Derzhprom Building Kharkiv Monument Competition

Kharkiv Competition Commemorative Monument Freedom Square, Derzhprom Building, Ukraine, Property Images

Derzhprom Building Kharkiv Monument Competition

Modern Ukraine Skyscraper Architecture – Design Contest Controversy

26 Nov 2016

Kharkiv Monument Competition For Freedom Square

Commemorative Monument for Freedom Square, in front of the Derzhprom Building

Information from Bohdan Volynskiy architect founder of NGO “Critical thinking:

Incompetence of the local authorities puts Europe’s first skyscraper complex in danger

“We are currently preparing to sue the local administration to stop the illegal and non-professional competition.”

The Derzhprom or Gosprom (Ukrainian: Держпром; Russian: Госпром) building is a constructivist structure located in Freedom Square, Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Built by architects Sergei Serafimov, S.Kravets and M.Felger it was to become the tallest structure in Europe for its time.

A group of architectural grassroots organizations and proactive architectural community from Kharkiv, Ukraine are trying to share their concerns with the global architectural community:

“Built as a result of open competition in 1928 in Kharkiv, Derzhprom building once named by “The Guardian” as Europe’s first skyscraper complex. It is situated on the one of the largest squares in the world. However, apart from Derzhprom itself, it is the whole ensemble of Freedom square which is an outstanding landmark of urban planning, widely recognized by international experts.

Photos by Ivan Avdeenko:
Derzhprom Building Kharkiv

Derzhprom Building Kharkiv

On the 4th of November, Kharkiv local government announced a competition for a commemorative monument to be placed in the center of the round part of the Freedom square, just in front of the Derzhprom building. Local architectural community finds these proceedings rather alarming for a number of reasons. Apart from the fact that the competition brief contains a lot of violations of the effective Ukrainian laws, there is a strong probability that the results of the competition will lead to disastrous consequences to the whole ensemble of the square.

First of all, the local scope of the competition does not correspond to the significance of the architectural heritage it deals with. The competition hasn’t received any promotion beyond Kharkiv, which is quite outrageous considering the importance of this area.

Photos by Paul Itkin:
Freedom Square Kharkiv

Freedom Square Kharkiv

Another disturbing issue is that the competition brief does not contain any recommendations concerning the relationship between the proposed monument and the surrounding modernist heritage. Instead it says that the size of the monument should correspond to the scale of the surrounding buildings, without giving any further details. Formulated in this way, this clause is likely result in design proposals that will damage the view over Derzhprom.

Besides, the competition brief does not take into consideration the ensemble of the square as a whole, being limited to only one small part of it. However, the competition brief does not pay sufficient tribute to the square ensemble.

Originally the square was expected to be the place for large-scale public rallies and military parades. Over the last few years, in the wake of political developments in Ukraine, the square has become an arena for political clashes. One of such protests ended in the overthrowing of the monument to Lenin which used to stand there. Obviously, the whole area and its purpose need global reconsidering and wide discussion, but the competition brief does not seem to be concerned with this issue. Surprisingly, it does not even specify the topic the would-be monument is expected to commemorate. According to the commentary given by one the officials in charge, this issue remains at the discretion of the authors of design proposals.

The last but not the least thing which has been disregarded by the competition brief is the significance of the square as an important infrastructure element for thousands of students from the neighboring University, as well as for other citizens.

Photos by Paul Itkin:
Freedom Square Kharkiv

Freedom Square Kharkiv

Adding insult to injury, one of the jurors is Yuriy Shkodovskyi who is also the head of Ukrainian Docomomo chapter, which unfortunately exists only on paper, but hasn’t done any visible work since its creation in 2012. Mr.Shkodovskyi has not given any comments as to the competition either.

The group of local architectural NGOs and activists are now gathering signatures under the letter to the city mayor with an appeal to stop the competition and to prepare a high standard international competition aimed at reconsidering the square as a whole, rather than focusing on the commemorative monument alone. We also have a strong intention to reinforce the competition brief with experts recommendations and conclusions of public discussions with the citizens.”

Derzhprom Building Kharkiv Monument Competition images / information from Bohdan Volynskiy architect founder of NGO “Critical thinking

Website: Derzhprom Building in Kharkiv


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Derzhprom Building Kharkiv Monument Competition Building

Website: Derzhprom Building Kharkiv