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Initiative group "The Flowers of Ukraine"

“The first notice about the fence installation around the "The Flowers of Ukraine"("Kvity Ukrainy") house was posted at the beginning of June in our local telegram channel "Slobidka Neighborhood" where we usually discuss new restaurants, plan volleyball games or resolve utility problems. Half a year before, the building was not used in any manner. We had no idea what was waiting for “The Flowers of Ukraine“. At the beginning of June, locals noticed that something weird was going on around the house. It was not clear: was it renovation, reconstruction, or demolition of the building?

Our group of concerned neighborhood residents gathered in the park in the evening to discuss our next steps. We went up to the guards and got the information that there would be reconstruction, so the look of the building would be changed. Later, we discovered that the property developer was planning reconstruction with a superstructure for the office center and underground parking that would completely destroy the authentic project.

We have been trying to hold a peaceful dialogue with a property developer. We have been actively protesting against illegal actions happening to an architectural symbol of our neighborhood for two months already.

Our initiative group consists of 5 architects, a historian, a communications specialist, an SMM specialist, a cameraman, and an illustrator.

Taras, Nastya, Lesya, Vita, Dasha, Yaroslav, Anya, Ulyana, Pavlo, Yulia. We all gathered here with different life experiences. Each of us has a job, art projects, personal life, but it’s been two months since most of our free time we commit to the initiative because we can’t do otherwise. The property developer often accused us of being “paid activists,” but we are here not for money. Why live in a city if you don’t have any rights?

"The Flowers of Ukraine" — is a unique building in the city center, a place of the collective memory of Kyiv citizens. It was built in 1985 according to a design project by the architect Mykola Levchuk.

Initially, it was both a greenhouse and an educational center that provided a powerful research platform. It used to be a flower shop as well. The building became a place for social activities in the neighborhood from the very beginning. Many people have memories about it: some people took flower arranging courses, others — bought potted plants that are still in their apartments. Some stood in line to buy carnations. The grapevines decorating the building for over 20 years were of great importance for some people. And some were inspired by "The Flowers of Ukraine" to become architects.

Over the last year, around 20 iconic buildings of pre-revolutionary and Soviet periods became under threat of demolition.

The situation around "The Flowers of Ukraine" is an example of how a tight-knit neighborhood community can unite to resolve a critical issue. Over the last two months, we have held a peaceful demonstration, “I am with flowers,” to support the conservation of the authentic architecture of the building. More than 200 people participated. Before the demonstration, we thought only our neighborhood community cared about the building’s status. However, we saw that not only locals but also representatives of different NGOs, opinion leaders stepped up. We felt there was some interest from the city in general. It is essential to know that you are not alone. We managed to stop the demolition and create a cultural center close to the building to organize lectures, film shows and host art installations.

Kyiv residents have the right to decide what their city will look like. The town is a communal apartment where there are general rules, and the rules have to be equally obeyed by everyone without any exceptions. We want our city to have investments. We want to be respected. We don't want to have confrontations with the property developer. We think it would be to the developer's advantage if they find new applications available for this building together with the community and the city. It could be a great win for everyone.

We are constantly trying to act within the legal framework. We would like to share our experience with Kyiv's community and initiative groups fighting for a park, a lake, or a landmark. There are a lot of initiative groups in Kyiv who face the same problems as we do. They confront big businesses that lobby in Kyiv City State Administration or institutions of other levels.

We have an idea of unity and networking among initiative groups to broaden our impact. It is essential to share experiences and support each other. We alone can’t do enough for the whole city.

In this situation with "The Flowers of Ukraine," we were outraged by the devaluation of our right to legacy and public space. We want to remove ideology from modernist buildings and restore conservation status to modernism and monumental art of the Soviet period. Soviet heritage is not only about ideological context but also about the architecture created by our parents. It is our asset, and we protect it as our self-identification symbol. The right to legacy was the critical aspect that bothered our community — the right to quality public space. Usually, nothing good is built in the place of demolished buildings. And it is not only buildings that are removed but also public space that is invaded. Collective memory needs to have a physical manifestation that we all can turn to from time to time. It must not be destroyed.

We are not fearless. Some of us faced personal threats from security guards. We don’t know the investors well and whether they act within the legal framework.

We are not fearless. Some of us faced personal threats from security guards. We don’t know the investors well and whether they act within the legal framework.

When you are at a demonstration, you can see how many people with potted plants, people with children and dogs come up to support “The Flowers of Ukraine.“

One person cannot do much. Therefore the real force is in communities becoming more and more proactive. A community attracts attention and gets a public response. It becomes a crucial factor that has to be considered by property owners. We wish some more active residents knew their rights and how to protect them. And how to protect their right for the city.”

Initiative group "The Flowers of Ukraine."


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