Norman Foster presents his manifesto to rebuild the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine

Invited by Mayor Ihor Terekhov, Lord Foster's reconstruction plan for the city of Kharkiv is postulated to become a blueprint for the reconstruction of other Ukrainian cities.

by STIRworldPublished on : May 10, 2022

The devastation and consequences of the current war in Ukraine has occupied the news cycle and social media feed for the better part of the last two months. Yet hope springs eternal as plans to reconstruct some of the urban areas affected are already emerging. The hostile forces are yet to retreat from the borders of Ukraine, but the dream to recover and rebuild is already finding partners in its actualisation. The first proposal to have emerged comes from a meeting between Mayor of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhov, who worked with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Secretariat in Geneva and British architect Lord Norman Foster, to rebuilding of the City of Kharkiv.

An older image of the Lopan-Kharkiv river spur with the multiple layer of the city’s urban fabric in the context | Kharkiv Masterplan | Norman Foster | STIRworld
An older image of the Lopan-Kharkiv river spur with the multiple layer of the city’s urban fabric in the context Image: Dan Villef, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In April 2022, the Ministry for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine developed draft recommendations for plans for rebuilding cities and human settlements, which are expected to be applied by local governments as part of the reconstruction efforts. Building on longstanding cooperation, the Ministry requested UNECE support for the further development of the Recommendations. In response, UNECE established the UN4Kharkiv Task Force, which now comprises more than 10 UN agencies who will work together to support efforts of the government in developing innovative approaches to rebuilding cities in Ukraine. The Task Force includes representatives of the UN Resident Coordinator office in Ukraine, UNOPS, UNDP Ukraine, UNEP, UNDRR, WHO, IOM, OCHA, OHCHR, UN-Habitat and UNICEF Ukraine.

Peaceful protests for Ukraine taking place at the Russian Embassy and Trafalgar Square in London | Kharkiv Masterplan | Norman Foster | STIRworld
Peaceful protests for Ukraine taking place at the Russian Embassy and Trafalgar Square in London Image: Courtesy of Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona, Unsplash

The reconstruction plan for the city of Kharkiv, which is the second-largest city in Ukraine, is postulated to become a blueprint for the reconstruction of other Ukrainian cities. Mayor Terekhov met with Lord Foster at the Forums of Mayors in early April. Lord Foster is a supporter of the organisation and acts as its informal patron. At the forum Mayor Terekhov outlined his vision for the new master plan: “In the new and peaceful Kharkiv, we would like to pay great attention to developing the IT sector, high-tech industrial parks and industry. It is an opportunity to reconstruct large production facilities and breathe into them a second life. In terms of architecture, comfort and security, the city of Kharkiv should achieve a completely different level. Our plans are to build a state-of-the-art city centre, to diversify our neighbourhoods so that they would differ from each other. We will also build bomb shelters, dual-use underground parking lots, multi-level road junctions, bike paths, new recreation areas, parks and squares." The Mayor invited Norman Foster to develop the new city master plan.

Protestors from different countries come together in support of Ukraine at the Russian Embassy and Trafalgar Square in London | Kharkiv Masterplan | Norman Foster | STIRworld
Protestors from different countries come together in support of Ukraine at the Russian Embassy and Trafalgar Square in London Image: Courtesy of Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona, Unsplash

Lord Foster accepted the invitation and has released a manifesto to rebuild the city of Kharkiv where he pledged the following in what is referred to as THE KHARKIV MANIFESTO:

I undertake to assemble the best minds with the best planning, architectural, design, and engineering skills in the world to bear on the rebirth of the city of Kharkiv. In the spirit of combining a planetary awareness with local action, I would seek to bring together the top Ukrainian talents with worldwide expertise and advice.

The first step would be a city masterplan linked to the region, with the ambition to combine the most loved and revered heritage from the past with the most desirable and greenest elements of infrastructure and buildings – in other words to deliver the city of the future now and to plan for its life decades ahead.

At the height of the pandemic, London updated a masterplan, the roots of which was a plan commissioned in the darkest days of World War II. A masterplan is an act of confidence in the future for generations still to come.

The ariel view of the central district of Kharkiv in Ukraine | Kharkiv Masterplan | Norman Foster | STIRworld
The ariel view of the central district of Kharkiv in Ukraine Image: © Oleksandr Malyon, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Work on the Master Plan started on April 12, 2022, with the first coordination meeting of the UN4Kharkiv Task Force. “Negotiations must bring an end to this senseless war now so that urgently needed sustainable development efforts may resume. Amid the ongoing destruction and suffering in Ukraine, we must also keep hope and look to the future. This is why UNECE is fully committed to working with the Government of Ukraine and the city of Kharkiv to plan ahead for sustainable reconstruction efforts, connecting the expertise and vision of our partners in the UN system and Lord Foster,” stated UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova. In parallel to the development of the Master Plan, the UN4Kharkiv Task Force is working on redesigning the national draft recommendations for plans for rebuilding cities and human settlements and mapping capacities of UN agencies and of available approaches and instruments to support the government’s efforts to rebuild Ukrainian cities and regions. The Presentation of the first outcomes of the UN4Kharkiv Task Force is expected to take place on May 24, 2022.

Read more details about the UNECE and the UN4Kharkiv Task Force here

Read The Kharkiv Manifesto here

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