"Architects for Heritage": the purpose of the UREHERIT project and why it is right now

/ Architecture /

The start of the International European cultural project "UREHERIT. Architects for Heritage in Ukraine: Recreating Identity and Memory", which will last three years and aims to bring together European and Ukrainian architects and heritage professionals for the preservation і restoration of Ukrainian urban and architectural heritage. Experts from the National Union of Architects of Ukraine tell why this project is important for Ukraine and timely.

UREHERIT unites European and Ukrainian architects in the effort to preserve and restore cultural heritage

It will last for three years and during this time European and Ukrainian heritage experts, architects, designers, engineers, other specialists, employees of local authorities and communities of Ukrainian cities through research, seminars, public discussions, events, continuous professional development and educational programs for architecture schools, will analyze the topics of protection and restoration of Ukrainian cultural heritage.

The project was initiated by the Association of Architects of Lithuania and is co-financed by the European Union program "Creative Europe".

"With this project, we want to contribute to the revival of the artistic sector - architecture - by inviting Ukrainian architects (in particular, specialists in heritage protection) to cooperate with European architects on equal terms: to share knowledge and experience and to search for new things together, to adapt to the conditions of Ukraine the methodology and ways of preserving and restoring Ukrainian urban and architectural heritage in a sustainable and inclusive way. Ukraine, like any other place, needs individual, not copy-paste solutions. Together with other partners of the project, we agreed from the very beginning to adhere to the principle that all methodologies, recommendations and proposals will be created together with Ukrainian architects, cultural experts and communities, trying to adapt the best European practices to the unique Ukrainian context.", - says Ruta Leitanaite, initiator and coordinator of the project, member of the Council of the Association of Architects of Lithuania.

Experts from the National Union of Architects of Ukraine talk about the purpose and importance of the project.

Anna Kyriy, Deputy Head of the Architectural Chamber of NSAU

"I believe in the power of professional communities. I will say more, I believe that professional communities are the backbone of every state. This especially applies to the architectural profession. Here I am inspired by the example of Europe because that is how it works. Society has confidence in architectural professional institution, and the government relies on it in making decisions. At the same time, European trade unions have real self-regulation, appropriate powers and authority. Professional communities must be institutionalized. Fortunately, we have such an institution in Ukraine - the National Union of Architects of Ukraine. But instead of directing all efforts to increase its capacity, we are forced to face enormous pressure from well-known influential persons of state power, who have decided to fight with the only independent self-regulatory organization in Ukraine.

The UREHERIT project is like a breath of fresh air for us, because it is primarily about the cooperation of eleven professional architectural organizations in Europe. This is a professional collaborative effort to develop policies and approaches to the protection, preservation and restoration of cultural heritage in Ukraine. And this is precisely the work that professional communities should be engaged in, and we feel like we are in the native environment of high-quality professional European dialogue.

The UREHERIT project inspires and pleases, because it will definitely have a good result, and the involvement of a large number of international organizations will not allow this result to be ignored.

The main beneficiary of the project is the Ukrainian society, which has a huge demand for the preservation of our architectural heritage as an important part of the common Ukrainian history and identity. I see an increase in institutional capacity and public trust in our organization as an added value for NSAU. I really want Ukrainians to perceive the Union of Architects as their protection and support."

Oleksandr Chyzhevskyi, President of the National Union of Ukraine

"This is the first time for Ukraine that such a large union of Ukrainian and European professional institutions will take place for the study of historical architectural heritage. 

Combining the experience of 11 European trade unions and applying it to Ukrainian realities can create a new Ukrainian method that will become indicative for European countries as well.

We expect that the powerful combination of experience of European trade unions will help to reboot the system of preservation of architectural heritage as a whole, bring it to a new modern level, provide solutions to pressing issues and fill in the gaps."

Olga Neshta, doctor of philosophy in architecture, member of NSAU

"Among the methodologies and recommendations that are planned to be developed within the framework of the UREHERIT project, there are topical and important issues, one of which is the accessibility of architectural heritage objects, for example, museums for people with limited mobility. This problem was relevant even before the full-scale invasion, and now it is even more important. The situation is particularly complicated by the fact that many museums are located in historic buildings, which make adaptation for groups with limited mobility or visitors in wheelchairs an additional challenge.

In addition, after the beginning of the large-scale invasion, many museums in Ukraine evacuated their collections for preservation. However, the war revealed structural deficiencies with fund repositories, which require the development of new recommendations and project solutions taking into account modern security risks.

Therefore, the museums of Ukraine need to update their fund repositories and increase inclusivity."

Olga Terefeeva, communications manager of NSAU

"The preservation of cultural and historical heritage is a hot topic for the entire society, which during the massive destruction caused by the actions of the enemy army acquired an even greater meaning and emotional context. Historical heritage is a source of information and a manifestation of our history as an independent nation, and at the same time a familiar element of modern life, as a manifestation of our usual idea of ​​cities and villages. The regulation and definition of what is subject to conservation exposes many different views and leads to disputes, which prevents systemic quality actions for restoration and use for the benefit of society.

The goal of the project is objective research and the search for systemic solutions for the preservation of historical heritage, as Ukrainian cultural DNA and a resource for the restoration of the state, involving the best specialists of the European Union and Ukraine."


Read more about the project, its purpose and participants here.


See also:

Flaws and perfection: architectural heritage under the hood of prejudice

The profession of an architect-restorer in Ukraine. Problems of education and the development of the industry in the conditions of war


Discrimination of modernism as a way of destroying memory