And Greece in ProjectSafeRefuge

About two weeks have passed since the war sirens first sounded in Ukraine, when a group of architects from around the world began to “shape” the idea of ​​an initiative that would find solutions to housing refugees arriving from the war zone in Poland. In early March 2022, Kika Zdiarska, an architect from Poland and a graduate student in the Netherlands, started contacting her old colleagues and fellow students trying to help those refugees who were arriving en masse in Poland and looking for a temporary shelter. A few days later, more than 30 young women architects from Poland, Greece, Japan, Brazil and other countries had decided to create ProjectSafeRefuge, their own initiative, which aims to provide answers to the current refugee crisis. Long online meetings of people, of different nationalities with distinct cultures united only by architecture but also by the need to show their solidarity, followed one another with the common goal of housing refugees in cities with the logic of integration into the daily life of cities , and not of their ghettoization in areas far from the urban centers.
The main objectives of the project, on which the respective groups that have been established are working, are: the creation of transitional housing units through the redesign of existing mobile unit designs based on the needs of refugees, the reuse of abandoned or degraded buildings (adaptive reuse ) located in the cities where refugees arrive, and their transformation into sustainable housing areas, and finally the holding of educational activities and seminars for Ukrainian students and also young architects from Ukraine with the aim of training them to contribute to the reconstruction of the country when the war is over.
As the 29-year-old architect, Dimitris Lambriadis, who is one of the participants in ProjectSafeRefuge, explains to the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency, their initiative “takes flesh and blood from our shared love of architecture, sustainability and the need to find decent solutions to the problems created by war. Each member brings to the team valuable experiences and knowledge that give value to its purpose”, adding that “the design and construction of the housing units is based on the understanding of the social and cultural characteristics of the refugees, as well as the logic of their participation in everyday life of cities”. Observing daily the needs that have arisen, in the foreground of the members has entered transitional housing, which will focus on the needs, requirements and limitations of the climate of Ukraine.
According to Polish architect Kasia Andosik, who lives in the Netherlands, the aim is to create a transitional housing unit that could be used in the host countries and then transported to Ukraine so that it can act as temporary housing while the country rebuilt after the war. “We try to propose solutions that are long-term, semi-permanent or permanent for the integration of refugees in safe and healthy neighborhoods instead of creating ghettos or camps as we have seen from previous situations”, points out, for her part, Kika Zdiarska.
In this initiative, the refugees will have an active role as they will be the ones who will give the information and details to the volunteers about how they would like the house where they will temporarily stay to be. “We will try to gather data and information, through polls, field research, interviews and workshops, in order to understand the needs and living conditions of the refugees. Based on this data we will design a small living unit that will be used by the refugees in Poland and then by transferring it to Ukraine, it will be able to be a temporary housing unit while the Ukrainian cities are being rebuilt. Wanting to act quickly and efficiently, we are looking at existing solutions that we can improve and adapt to the needs of the current crisis”, Mr. Lambriadis says characteristically to APE-MPE. At the same time, abandoned buildings that will be reused in refugee host cities will be transformed into sustainable housing sites under the remote support and guidance of the ProjectSafeRefuge team. “We offer assistance from our team of volunteers to architects in local communities. Together we can review design solutions to propose projects for safe, healthy and sustainable neighborhoods”, explains Mr. Lambriadis.
For more than 10 hours every week the volunteers meet online evaluating their steps so far and planning the next ones. They do not only seek to find solutions to the housing issue, but also wish to exchange know-how with their colleagues from Ukraine. Responding to a call received from members of the Student Community of Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, ProjectSafeRefuge, in collaboration with the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology student union, will support the creation of a one-semester online course curriculum that addressed to young Ukrainian architects. “Young architects from Ukraine are in great need of specialized seminars related to the peacetime reconstruction of their country. The purpose of the seminar is to help young architects from Ukraine to develop their knowledge and skills on the reconstruction of damaged buildings. As an introduction to the project, we also invite students from the international community to prepare presentations on historical case studies of urban reconstruction, which will be presented during an online event with students from Ukraine,” Mr. Lambriadis emphasizes to APE-MPE.
In the four months that the initiative has already been running, volunteers have heard dozens of stories of people who saw their homes destroyed, who were hunted and expelled from their homeland, taking little of their possessions and leaving years of hard work behind to save themselves. These personal testimonies were enough for them to decide to support them in practice through ProjectSafeRefuge. “We want to support them in their reconstruction process and show them our solidarity,” notes Ms. Zdiarska. It is noted that the volunteers have launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of the project with the support and funding of Delft University in the Netherlands (TU Delft).
More information can be found at the following links: