UDP Managing Partner
Innovation defines leadership, competitiveness, sustainable development of business and society, even, if you will, government as a whole.
Ten years ago, an advantage of any commercial company in the market was directly dependent on how quickly it could develop and implement the production of a particular innovation. Nowadays to maintain this priority, investing heavily in new developments, is very difficult, almost impossible. The level of technological development of the advanced countries has levelled, and it allows you to instantly copy any invention. Today you design iPhone - tomorrow the competitors have presented on the market of its analog, you have created medication - other pharmaceutical companies have deciphered a formula and produced generics. The appearance of multinational companies, the growth of international competition, the development of informational technologies and the emergence of new social structures brought the world to the understanding of the fact that the strengthening and preserving of leadership for many years can only be accomplished if one produces innovative models, not individual discoveries, offer new schemes management and organization of production processes and social patterns.
In this case, any copying or borrowing will promote market expansion, the spread of the original product and increase brand value. That is why the largest companies, the best minds and talents all over the world now focused on the development of innovative models, which are based on the highest level of technical culture and the latest informational technology.
A good example of such an approach (albeit outside the scope of the construction) is the Uber system, which officially came to us, to Ukraine. Its message is simple: people are driving up the people. What is new in it? What is the secret of Uber success? What kind of innovation it used? And why it could not be done before? With the help of a special Internet applications Uber offered society a fundamentally different model of commuting. It gave the opportunity to the vehicles owners not turning into any private cabs or professional taxi drivers, better use of the car, increasing the percentage of its utilization, and generate additional income. For example, on the way to work to haul passengers. Uber customers have convenient and fast service, the quality of which is guaranteed by the system. It not only selects the professional criteria for the best of the motorists, but also monitors and evaluates their work, sifting unscrupulous drivers. Before the widespread dissemination of the Internet and the emergence of social networks such transport model was technologically impossible.
But let us turn to real estate development. At the time of all types of real estate shortage market developed so rapidly that there was no objective necessity to find new formats. From a marketing point of view, the problem was classically simple: determine the solvent customers and offer them the appropriate product.
If you look at what has been built in Kyiv in the last decade, the picture would be disappointing. In most part it borrowed foreign projects, adapted to the conditions of our market. They are embedded in the urban environment, without any system, with a complete disregard for the existing architectural landscape. Citizens are rightly indignant with the recent loss of identity of historic centers, with the lack of a unified urban policy, with transport infrastructure congestion, with degradation of cities’ cultural environment.
What do we admire by traveling the world, what remains in the memory? Only freestanding monuments and restored city centers? No, we value the overall architectural environment, architectonic buildings and public space, which create a unique emotional atmosphere. These places have become centers of attraction for residents and tourists, they remain in our consciousness as aesthetic designs. These are unique markers of urban environment, which regulate our mood, lifestyle, traditions, rituals, hidden from prying eyes meanings. To be certain of that, go to visit such a place as Shevchenko Park, the new and the old Botanical Gardens, Vladimir Hill, Mariinsky Park and look at the people carefully. Previously, such markers also included summer open-air cinemas, theaters, orchestral platform with brass bands on the weekends. But the winds of change offered some other models of the urban public space, which can also be attributed too innovative: flash mobs, book-crossing, the strategy of smart city, "invasive" tour of small groups of tourists too historical or previously inaccessible places. However, the old tradition is also gradually revived: after decades of neglect extensively rebuilt Kyiv cycle track, you can see more and more new public gardens and community orchestra and dance floors.
What do we value and love in our Kyiv above all, except the oldest landmark temples? Of course, the unique Kyiv nouveau, or rather, its subspecies - Kyiv secession. This magnificent facades and stucco apartment buildings, which were mass housing construction late XIX - early XX centuries. There is another center of attraction - Khreshchatyk. This site development of the 50s was a response to the desire of society, exhausted by the war years, to the beautiful and the good, and that was reflected in this kind of Kyiv "mannerism", all these naive cream rosettes, slabs, gingerbreads, spikelet and figures on the facades of houses Khreshchatyk. The spirit of "Stalin's empire" prevails on the western side of the street. With all the controversy architectural solutions it has become the face of our city. Every significant historical era left its mark on the streets of Kyiv. For example, constructivism of 30s represented a cinema "Zhovten" and former club "Pishchevik" (now "Slavutich") - in Podil, writers house ROLІT (“RObіtnikіv LІTeraturi") - on Bohdan Khmelnytsky street, 68, from the moody house of darkened brick on the corner of Bolshaya Zhitomirskaya and Gonchara streets - examples of what little is left of it. “Stalin's Empire", in the form of lavish "stalinok" once-valued by population in the center, and entire neighborhoods of “Khrushchev" and panel high-rise residential areas of Kyiv - all of the legacy of past epochs. Why did some buildings become hallmarks of the city, while others - unwanted birthmarks, from which we would like to get rid off?
