When was started in Ukraine, the faculty and students of the Kharkiv School of Architecture (KhSA) were forced to flee from their city. After three weeks of being scattered across Ukraine and Europe, they decided to reconvene in Ukraine and continue their work. The school relocated to Lviv, one of the safest cities in Ukraine, in order to restart their in-person education. Various platforms and institutions in Lviv, like the Lviv National Academy of Arts, are hosting the dislocated institution and providing continuous support. The KhSA is also looking for financial support to help keep the school open.
This marks a new stage in the development of the KhSA, as the focus is shifting toward addressing Ukraine’s current challenges, anticipating the post-war challenges, and helping future architects and urban planners understand their crucial role in creating a path for Ukraine’s recovery. The school is reformulating the curriculum and is adapting its Bachelors and Masters program to reflect the new reality. The new modules are addressing themes like pre-fabrication and dwelling as a response to the high demand for rapidly produced accommodation; heritage, memory, and critical reconstruction; sustainability and social responsibility and studies of the evolution of vernacular buildings and their adaptation.
Given the unsafe environment in Ukraine, one of the threats is the phenomenon of “brain drain”, as people with skills and knowledge essential to the physical reconstruction and rebuilding are fleeing the war zone. KhSA’s mission is also to accumulate and nurture the intellectual and technical forces within Ukraine. The school also strives to become a platform for communication and dialogue between international collaborators who are joining in the effort to rethink and recover Kharkiv and other destroyed cities, once the areas become safe.
Once settled into the day-to-day reality of life in displacement , the staff and students from the Kharkiv School of Architecture are also seeking to contribute their time and skills to help fellow citizens by volunteering. Oleg Drozdov, the founder of KhSA and director of Drozdov & Partners, initiated conversations with the local authorities in Lviv about the support they need in order to cope with the large numbers of displaced people arriving in the city. The need to provide emergency shelters and fast accommodation was flagged. With support from architects in Poland, alongside Ponomarenko Bureau and RePlus Bureau, Shigeru Ban’s Paper Partition Systems (PPS) were deployed to Lviv. KhSA’s staff and students contributed to site planning, layout, design, and construction, of these internal partitions that were rapidly installed in 16 locations in Lviv and Uman.
The school is currently asking for donations to support its program of training a new cohort of built environment professionals to address Ukraine’s current challenges for housing and shelter and plan for its postwar reconstruction. The financial support could help keep the school open and the students involved in education, as many young students are unable to pay for their studies, even despite drastically reduced tuition costs. Besides financial support, KhSA also welcomes academic, technical, and material collaborations and partnerships to achieve its goals.