates contradictory realities and the appearances of today. It questions our relation to the world and our ability to ignore or understand it.
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