“In the face of the mounting tragic events in Ukraine, the International Union of Architects (UIA) expresses its unwavering solidarity with all those affected and calls for unity and peace among nations”.
Thus begins the official statement of José Luis Cortés, President of the UIA - International Union of Architects, regarding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
On February 24, following the official recognition of the separatist republics of Donbass on Ukrainian territory, Russia invaded Ukraine to "demilitarize and ‘de-nazify’ the country" (Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation).
It is a real war in the heart of Europe. This very serious large-scale military attack immediately and unanimously met with the condemnation of international public opinion that is mobilizing appeals, petitions, and declarations to express their strenuous dissent from this absurd war.
“On behalf of the international community of architects, we condemn any act of violence or war affecting the well-being and dignity of humans, join the global appeal against war and call for the immediate restoration of peace.
The UIA was founded in 1948 - after the Second World War - to unite architects around the world and actively participate in the reconstruction of devastated cities and villages. We continue to believe that the greatest obligation of humanity is the preservation of peace.
As the leading global organisation of architects committed to creating safe and healthy environments, we also call for the protection of the invaluable architectural heritage threatened by this conflict”.
Ruth Schagemann, ACE - Architects' Council of Europe President, declared support for the National Union of Architects of Ukraine:
"On behalf of the Architects' Council of Europe and the entire architectural European community, we would like to express to you our support for all Ukrainian architects in the face of the political situation in which Ukraine and its citizens ﬁnd themselves.
The Architects' Council of Europe ﬁnds it unacceptable that one country grants itself the sovereign right to shape the borders of another sovereign country. For years we have been developing international cooperation with partners from Eastern Europe and we want to strengthen it. We share a common history and past experiences, as well as the same challenges of the present and the future.
We believe that support for each other among architects in Europe is fundamental, both for the development of our organisations in times of peace and in the event that one of us is affected by a crisis.
We declare our support to the National Union of Architects of Ukraine and its members in this difficult time".
The National Union of Architects of Ukraine (CANY), following the invasion of its own nation, called on the UIA to revoke Russia's membership of the international organization.
CANY President Oleksandr Chyzhevsky, in a letter to President José Luis Cortés, writes:
“The National Union of Architects of Ukraine expects UIA to strongly and unequivocally condemn the criminal actions of the Russian government, which has launched a full-scale war against Ukraine. In addition, the silent and passive position of the Unions of Architects of Russia and Belarus shows their support for the deadly war against humanity. We expected words of support and regret from Russia's colleagues back in 2014, when their criminal state annexed Crimea and occupied Donbas, violating all international law. However, instead, a week after the annexation of Crimea, former UAR President Andriy Bokov went there to recruit architects to join the UAR. Moreover, the GA in Durban even elected him to the Council, and later - his successor Nikolay Shumakov. It seemed to everyone that this was a mistake. However, now it is obvious that this is not a mistake.
Those who do not condemn Russia's actions support them.
They support a crime against all mankind, incompatible with UIA's humanitarian goals. We are convinced that the UIA must decide on Russia's membership. If we turn a blind eye to their passive position, we will also side with the enemy, with the destruction of human values. It is important to remember that protection of human lives, humanism and culture are UIA's top priorities.
Let us demonstrate this decisively and unequivocally. We demand that Russia be deprived of its membership in the UIA”.
Nikolay Shumakov, President of the Union of Architects of Russia and the Union of Moscow Architects, recorded a video message addressed to architects with which he largely calls for calm and common sense.
It's unclear whether Nikolay Shumakov's speech came in response to the letter published yesterday by Alexander Chizhevsky, president of the National Union of Architects of Ukraine.
“Dear colleagues and friends. I am addressing all who are closely following the latest developments in the world politics these days. The only thing I would like to call for is to be reserved and objective while judging what is happening. Negative and sometimes even offensive statements are more and more often made by our peers on social media and in chats. That means that in defiance of common sense we succumb to ideological pressure, which is characteristic of any war.
I call on each and every member of the professional community, on architects, whose mission has at all times been to create for the future: please, do not be tempted these days to act as if you were politicians or military experts. Such intentions can cause a long-lasting and persisting moral disease to contaminate the society. I am asking all to be contained and respect those on the frontline fighting for their children’s lives and future”.
