The first weeks of the war, waged on Ukraine by Russia, were extremely difficult for the Kharkiv School of Architecture (KhSA). Everyone had to escape the hell into which our city had been turned. Our teachers and students are now relatively safe. Almost everyone fled Kharkiv.


Now that some time has passed, we must consider our future. The Kharkiv School of Architecture has decided it will continue working, maintaining its presence in Ukraine. We need to take a long-term view at this challenging time – and this means pursuing the rigorous education of a new generation of architects and urbanists who will remain in Ukraine and will rebuild our cities.


We also strive to become a platform for communication and dialogue between our international friends and collaborators, aiming to rethink and recover Kharkiv and other destroyed cities after the war.


The wider European academic community has already provided invaluable support to Ukrainian students. But “brain drain” risks depleting Ukraine of vital skills and knowledge that are essential to its physical reconstruction and rebuilding its future. It is crucial that we accumulate and nurture the intellectual and technical forces within Ukraine itself. This is a key part of KhSA’s mission.


The first few weeks after the resumption of study, the school worked online. It wasn’t easy, as many of our students and faculty do not have stable internet connection. We are all involved in volunteering to help our fellow citizens at this time of great need. Several of our students and staff have joined the defence forces and the army. Nevertheless, teaching and learning needs to continue despite this war. Ukraine will need architects and built environment professionals to rebuild its cities for its citizens. This is why KhSA is joining forces with a range of collaborators and supporters in Ukraine and across the world. And it is why we are focusing our energy on adapting the skills we need to the reality of the present situation – one requiring shelter and housing, short- and long-term accommodation, and the reconstruction of society and its citizen and civic spaces.


We are certain of Ukraine’s victory! Therefore, despite the horrors of this war, we have been working closely together with local professionals and the wider architectural community to plan the reconstruction of our country.

Перші два тижні війни, яку оголосила Україні росія були дуже складними для Харківської школи архітектури. Всі старалися вибратися з того пекла, в яке російські війська перетворили наш Харків. Наші викладачі/-чки і студенти/-тки зараз у відносній безпеці. Майже всі виїхали з Харкова. Дехто ще в дорозі до безпечного місця тимчасового проживання. Але вже зараз ми стараємося заспокоїтися, наскільки це можливо, і думати про наше майбутнє.


Харківська школа архітектури прийняла рішення, що ми продовжуємо роботу і залишаємося в Україні. Для нас дуже важливо в цей важкий час думати на довгу перспективу, а це – освіта нашого молодого покоління архітекторів/-рок, які залишаються в Україні і будуть відбудовувати наші міста.
Ми також прагнемо стати площадкою комунікації і діалогу наших друзів і експертів архітекторів/-рок з різних країн, окрім росії, для відновлення Харкова і інших зруйнованих міст після війни.


Підтримка, яку надають нам зараз західні університети, пропонуючи прихисток нашим студентам безцінна, але ми маємо зробити все можливе для того, щоб акумулювати всі можливі сили, зусилля і ресурси в Україні.


Школа зараз переформатовує свою програму і ми відновлюємо навчання онлайн. Це доволі складно, оскільки в багатьох наших студентів/-ток і викладачів/-чок зараз немає безперебійного зв’язку через інтернет. Всі ми долучаємося до роботи в волонтерських проєктах, а декілька наших студентів і працівників пішли в тероборону і армію. Тим не менше нам дуже важливо тримати зв’язок, підтримувати один одного і продовжувати навчання в бойових умовах, бо нам всім з новими знаннями і досвідами повертатися в наші зруйновані міста і відновлювати їх.


Ми віримо в нашу перемогу і готові будувати наше майбутнє разом з українською спільнотою та архітектурним середовищем.

In March 2022, we evacuated the Kharkiv School to Lviv, Ukraine. This city was chosen for several reasons. At present, in times of war, Lviv is one of the safest cities in Ukraine. The School intended to continue in-person education as soon as it was possible. Another important factor was the support rendered to us by various platforms and institutions in Lviv.