The birth of a new architectural style always starts with understanding the needs of society. To implement this request primarily the appropriate technological possibilities are needed which, in turn, make it possible to open the talent architect. If such conditions are developed, there is an alternative architecture, which eventually becomes our architectural heritage. This has happened everywhere and always. On the industrial revolution of the late XIX - early XX centuries. North America answered with the construction of skyscrapers in the Art Deco style, which entered the history of American architecture called "style skyscrapers," and Europe - Modern, Art Nouveau, Yugendshtilem, secession, as in different countries and with different qualifications this trend was referred. At that time, the architects, which snatched a demand from the educated people of Kyiv to build comfortable rental housing, proposed a new format - a multistore apartment building. By that time the industry has already produced a sufficient amount of steel, the mass use of new materials such as concrete and reinforced concrete begun. This allowed the genius of Vladislav Gorodetsky and other architects to make a breakthrough in the architecture. Even the "Khrushchev," was for its time a symbol of progress despite the fact that the artistic merit of the architecture has been sacrificed to the basic human needs - the dream of individual housing. They created a new society - a new community and social relations, formed a new public space.
XXI century was marked in Ukraine by two landmark events - the Orange Revolution of 2004 and the Revolution of Dignity 2013-2014 year. What makes me, as a developer, as a citizen and a person who expects drastic changes and progress, surprised and disappointed?!
In turn, the society's desire for justice skillfully used the criminals who organized the blocking of construction projects and extortion system - under the "mantra" of the struggle against "tyranny of developers." The law enforcement agencies inaction to protect the property rights, with the connivance of the local authorities, scared off foreign investors from Kyiv for a long time, slowed down the development of the construction industry - a key employer and the "driver" of economic development. Instead, the investment boom and the expansion of international cooperation, we have received the economic downturn, capital outflow and brain drain.
The Orange Revolution, and the Revolution of Dignity were the mass events, so stunning and colorful that went beyond the national scale. But they have not left any significant architectural footprint. It's amazing: the most powerful impulse of change, the request of society to update a huge number of things, but did not find a powerful enough group of professionals who could have formulated this request in relation to architecture and urban planning.
Citizens of Kyiv did not receive alternative plans for development of the city by young architects. For example, the "old" architects no longer can, don't have the strengths. But what’s in the way for the young? Their peers 20s - 30s of the last century used the historic opportunity - they organized themselves, created the communities, and went out to the community with their manifestos. Denying authorities, outdated forms and rules, they were actively offering new models of urban environments, safely experimenting and left a valuable cultural heritage. And our creative forces are waiting for something. Kyiv needs, above all, meaningful development strategy and zoning. There have been attempts to work in this direction until the Department of Architecture of Kyiv stopped such initiatives. Remember, however, that the city is planed not only by architects. Urban PLANNING (urban planning) and Urban DESIGN (urban development) - are very different things. And who is to blame, that the city government pretends that there were no tenders?! Actually, no need to "reinvent the wheel", because for a long time already there is a concept of "fair-city space" and the principles of sustainable urban development. They just need to be applied to the planning of cities of Ukraine. We have talented professionals, architects and urbanists. But why did know about them so little? Thank God we live in the Internet age! If you have something to offer – no one can prohibit to offer, or why we do have all social networks for!? But further then the project of the monument to the fallen heroes of Heavenly Hundreds, even overriding, and proposals to demolish the discredited communist-era monuments, it never went. Maybe we should speak directly to the people of Kyiv, developers, developers, and not only to government agencies?!
All that is left after the Orange Revolution were the graffiti on the post office building, which the new government successfully erased. How could the new generations learn about these historic landmarks? Where will a grandfather take his grandson and what will he show him? Where is the triumph of the spirit embodied in stone, in glass and concrete, in new formats streets and squares?