Russian architects and builders have signed an open letter denouncing military actions in Ukraine with which they are collecting signatures:
“We, the architects and builders of Russia, strongly condemn the offensive of Russian troops onUkraine territory. Foreign policy should be resolved solely by peaceful means! War cannot be an instrument of politics in the 21st century.
War devalues the very essence of the activity of an architect and urban planner, no matter what country they are in. It violates people’s rights: to life, security, self-realization, a comfortable and healthy environment – all those values that constitute the basis of our work.
The respect of neighbors cannot be won by force or destruction. But you can earn it by making your own country and your own home a better place.
Stop the war!”
Other petitions to stop the war appeared last Thursday and Friday. One of the largest petitions, among the top 50 in Change.org history worldwide, has already garnered more than 1,135,000 sugnatures.
These are the declarations of international organizations so far.
What is the position of Russian and Ukrainian architects about the conflict so far?
There are very few statements on the official websites and social profiles of Russian architects.
In most cases there is a silence that is already quite eloquent.
There are rare cases of personal opinions or very few positions taken on the war.
They move from more moderate positions to sharper and more resolute ones.
Someone, like the Russian architect, naturalized American, Harry Nuriev, founder of Crosby Studios, posting the image of a dove, hopes for a world without war and calls for peace.
Sundukovy Sisters - Design & Architecture Studio in Moscow posted Malevič's painting entitled "Black Square" and wrote:
The war between Russia and Ukraine is SHAMEFUL.
It is shameful for US, but unfortunately also for out children, a generation of very young and unborn Russians, who will have to bear the burden. We do not want our children, who live in an attacking country, to be ashamed of their army attacking a neighbouring independent state.
We urge all Russian citizens to say NO to this war.
We do not believe that an independent Ukraine is a threat to Russia or any other state.
We do not believe Vladimir Putin's claims that the Ukrainian people are under the power of the "Nazis" and must be freed.
We are calling for an END TO THIS WAR!”.
Ukrainian architects who have had the opportunity to express themselves on social media are clamoring for peace.
Igor Sirotov urges everyone not to hate all the Russian people, but those responsible for the attack:
“I write this post for the people who are starting to hate our Russian and Belarusian neighbors. You can hate the authorities and the government, and even the soldiers who went to take control of our country, but it's stupid to hate the people because of their passports or where they live".
“The war in Ukraine is in its 4th day. It is NOT a special military operation. It is NOT the salvation of the Ukrainians. It is WAR.
In Ukraine there are no fascists among the population and there is no "gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who have taken over power". In Ukraine, there are incredibly strong, patriotic and courageous people who are ready to defend their homeland to the end. As they are saying on Instagram: the president of Russia was able to rally Ukrainian citizens so that we have become one united people.
City residents have joined the ranks of defenders. Complete strangers host families in their homes and become relatives.
We want you to know that RUSSIA ATTACKED UKRAINE. Early in the morning while people were sleeping!!! Your children say they were sent for "training". And your children are dying here. The authorities thought that it would all pass quickly, without losses. But the Ukrainian army "will sacrifice body and soul for freedom".
Your media is lying to you. Open your eyes before it's too late!
What is happening now in our country is terrible. We will resist and fight to save and rebuild our homeland. Only God knows what will happen next with your countries. But don't expect anything good.
Now you ask yourselves: How can I help?
Go to the demonstrations. Support the Ukrainian army. Don't let your people go to war. Open everyone's eyes to the truth. DO NOT BE AFRAID. Do not be afraid, because we were not afraid in 2014 and we are not afraid today in 2022.
To Belarus. We know how not to be afraid. We believe that Russia can do it too. Fear of prison is nothing compared to the fear of losing loved ones.
PLEASE DO NOT REMAIN SILENT!
We are grateful for the support on social networks, but that is a drop in the bucket.
The whole world supports Ukraine. Sanctions have been imposed on Russia.
Some of our colleagues have fled abroad, leaving their homes behind. Some are sitting in air raid shelters. Every time during the air raids we ask them to "hold on and stay safe". We write this where we wrote about holidays and work problems and where we called upon our colleagues in the kitchen to eat cakes.
You must know this. We will not give up Kiev or Ukraine. You will gain nothing from this war except casualties, death and a very dim future. You can stop it. You must. It is your duty towards the world and humanity”.
Finally, Slava Balbek, from Balbek bureau, expresses his position with a simple but effective expression: "Kiev is the Capital of Freedom...and Freedom is Home"