The Lviv National Academy of Arts has become our major partner. The Academy has generously proposed to host our School and provided it with premises to continue the training process. This opportunity has allowed us to recommence our academic work in an in-person format, and to gather most of the School team and faculty in Lviv. 


The first School open days were conducted in May, with much interest being shown by young people and their parents. The pool of our enrollees has broadened geographically and now, besides Eastern Ukraine, it also includes students from the Central and Western regions. The public events we conduct in Lviv attract vast audiences and this gives us strength and motivation to continue our affair in a new city, becoming part of the city’s stakeholders and involved in its discussions.


Sharing the Academy of Arts’ campus is an opportunity to develop cooperation with a state-run higher educational establishment, whose new team puts into practice the values of freedom, creativity, and responsibility. Thus, the Lviv Academy and the Kharkiv School share a common system of values, rooted in an awareness of the importance of high-quality education and innovative, up-to-date approaches to socially-focused training. Joint projects and exchanges of experience strengthen both our institutions.


For KhSA, the Academy’s campus became a hub for training and research. As part of their autumn semester Studio course, our second-year students worked with the Academy’s library, conceptualising it as a place of inter-sectional experience, an exchange of knowledge, and informal training. Our students’ workshop on barrier-free environments was based on research into the accessibility of campus spaces. Students identified challenging cases and designed relevant project proposals. A joint traineeship in construction for the first-year students of the KhSA and the Academy was focused on the campus public spaces. It concluded with research into spaces that were customised for the students and the local residents.


KhSA refurbished the premises to meet the needs of the staff, students, and its educational programs. We prepared studio spaces, modelling, and carpentry workshops, and relocated the library from Kharkiv, which is now rapidly expanding with support from international publishers and individual researchers. We worked hard to ensure that the spaces we are using generate comfortable and supportive learning environments.

Once settled into the day-to-day reality of life in displacement to Lviv, the staff and students of KhSA sought to contribute their time and skills to help their fellow citizens by volunteering. Seeking to have an even greater impact through collective action as professionals, Oleg Drozdov, the co-founder of KhSA and director of Drozdov&Partners architectural practice, 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 urgent need to provide accommodation – mostly in large halls, as collective centres – was flagged.


With the fortuitous support of architects in Poland who had erected similar shelters for Ukrainian refugees there, alongside Ponomarenko Bureau and RePlus Bureau, Shigeru Ban’s Paper Partition Systems (PPS) were deployed to Lviv, consisting of readily available cardboard tubes and curtain fabrics to provide internal partitioning in collective accommodation. 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. They provide safe spaces for families within large halls, allowing privacy and dignity, and the return to some sense of normality after arduous journeys across Ukraine in search of safety. The first requirements requested by new arrivals to Lviv were for spaces of rest and peace. These requirements became our main goals.


One of the advantages of the partition system is the simplicity of its installation. After a short training, non-construction professionals were able to install it. It was very important for us to use materials that could be reused afterwards, and that are readily available in the local area. Before receiving the partition systems from Poland, KhSA upgraded one shelter with partitions made from construction fences. The same approach was used for furniture. Beds and seats for public spaces were made of pallets.


All shelters were constructed and installed by volunteers, many of whom are students of the School. Some students became members of the design team, such as Konstiantyn Palieev, a third-year student, who designed shelters and supervised their construction.

Identifying and responding to the challenges faced by Ukraine’s cities and citizens today, in the midst of war, is part of the social responsibility that the Kharkiv School of Architecture has taken upon itself. Beyond the immediate crisis, physical destruction alongside the devastation of communities and paradigms demands a new educational program for the architects, urban planners, and built environment professionals of Ukraine’s future.


We have adapted our Bachelor’s program to reflect this new reality. Rooted firmly in a nuanced historical knowledge of the local context, and sensitive to the changing dynamics and drivers of the present, the school developed a series of modules that will furnish Ukraine with the skills, capacities, and knowledge required to rebuild.


