Cities have the ability to adapt to environmental changes and the challenges of time. Usually, such transformations are inconspicuous and are defined in urban planning documentation.

However, as a result of natural disasters or in the case of wars, transformations can occur before our eyes. Such a process was observed after the Second World War.

How Ukrainian cities live during the war
Despite the ongoing war, work on the reconstruction of infrastructure facilities (including residential buildings) is also underway. In particular, in Kyiv, at the beginning of last autumn, up to three hundred high-rise buildings in need of repair were counted.

According to recent information from the KMDA, 11 out of 17 buildings characterized by the greatest damage have already been restored.

Several initiatives were implemented to solve the problem of destroyed housing. One of them is the installation of modular houses, in which thousands of Ukrainians live today.

Modular towns, as a massive but temporary solution, continue to be actively developed throughout the country.

In addition, a pilot project of the “Restore Home” program is operating in Kyiv and several other regions that were under occupation, which aims to compensate for repair work in high-rise buildings.

This is a positive initiative, but currently, the amount allocated under the program is in most cases insufficient for full house repairs.

As for the issue of destroyed housing directly in the Kyiv region (the number of which was more than 13 thousand by the middle of 2022), the “New Housing” program was launched.

For example, for 2022-2023, it is planned to buy apartments for two thousand families whose housing is not economically profitable to restore. Today, it is known about the provision of funds for the purchase of 50 apartments.

In general, a relevant law was recently adopted to establish the process of mass compensation for destroyed (damaged) property by the state.

Post-war recovery: the experience of European countries
The world regularly suffered from wars, and it was after the Second World War that many countries went through a period of revival. Cities faced the problem of reconstruction of housing, social and historical objects, industry, transport connections, green areas, etc.

The specificity of the restoration of a particular city was determined according to its historical and social significance.

In particular, the reconstruction could be based on the reproduction of the previous appearance of the urban environment. This is the principle that was used in Warsaw, where at the end of the war, the city quarters were almost completely destroyed.

The tendency to organize the urban environment according to a new plan was observed in England. Only during 1940-1941, about 2 million houses were destroyed or damaged in the country, 60% of which were in London.

As a result of the destruction, cubic meters of debris remained on the streets of the city from residential quarters.

A corresponding recovery plan was developed during the war. The document contained all the components for creating a comfortable life: economic (industrial) development, provision of housing and public spaces that would create a favorable environment for citizens.

The plan also took into account existing problems, such as smog. Its emergence was caused by the activities of enterprises. In order to solve the problem, industrial facilities were moved outside the city limits and concentrated on the development of public and green areas.

In the housing policy of London, preference was given to the construction of high-rise buildings. The decision was due to the fact that such buildings could accommodate a large number of people without expanding the city limits.

In general, in the process of recovery, different cities often faced the same problems: a lack of professional personnel in construction, a shortage of building materials, or insufficient funding.

In particular, bricks brought to the capital from other cities of the country were reused in Warsaw. And the local population additionally made donations for its reconstruction.

In London, the same process was implemented mainly by collecting reparations from Germany. Building materials came from there.

How to plan reconstruction: challenges and opportunities for Ukrainian cities
The actual regeneration of cities needs to take into account many aspects related to its organization.

In addition to the above-mentioned difficulties – lack of builders, construction materials and funding – it is worth taking into account the situation with the waste that remains from damaged/destroyed buildings.

According to experts, the landfills and/or landfills of Ukraine are not able to contain the amount of construction waste that exists, and it continues to increase almost every day.

Setting up the process of utilization of the remains of construction structures requires time and financial resources. As the experience of some countries shows, if this is not done, the problem will only get worse.

However, such a situation also provides certain opportunities. Currently, the urban environment in Ukraine mostly does not take into account the needs of people, is characterized by the disproportionality of the infrastructure and conditional division into bedrooms and business districts, which leads to pendulum migration and, accordingly, traffic jams.

The correct implementation of reconstruction can change the appearance of Ukrainian cities for the better and increase the number of objects that combine modern standards of energy saving, accessibility, innovation, etc. But for this, it is necessary to review and adapt the building regulations to European standards.

The strategy, which will be the basis of the new urban environment, is created based on the analysis of the destruction caused. And only then does the movement follow the determined course.

It is expedient for Ukraine to develop urban space using modern planning principles. However, this should be done after studying the specifics of a particular settlement in order to use the existing urban environment with the greatest benefit for people.

For example, in Kharkiv, the city council plans to change the city’s transport system and decentralize it.

Reconstruction is a process that requires transparency in housing policy, including the development of an open compensation program for destroyed/damaged property.

Tracking the results of implementation is important both for international partners who will provide financial assistance and for the local population.

Such openness will increase the chances that funds will be used as intended and reduce corruption risks.

As for the general prerequisites for development, all actions should be aimed at creating a strong rule of law state. A competitive economy will help attract investments to the country, create jobs, and bring back a larger percentage of displaced people.

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