Lithuanian architects gather a community for the reconstruction of Ukrainian cities

At the first international event “Rebuild Wonderful Ukraine”, representatives of Lithuanian and Ukrainian architectural communities and non-governmental organizations discussed how Lithuanian urban planning professionals could help Ukrainians rebuilding war-ravaged cities. One of the most important priorities is the fastest possible reconstruction of kindergartens and schools, transforming the Soviet spatial propaganda into an inspiring vision of the future Ukraine.

The “Rebuilt Wonderful Ukraine” initiative brings together architects from Lithuania and the international community who have experience in transforming Soviet urbanism – from architecture to land management.

We Lithuanians have a lot of good experience with transforming soviet regime inheritance and we want to share it with Ukrainians. We are glad that fellow architects and urban planners, as well as philosophers, lawyers, institutions and potential sponsors are actively joining the initiative.

“At the first event, we learned a lot of valuable information that will help us to direct our efforts in the right direction”, says Gilma Teodora Gylytė, the initiator of the “Rebuilt Wonderful Ukraine” project and the founder of the architectural company “DO Architects”.

Mindaugas Pakalnis, the chief architect of Vilnius, who participated in the event, presented different visions of cities, reviewed the differences between post-Soviet and Western cities, distinguished the differences of development strategies of cities such as Amsterdam versus Dubai, and inspired Ukrainians to choose the path of a Western European city development.

Gilma Teodora Gylytė proposed 4 essential first steps of rebuilding destroyed cities, which would show a vision of the wonderful future of Ukraine – rebuilding schools, rebuilding them by transforming Soviet spaces into cozy and inspiring community spaces. The next steps are: a street project, an apartment building project and a light fixture in every window as a symbol of life and community.

Oleg Drozdov, the founder of the Kharkiv School of Architecture and the ideological leader of this project in Ukraine, emphasized that Lithuanian urban planning specialists have experience which is very close to Ukraine situation, so they can feel the local context and specifics much better and offer architectural and urban solutions suitable for Ukrainians.

Dovydas Vitkauskas, lawyer, founder of the support organization “SOS Ukraine”, drew attention to the great importance of promoting private property in rebuilding cities; philosopher Viktoras Bachmetjevas – about the need to include as wide a circle of citizens as possible in each stage of reconstruction, to enable them to participate in decision-making, because it is these citizens who will live in the reconstructed cities.

Rūta Leitanaitė, chairwoman of the Lithuanian Union of Architects, raised the need for close cooperation between local and international architects. Architects from both countries agreed that it is also necessary to find fast, cost-efficient, and modern accommodation solutions for the inhabitants of the destroyed cities.

The Vice Minister of Education of Ukraine Andriy Vitrenko, who participated in the event, highlighted the merciless fact of this war – the Russian army primarily destroys the country’s educational institutions, thus aiming to destroy the Ukrainian education system for many years and paralyze the development of the entire country.

“We greatly appreciate the help of the people of Lithuania and this initiative. We will especially need help in restoring the Ukrainian education system, creating sustainable learning models, rebuilding our schools”, said the Vice Minister of Education of Ukraine. According to him, having successfully restored its educational institutions, Ukraine will be able to become a source of renewal for the whole of Europe.

“Close cooperation will be a key element in the reconstruction of Ukrainian cities. And the Ukrainians themselves will have to answer the question of what kind of new country, what kind of new cities they want. Ukrainian society will live with the trauma of the war for a long time and the search to an answer what the new Ukraine should be, will be sought for a long time,” said Oleg Drozdov at the event.

Sabina Grincevičiūtė, architect, one of the founders of “DO Architects” and Donatas Baltrušaitis, urban planner, founder of “Bauland”, emphasized that when rebuilding cities, it is first necessary to focus on local and specific projects that gather communities and set an example. The current strategy is to try to rebuild the destroyed buildings as best as possible by de-programming the Soviet propaganda and changing it to the Ukraine of the future. Long-term master plans for cities would certainly not be effective at this time.

The “Rebuild Wonderful Ukraine” project invites all Lithuanian architects, as well as philosophers and media, NGO communities to discuss and form an effective Lithuanian proposal for the reconstruction of Ukrainian cities. Today, the spiritual support of Ukrainians is particularly important, so discussions about the successful and beautiful future of Ukraine are very necessary,” says Gilma Teodora Gylytė.