While the curriculum is still in development, themes are likely to address:


  • Prefabrication and dwelling, responding to the high demand for rapidly-produced accommodation, and building on a rich tradition of panel housing.
  •  Urbanism and the architecture of peace grapples with the social responsibility of built environment professionals in this new context – as mediators, advocates, and citizens – and the possibility of spaces and places being tools for peace.
  •  Heritage, memory, and critical reconstruction turn the destruction of collective memory into a reflection on heritage and cities of the future.
  •  Typology and climate reflect upon the evolution of vernacular buildings and their adaptation – and adaptability – to a changing climate and social situation.
  •  Sustainability refers again to our social responsibility, given the urgency of addressing climate change and preventing environmental degradation through our actions. Technology and scientific understanding are aligned with our understanding of history and heritage, construction, and building.

In March 2022, the Kharkiv School of Architecture started asking its international and national networks to think about the reconstruction of Ukraine. Since then, an expanding group of experts regularly meet to discuss critical urban planning issues that are coming into play during the war, and which are likely to present a new context after the war’s end.


Ro3kvit: urban coalition for Ukraine is a Ukrainian organization composed of specialists in urban planning, regional planning, housing, heritage, and other related fields, such as economy, law, energy, circularity, sociology, and policy-making. Ro3kvit works as an open-source network in close collaboration with students and citizens. At least half of Ro3kvit’s participants are from Ukraine, working alongside international experts who have a strong connection with the country. Here, research, design, and policy advice evolve into new strategies and methodologies for rebuilding Ukraine. KhSA is a partner of Ro3kvit, and provides part of the educational program for the coalition.

The Academic Year 2022-2023 in Lviv:

  • 21 students from all over Ukraine enrolled in the Bachelor’s program at KhSA. Three groups with a total number of students were recruited for the Preparatory Year program in Lviv, Kyiv, and online.
  • As part of the school’s Public program, 14 interdisciplinary lectures, discussions, and seminars were held by the school teachers and invited guests. Among them were architects Ashley Biggham, Shigeru Ban, Darya Ozhiganova, Marta Buryak, Mykhailo Shevchenko, Andriy Pavliv, Anna Pomazanna, Yulian Chaplinskyi, Maria Celik, Rainer Gel, Alex Cotterill, researchers Alla Petrenko, Iryna Matsevko, Natalia Otrishchenko, as well as artists Kostyantyn Zorkin, Yevhen Korshunov, Borys Filolenko, Ostap Slyvinsky, and Andriy Boyarov.
  • We held four meetings of the Reading Club, where we discussed both academic theoretical works and classic ones. 
  • As part of the Recruiting Campaign, we created a project “Become a student of the Kharkiv School of Architecture for 1 day”. It is an opportunity for everyone who wants to feel like a student of KhSA to participate in all elements of the educational program for one day.
  • Students went through the full cycle of creating projects within the “Studio” block and held 10 public revues where they presented the results of the “Photography”, “Graphics”, “Relief”, “Space”, and “Pavilion” educational blocks.
  • The students of the school went through the Winter Practices “Portfolio Intensive” and “Housing Question”. The purpose of the second one was to give students an understanding of designing houses in accordance with the lifestyle of customers.
  • We held the contest “Become an architect” and awarded the winner with a grant for studying at KhSA.
  • We organized the Exhibition of the Year 2023 with the name “Forest”. It was an opportunity for our students to present the work they created during the whole year with the updated program. 
  • As part of the Summer Practice, the 1st year students developed a catalog of projects of universal spatial interventions for secondary schools. A number of selected projects were implemented on the territory of the school № 73 in Lviv. You could watch a video of the Summer Practice here.
  • The 2nd year students completed a Summer Practice in Switzerland on the digitization of buildings. Then they took part in the project of digitalization of architectural monuments of the cultural heritage of Lviv.
  • Media wrote a number of articles about the KhSA’s activities: about the relocation, the decision the stay in Ukraine, the challenges during the relocation, our support, the Reading Club, the temporary shelters for Ukrainian refugees, the visit of the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, about the project of scanning the architectural monuments of the cultural heritage of Lviv, about the Summer Practice of the 1st year students and so on.