War damage in Ukraine

Russian architects condemn Ukraine invasion in open letter

More than 6,500 Russian architects, designers and urban planners have signed an open letter to condemn the invasion of Ukraine and "demand the immediate end of violent war".

The letter, published online by architectural magazine Project Russia, decries Russia's ongoing attack on Ukraine that began in the early hours of 24 February.

"We, the architects and urban planners of Russia, consider the invasion of Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine unacceptable," the letter states.

"Political issues must be resolved exclusively by peaceful means! War cannot be an instrument of politics in the 21st century."

Conflict devalues "the activity of an architect"

While the author of the letter is unknown, it was shared with Dezeen by Russian architect and signatory Ekaterina Ulitina. At the time of writing, it has 6,586 signatures.

Ulitina, who practices in Stockholm, told Dezeen that the majority of architects who have signed it currently reside in cities around Russia.

However, the letter notes that "the war devalues the very essence of the activity of an architect and urban planner, no matter what country they are in".

"It violates the people's right to life, security, fulfillment, a comfortable and healthy environment - all the values that lie in the core of our profession," the letter reads.

"Neighbors' respect cannot be won by force or destruction. It can be earnt by ameliorating your own country, your own home. No to war!"

Role of architecture brought "into sharp relief"

Since Russian forces began the devastating military operations last week, creatives in Ukraine have been forced to close their studios, suspend projects and flee.

The open letter is the latest show of solidarity with the country from members of the international architecture and design community in the wake of the invasion.

Today, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) also published a statement saying that the conflict has brought the role of architecture "into sharp relief".

"Our thoughts are with all those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has exposed the horrific effects of conflict on communities, and put the role that architecture plays in building resilient, collaborative and inclusive societies into sharp relief," RIBA stated.

The institute added that it is now "examining the implications for architects working from or seeking work within impacted areas".

"In the first instance, we recommend those directly affected keep up to date with the latest UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice, and professionals consult the UK Government’s Business Support helpline to ensure they are aware of the potential risks and challenges of working in this environment," the statement continues.

MVRDV suspends all Russian projects

Yesterday, Dutch studio MVRDV announced that it has suspended its work on all of its projects in Russia following the country's invasion of Ukraine. Work on its two Ukrainian projects has also halted directly due to the conflict itself.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Architects of Ukraine called upon the International Union of Architects to expel the Union of Architects of Russia from the organisation.

"Those who do not condemn Russia's actions support them," said the organisation's president Oleksandr Chyzhevsky in a statement.

Elsewhere, fashion designer Giorgio Armani held his latest catwalk show in silence, while cultural institution V-A-C Foundation said it "cannot turn a blind eye to the tragic events" and was suspending programs at its Renzo Piano-designed building in Moscow.

The photo is by Palinchak courtesy of the Say No to War image collection.