Postwar Plans for Rebuilding Cities in Ukraine Should Start Now | Bloomberg

Architect Norman Foster spoke at the Bloomberg CityLab conference about what reconstruction could look like for Ukraine.

by UKCHP_Admin

Plans to restore London after the devastation of World War II began during the war’s darkest hours, in 1943, said British architect Norman Foster — and plans to rebuild cities in Ukraine should follow suit, he said.

Foster, the architect responsible for the “Gherkin” tower in London and Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, spoke on Monday morning about what postwar reconstruction could look like for Ukraine. Even as Russia continues its attack on the nation — missile strikes hit Kyiv, Lviv and other Ukrainian cities on Monday — plans for rebuilding are already taking shape.

Through the United Nations, the city of Kharkiv has engaged Foster and his foundation to consider a postwar plan. Foster met with the city’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov, in Geneva earlier this year, where the architect presented a “Kharkiv manifesto” and announced his ambition to recruit a team of the “best minds” in architecture, planning and engineering to develop a new city masterplan.

Located close to the border — the Ukrainian city is only 50 miles from the Russian city of Belgorod — Kharkiv has been hit especially hard during the war. As many as one-quarter of the city’s buildings have been destroyed since the Kremlin began shelling Kharkiv in February. While Ukrainian forces retook the city in an advance in September, Russia has fired missiles on the city as recently as Saturday.

“The mayor of Kharkiv reminded me about the Reichstag, an instance of something that would have the imprint of conflicts past,” Foster said at the Bloomberg CityLab conference, a summit for urban leaders hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute.

He was referring to work by Foster + Partners to restore the Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament, in 1995, a politically charged project that underwent multiple contentious redesigns. The sweeping renovation preserves features that point to the building’s long history, including the graffiti written on the walls by Soviet soldiers at the end of World War II. “There should perhaps be the equivalent in Kharkiv,” Foster said.

Foster’s ambitions have not been met with universal praise: Slava Balbek, the head of Kyiv-based studio Balbek Bureau, has called Foster’s plan “100 percent ineffective,” saying that any plan for reconstruction in Ukraine should start at the regional level. Architects need a better damage assessment for the whole country before they start planning to rebuild any specific city, Balbek told 
Dezeen, since smaller villages have also suffered unimaginable devastation.

Foster said that Ukraine should start thinking now about rebuilding sustainable cities — a sentiment echoed by the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, who said in pre-recorded address that Ukraine will need “a Marshall plan” for reconstruction. Such a plan appears to be underway for Kharkiv, at least.

“How can the city see this as an opportunity to regenerate itself as a city of the future and the present?” Foster asked.



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