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BAUA architects

Baltic Architects Unions Association withdraws from UIA over Ukraine war

The association for architects from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania has withdrawn from the International Union of Architects as it has not suspended the memberships of Russia and Belarus after the invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, Baltic Architects Unions Association (BAUA) said: "The BAUA does not consider possible being a member of an organization that still has not suspended the membership or limited activities of the national architectural associations of Russia and Belarus."

"As architects and urban designers, we find it impossible to sit around the same table with people who represent a country responsible for bombing civilian objects and destroying entire cities," it added.

BAUA still "member of an outdated structure"

It said that BAUA also has to interact more with Belarus and Russia than other International Union of Architects (UIA) members due to the structure of the organisation.

"By the way, we are forced to do it [sit around the same table] more than other members of UIA, as BAUA is still subjected to be a member of an outdated structure – UIA Region 2, that was created with respect to the borders of former USSR," BAUA said.

The withdrawal was based on decisions by the Council of the Estonian Association of Architects, the Council of the Latvian Association of Architects and the General Assembly of the Lithuanian Association of Architects and announced yesterday during the UIA General Assembly in Copenhagen.

BAUA supports Ukrainian architects' demand of suspension for Russia

The National Union of Architects of Ukraine had demanded that Russia's membership of the UIA be suspended after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, and BAUA said it had made several similar appeals to the organisation.

BAUA also released a statement condemning the invasion in February 2022.

In 2022, BAUA and the Nordic section of architects submitted a motion to the general assembly of the UIA.

This asked that the UIA limit the activities of Russian and Belarusian architects unions at the organisation until their representatives would attest that they stand by the UIA preamble, adopted in Cairo, 1985, in writing.

This reads: "The Preamble can have meaning only in a world with peace among nations. The greatest obligation of governments in relation to humanity is the preservation of peace as the basis for realizing the needs and ambitions of people throughout the world. Governments should stop production for war and use their resources for improvement of conditions for all humanity."

The majority of the UIA delegates did not support the motion and "the Russian and Belorussian Unions of Architects have not condemned the war so far," BAUA said.

Support will continue "through various other collaborations" 

As the UIA has not suspended the membership or limited the activities of the Russian and Belorussian architects associations, the BAUA is now withdrawing its membership.

"We will continue to help Ukrainian colleagues architects and citizens and show our support through various other collaborations – international and direct ones. Slava Ukraini!" said BAUA president Juris Poga (Latvia), BAUA vice president Ruta Leitanaite (Lithuania) and BAUA, Estonian Association of Architects president Andro Mänd (Estonia).

BAUA was founded in 1990 and admitted to the UIA in 1993.

The war in Ukraine, which began on 24 February 2022, has entered its second year. Dezeen spoke to architects and designers in the country who are working to rebuild their homeland.

British architect Norman Foster has also unveiled details of the masterplan to redevelop the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

The main image is courtesy of BAUA and shows (l-r) BAUA president Poga and vice president Leitanaite with Karl Pops, the author of the pavilion, Estonia, at the opening of the BAUA pavilion 2023 in Copenhagen. Photo by Kairi Rand.