06 July 2022, 21:34
Reconstruction of Ukrainian cities: how local authorities should act

The authorities should rebuild cities for people together with Ukrainian and foreign specialists, considering the opinion of the public!

The war completely or partially destroyed many Ukrainian cities, including Mariupol, Volnovakha, Popasna, Sievierodonetsk, Irpin, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv. The authorities estimate that about 40,000 houses and social infrastructure facilities need urgent restoration, and the losses already exceed USD 700 billion.

At the same time, the process of post-war reconstruction has already begun. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal presented the Fast Recovery Plan to restore Ukraine's infrastructure at a conference in the Swiss city of Lugano and the seven principles (the “Lugano Declaration”). The Build Back Better approach is heading all the principles — to build better than it was.

Cities must become human-centered and barrier-free, while maintaining their own identity. Earlier, we discussed the experience of restoration and reconstruction of European cities. Some cases were successful, but somewhere the authorities failed. However, we must consider this experience, take useful ideas, and avoid fatal mistakes.

Tips by the Transparent Cities team

  1. To develop not only new plans, but also discuss and improve existing or previously proposed concepts for improving urban space. Thus, some of the planned and implemented post-war transformations were closely related to older and more general discourses about the improvement and transformation of the city that already existed at the beginning of the 20-th century. 
  2. To form a new vision both for the whole city and for some of its districts. To determine what needs to be preserved in the urban structure, and what needs to be changed, what the buildings will look like, and what the territory lacked (green spaces, convenient transport system, pedestrian infrastructure, etc.). In addition, to think about the meaning of monuments, including to avoid replication of collective trauma.
  3. To involve citizens in the active discussion and even the process of reconstruction because cities are not just a set of streets and houses, they are the people and the resource with which they fill this space. The person comes first, not ideology, the interests of developers or drivers. Previous experience of reconstruction and rebuilding has shown that the lack of dialogue with residents rarely allows creating cities that are convenient for people, and not for authorities or architects. 
  4. To conduct competitions and discussions among architects and urbanists. Competition of values and ideas will not only allow to create the space for creativity, but also to find the most effective solutions for the territories and their residents. The architects of Ukraine have already united and created a Coordination Headquarters working on a strategy to restore our cities and communities.
  5. To create an institution that would bring together representatives of the executive power, local self-government bodies, architects, urbanists, and activists. It should develop legislative frameworks, as well as visions and concepts for rebuilding and improving urban space. There is already a National Council for the Recovery of Ukraine from the War.
  6. To rebuild residential neighborhoods and outskirts of cities considering the principles of sustainable development. For example, to create pedestrian green spaces, use alternative energy sources, increase the energy efficiency of buildings. One of the principles of Ukraine's recovery plan is compliance with environmental standards.
  7. To expand the network of partnerships with countries and cities. This allows not only the exchange of experience, but also the engagement of humanitarian assistance for the renovation of the affected areas. Thus, 11 foreign municipalities have already expressed their readiness to help Ukrainian cities with reconstruction.

It is important to encourage the state not only to transparency, accountability, but also to dialogue with society. After all, only in cooperation with the citizens of the country will it be possible to rebuild the country “better than it was.”

Together, we will surely create a Ukraine of the future — a blooming and attractive state for life and investment.




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