Ukrainian society loudly has announced its rights for personal dignity, for decent living. Of course, it has done so by the means and in the terms that were then available to it. We call it the desire for European values, the European Union. But what was the main idea? People aspired to freedom, self-expression, the protection of personal choice, the rule of law, the supremacy of law and the development of their talents and the right to independently build their lives. This is a very strong target setting for politicians, parties and government. And for architects, for developers, for urban communities? What should express their request for a new format of the lives and dignity?
Being aware of the need to reflect the main age requirements, we develop a new urban development strategy under the ambitious title "Architecture Benefits" (Architecture of Dignity, Architectura Gіdnostі). This response of architects and builders to the desire of citizens for a decent life. It is aimed at the formation of the most comfortable living environment of people, having unlimited potential for development and adaptation to the needs of the growing population. We committed to make this environment susceptible to technological and technical innovations, and future challenges. But that in no way to affect the prevailing public space, the integrity of the historical monuments and historical environment of the city, its silhouette and traditional way of life. Also, neighbors of the future buildings should not be in any way prejudiced. What does let us to call this architecture of the new format? Creating the ideology of "Architecture Benefits", we spent a lot of all sorts of discussions with politicians, conceptualists, urbanists, architects, both in Ukraine and abroad. And we have noticed something. Now in the West - and in Italy and Austria, and in Germany, and in North America there is an active search for new innovative models of social organization. Structuring human society is not through ownership, not age, not nationality, not even on religious, but on the grounds of social interest. In fact, society is divided into social groups, depending on the relation to a particular issue, a particular problem. As in Facebook or in the "Classmates", that's why they are so successful.
But if social groups formed on the basis of mutual interests, mutual respect and trust, then our architectural solutions and multifunctional complexes should at least comply with the same principles. If people have a desire to live close to those with whom they want to communicate and speak the same language of the public interest, then there should not be anything that would be socially stratifying them, stratified by social class, and especially their dignity.
It is in this regard we held to date, the first experience of the new format of architecture - the project "Novopecherskie Lipki." How is it shown? Inside the complex there is no division into more expensive and cheaper housing. There are no outward signs of high cost in the form of ridiculous turrets and other architectural attributes of "property-rich". There is no feeling of embarrassment for a person as if he got into "ghetto for the elite," where he was not welcome. On the contrary, he feels that he is in a familiar friendly environment - and it should be that way. It has everything you need for a quality and dignified life: sports fields, a pleasant place to relax, modern schools and cycle paths, cozy cafes and many shops. And all this without vulgar stylization "antique" or a copy of "European interest". Perhaps, in Kyiv there will be a sports ground and better and more expensive restaurants, but “Novopecherskie Lipki” all exist in a single complex.
And our concept evolves over time, new infrastructure elements. There are already opened two schools, built an outdoor swimming pool. Our other project - "Boulevard of Fountains" - implements an entirely different concept of "Urban Resort". This is an innovative model of self-organization and the development of urban community based on common set of modern infrastructure, by analogy with the best resort. Any group of people will be able to find a place for the realization of their interests in this residential complex.
There are planned areas for mothers with children, elderly people, young people. Everyone will be interesting here. Moreover, moving from one group to another within the territory of the complex, they will feel completely comfortable. Thus, the basis of our "Architecture Benefits" strategy is based on a philosophical understanding of the dynamics of continuity and development of society and its growing demand for self-realization, the pursuit of success and public recognition. Design solutions that we offer are based on the most advanced technologies, so they will operate successfully for many years, decades, and perhaps several generations.
Ideally, we need to create what will be proud of our children. We would like to formats that we have proposed, set new standards of comfort and organization of the urban environment. To our ideas we awakened the creative potential of young (and not only on age) ambitious architects and soon we had two - three - ten alternative development plans of Kyiv. Together we will create a decent city with a high quality of life, a city without slums and backyard, a beautiful and safe. We will be glad if “Novopecherskie Lipki” will be the same center of attraction for the people of Kyiv, as the Khreshchatyk is.
We hope that our projects will challenge the city government and other developers in each area will be its new centers of innovation development. Today, the role of architecture is particularly important. Innovative projects designed to show ourselves and the world the creative, the creative potential of the new Ukraine. We all need to strive to achieve a bright success, to overcome the depressed state of the economy and society. We live in a difficult time of economic and political crises, breaking the old models of organization of public life. Insecurity has a negative impact on long-term investment, the real estate market is losing mass market, becoming more competitive.