Five pilot projects are at the heart of the new masterplan unveiled by British architect Norman Foster for the post-war reconstruction of Kharkiv in Ukraine. Representing a collaborative partnership between multiple stakeholders including engineering firm Arup, the Kharkiv Group of Architects, and the Norman Foster Foundation, the masterplan will be developed through five core projects, namely, heritage, rivers, industry, housing, and the science neighbourhood.

The team at the Norman Foster Foundation in Madrid has been working together with an advisory board since April 2022 on a masterplan for Kharkiv, following a request from the Kharkiv Mayor to Lord Foster through the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Located just 40km from the Russian border, Kharkiv has faced large-scale destruction from heavy bombardment, damaging several heritage structures.

Developed on a pro-bono basis, the Kharkiv masterplan is a result of over 100 meetings and working sessions between local and international stakeholders, and also includes inputs from Kharkiv citizens. The five projects were carefully chosen in coordination with local residents, and will help inform the wider masterplan for the city. The masterplan will follow the 14 guiding principles discussed with the Kharkiv Group of Architects, composed of over 10 architects, urban planners and historians from Kharkiv.

This pilot project approach will not only deliver real projects that benefit Kharkiv citizens but will also inform future urban regulations and help prepare local professionals and industries for the city’s reconstruction.

Key highlights of the 5 core projects:

  • The Heritage project will create a new architectural landmark in the city centre, promoting a respectful approach to rebuilding historical constructions and humanising surrounding public spaces.
  • The Rivers project will transform a 6km long strip between the Kharkiv and Nemyshlya rivers into an ecological, pedestrian, and biking connector that will evolve into a city-wide mobility network.
  • The Industry project will repurpose the polluting coal plant into a clean energy and food centre to inform industrial modernisation across Kharkiv.
  • The Housing project will retrofit existing panel-housing blocks to generate safe, modern, and energy-efficient housing across the city.
  • The Science Neighbourhood project will introduce high technology industries, research and start-ups to revitalise the industrial base of the city.

Additionally, Lord Foster will lead the design of a landmark building for the new science-based industries.

The Kharkiv of the future will be “a city of a unique combination of industry, science, and culture, as well as the development of the latest technologies; a magnet for entrepreneurs, tourists, and representatives of various industries; and a city of innovation, where traditions become the foundation for modern solutions”, says Kharkiv Mayor, Igor Terejov.

Following his meeting with Lord Foster, Terejov says, “Together we discussed the Masterplan of the city and the reconstruction of residential areas, as well as the creation of not just a science park, but a whole scientific community, a real scientific district.  It will have everything – a platform for the development of start-ups, universities, housing, a green zone, a market – all the necessary infrastructure for a comfortable life and economic development.”

A comprehensive summary document is being prepared by the Kharkiv Group of Architects and the Norman Foster Foundation, which will be shared with the wider public in the coming weeks.