Founder of Viceversa Architektur+Medien in Stuttgart in 2006, the German architect Ruth Schagemann took over the leadership of the Architects' Council of Europe (ACE) in January 2022. Here, she reaffirms the solidarity of the ACE with the architects and people of Ukraine.
Europe has entered a new phase in its history that could allow it to find a new unity. For the first time the European Union is explicitly integrating the built environment into a comprehensive strategy on climate change and resilience. The climate crisis and its consequences, of which many of us are now aware, coincide sharply with the war against Ukraine, a sovereign European country. The Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) condemns Putin’s war against Ukraine and expresses its deep solidarity with all those affected by this war.
Considering that a quality built environment and heritage are powerful drivers of well-being, identity, social cohesion and economic growth, the ACE is very concerned about the destruction of the Ukrainian built environment. Difficult as it may seem, our Ukrainian colleagues are already looking ahead to the post-war period and to the reconstructing the infrastructure and the many cities that have been devastated by the war. Ukrainian architects will have to be an integral part of the process of rebuilding their country. The ACE encourages EU architects to work with Ukrainian architects, particularly in the context of EU funded projects.
The current situation in Ukraine is challenging our European democratic values. In this context, the ACE is convinced that the New European Bauhaus can be meaningful and useful. Architectural action will have to be measured more than ever by moral values. The principles and ambitions of the New European Bauhaus, together with its community of partners, could help Ukraine to meet the challenges ahead. Culture should be seen as a key driver for the development of a sustainable and democratic society – to this end, heritage will be a valuable resource for the re-creating of Ukraine’s multicultural European identity.
It is also a question of translating the principles of quality architecture, as defined by the New European Bauhaus – aesthetics, inclusiveness, sustainability – and the Davos Quality System for Building Culture, into tools that can guarantee the quality of urban and architectural design, such as architectural competitions or fair and quality-based public procurement procedures. Genuinely democratic processes are essential for quality urban developments, so these principles can only be successful if citizens and local communities are involved in the processes of building new cities, new neighbourhoods and quality built environments.
The architecture of the future in Ukraine will have to reflect the European democratic values for which Ukrainians are currently fighting, and European architects are ready to support them.
Ruth Schagemann, President of the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE-CAE)