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International architecture competition launched to upgrade damaged housing units in Kharkiv

International architecture competition launched to upgrade damaged housing units in Kharkiv

Damaged housing units in Kharkiv, Ukraine

As part of the new Masterplan Concept being developed for Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second most populous city, the Norman Foster Foundation along with the Kharkiv City Council, the UNECE UN4UkrainianCities Initiative, Arup, the Kharkivproject Institute and Buildner are launching an international competition to upgrade housing and residential neighbourhoods in the city. 

This serves as a pilot project as part of the UN4UkrainianCities initiative led by UNECE, taking the masterplanning process to the next stage. UNECE has been supporting the city of Kharkiv and the government of Ukraine since the start of the war to prepare for urban reconstruction efforts and to address housing challenges.    

The competition calls for the development of an innovative modular system capable of retrofitting existing concrete panel housing blocks and enhancing public spaces, to create safe, energy-efficient and vibrant neighbourhoods. The competition will focus on Saltivka, the most-populated district in Kharkiv with some 400,000 residents, and more precisely in North Saltivka, the most heavily damaged area since the start of the war against Ukraine. Given the similarity of residential areas across Kharkiv, this project aims to replicate the winning designs in other residential areas throughout the city. 

As well as retrofitting concrete panel housing blocks, proposals must envisage re-erecting blocks that have been demolished due to irreparable damage. The system must also provide civil protection structures (bomb shelters). 

Around 75% of Kharkiv citizens live in this type of housing, and together with the public spaces and communal facilities that make up these districts, they constitute an important component of the city’s identity. The competition aims to develop design solutions to upgrade these buildings and public spaces to improve urban living conditions, and to generate safe, lively, and energy efficient neighbourhoods with a modernized but historically rooted identity. 

Constructed at fast pace and replicated across the city to provide accommodation to factory workers in the second half of the 20th century, the concrete panel houses commonly lack proper insulation and quality living spaces. While Saltivka has good public transportation and road connection with other parts of the city, together with schools and some isolated commercial areas, its almost exclusively residential character is regarded as an increasing problem for liveability, safety, and sustainability.  

Competition participants will be expected to develop concept design-level proposals. After the announcement of the winners in October 2024, selected proposals will be further developed into detail designs for construction. Winning teams will collaborate with local stakeholders at this stage under a funded scheme. 

Photo credit: Kharkiv City Council

Countries: Ukraine

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