First event photo gallery


First international event details:

Date: June 22th, 16.00 (Vilnius time)
Place: Vilnius, Betono Fabrikas, Naujoji Riovonių g. 21, Vilnius
Online: https://youtu.be/gH74aLi0YO0

Program:

16.00 – Welcome speech
16.10 – Mindaugas Pakalnis: Implementing quality urban planning, architecture and infrastructure solutions in Vilnius
16.30 – Gilma Teodora Gylytė: Transformation lessons from Vilnius. Home, street, kindergarten, school and a lamp in the window
16.50 – Viktoras Bachmetjevas: Urban transformations and humanity
17.00 – Dovydas Vitkauskas
17.10 – Oleg Drozdov: War and architecture
17.30 – Discussion

Speakers:

Gilma Teodora Gylytė

DO ARCHITECTS, Rebuild the Wonderful lead.
Vilnius, Lithuania

Gilma is a driving force in human oriented architecture, facilitator of innovative and tremendous changes in Lithuania. She co-founded DO ARCHITECTS in 2013 and is renowned for many creative yet mundane projects. She strongly believes that even largest scale developments shall be designed in human scale. Gilma is an influential voice of a new generation – usual key-note speaker in public debates and lectures, international conferences and cultural institutions, authot of many dedicated articles. Gilma vigorously brings people and organisations together to create positive urban impacts for everyday life. The mastermind of Rebuild The Wonderful project, bringing together people to share post-war urban experiences with the aim to change their future.

Oleg Drozdov

Drozdov & Partners, School of Architecture. 
Kharkiv, Ukraine

Oleg is a Ukrainian architect, artist, and educator. Founder of the architectural bureau Drozdov&Partners and co-founder of the Kharkiv School of Architecture. Oleg knows well what is the role of architects in helping refugees, developing guidelines for post-war Ukrainian cities, what makes Kharkiv a utopian city, and a phenomenal future that awaits Ukraine after the war. Oleg now focuses on helping to solve the humanitarian crisis—how to build temporary shelters, interior partitions, and furniture for refugees. And he is already thinking about what to do with so many damaged structures after the war, how to rebuild and reuse Ukrainian cities.

Mindaugas Pakalnis

Chief architect of Vilnius city.
Vilnius, Lithuania

Mindaugas is a man with a clear urban vision. In his position as Chief City Architect at Vilnius Municipality, he is responsible for the general strategy of the city in terms of architectural, landscape and cultural heritage planning, with a great interest in sustainable mobility issues. Over the past decade Mindaugas has successfully developed the new Master Plan for Vilnius City and executed a number of prestigious projects including the New City Centre on the right bank of river Neris, as well as the Park of Architecture as the city’s biggest brownfield project. 

Viktoras Bachmetjevas

Philosopher. 
Vilnius, Lithuania

Viktoras is a philosopher with an interest in ethics, especially the intersection of ethics and the philosophy of religion. Viktoras received his M. Phil. in Philosophy from KU Leuven in Belgium before completing his Ph.D. on irony and ethics in Søren Kierkegaard’s thought in his native Lithuania. He has taught philosophy for ten years at various Lithuanian universities. Currently, Viktoras’ research is focused on the philosophical problem of the concept of forgiveness. Outside academia, he has had a career in public communications and served as an advisor to the Lithuanian Minister of Culture.

Dovydas Vitkauskas

SOS Ukraine.
Vilnius, Lithuania

Dovydas has more than 20 years of experience in European institutions and public sector reforms funded by EU. He spent more than 5 years in Ukraine as a Team Leader of projects focused on promotion of good governance, property rights and business climate. He now is Director of SOS Ukraine, an NGO focused on helping the country in the times of unprecedented crisis.


About us

We unite architects, national and local authorities, international donors, developers.

We promote best international examples of architectural and urban development and redevelopment. First of all from Ukraine itself, Lithuania, as well as other Central and Eastern European countries.

We focus only on projects which meet all 3 criteria:

1. are human-oriented and inspiring,
2. are easily adaptable and fast implementable
3. are cost effective.

Rebuild The Wonderful philosophy:

Our old cities like Kiev, Vilnius or Iasi (Romania), have wonderful urban roots. They have grown from handy and practical human architecture which formed everyday habits we admire.

However, in the process we have inherited either the soviet modernistic formal and anti-human approach which developed into our today’s rules, standards, our normal. But it is not normal. It is not natural. 

What if our homes and neighbourhoods are not supposed to be soulless? What if our streets are supposed to be full of life? What if our kindergartens would teach us the comfort and coziness the space can provide? What if our shopping malls return to being shopping streets connected to the whole city?

We are collecting our thoughts, knowledge & insights to change the existing status-quo. We want to create positive improvements in our daily lives not only in Lithuania & the Baltics, but in Ukraine and all the rest CE urban regions. We have a dream: after this mad and meaningless war, Ukraine will take all the shared experiences and lessons we learned and become the symbol of the new Europe and new Normal – cozy, local, inspiring and wonderful.

Our mission is a better world through better architecture and urbanism.

Our task is to gather the best examples of how post-Soviet spaces are being transformed and reloaded, to help build consensus among architects, central and local government, developers and financial donors, and to help adapt this to Ukraine’s rapid and effective reconstruction.

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