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A Vision to Build a City of Refugees in Ukraine

A Kyiv-based architect’s system for creating temporary settlements for displaced people was informed by his own refugee experience. 

A rendering of Balbek Studio’s refugee housing proposal, which emphasizes creating a village-like atmosphere.

A rendering of Balbek Studio’s refugee housing proposal, which emphasizes creating a village-like atmosphere.

Source: Balbek Bureau

While war continues to rage in Ukraine, architects and planners have already started to think about what will happen when the fighting stops. Cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol have been heavily damaged; homes, businesses and essential infrastructure throughout the country are in unusable condition after more than two months of Russian shelling. But millions of displaced Ukrainians — whose numbers have strained cities in neighboring countries like Poland — are desperate to return to their old homes as soon as possible. 

With its eye on this mammoth task to come, Kyiv-based architecture studio Balbek Bureau has developed a blueprint for refugee housing designed to shelter people swiftly and at low cost — and in a way that restores some of the community that they’ve lost.