UKRAINE - In Ukraine, where people pay millions to spend their lives in 'historical fakes', a European-oriented architect like Oleg Drozdov is seen as an exotic exception, a miracle. Besides his contextually sensitive and socially responsible designs, Oleg is well known for his public activities and international collaborations. When founded ten years ago, Drozdov & Partners started off with interior design, now they work at an urban scale in several of the biggest Ukrainian cities, producing positive changes in physical surroundings as well as in professional circles.
Although 'already' 40+, Oleg Drozdov represents a new, promising generation of Ukrainian architects. Having started his own practice in 1997, he now heads a company of more than 40 employees. Based in Kharkov, Drozdov & Partners are deeply integrated into European processes, not only by the designs they produce, but also by continuous cooperation with architects from different European countries.
Oleg Drozdov: First of all, there is a kind of contemporary lifestyle and for this lifestyle there exists an 'envelope' which is called contemporary architecture. Secondly, contemporary architecture deals with the notion of the void, something that is located between the volumes – this is what we could call space in architecture. And finally, contemporary architecture cannot exist without living scenarios, attention to people's lives and so on. Ukraine now is an isolated island and Ukrainian architecture is one of the most internationally isolated areas of Ukrainian society. Actually, we should talk about the socio-political situation and architecture as its direct representation. We live in a post-socialist society that has reverted to feudal tendencies and values. Accordingly, the favourite architectural typology is castle-like and conservative. At the same time these projects display evident Soviet characteristics. In general we still have a very long way to go for real democracy.
[Democracy is] when most of the society realizes it has instruments to influence social processes and the living environment. Currently there are no such instruments in Ukraine. In the Ukrainian context we speak about design and construction, not architecture. The best architects or developers are those who manage to create the maximum building mass; qualitative criteria are virtually absent. This commercial approach has no relationship to architecture at all.
This is one of the tasks of contemporary architecture – to stimulate society's development, especially in Ukraine, where patterns of living are changing so rapidly. Speaking in the context of our practice, we often see examples of change, which remind us of the typical formal interview with a sportsman. He's wearing a smart suit and feels quite uneasy because he's used to being sweaty, in shorts, on the sports field. But the presence of this new shell changes him internally and makes him behave quietly and talk smoothly. He is gradually getting used to this new role. I guess that similarly, a 'contemporary architectural shell' could change society by making it more communicative, provoking a totally different type of interaction between its agents.
Architecture, Interior, Urban planning