Ukrainian activists have saved a modernist landmark in central Kyiv that had been earmarked for destruction by developers.
Demolition began on the Flowers of Ukraine building on Monday 12 July, with bulldozers tearing down the building’s atrium. Activists stormed the site just hours later, blocking construction vehicles and announcing an around-the-clock occupation.
Less than 24 hours later, officials ordered the demolition to a halt. Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture has since ordered an investigation into the company behind the work, announcing that developers had not been given permission to carry out construction work in Kyiv’s protected “historic area”.
Erected between 1980 and 1985 by architect Mykola Levchuk, the Flowers of Ukraine building was designed to host both a flower market and a floristry school. The building was noted by architects for its terraced facade covered in grapevine leaves, and its large windows illuminating the atrium.
For the past two decades, the building had been leased to small businesses, until it was acquired by a real estate developer called PrJSC Flowers of Ukraine. The company announced plans to raze the site to build a co-working space, sparking the ire of conservationists.
The decision prompted the “Save Flowers of Ukraine” campaign, whose members petitioned the Ministry of Culture to protect the building as a heritage site. But despite the involvement of prominent cultural figures — including Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko, who wrote an impassioned Facebook post for the building’s preservation — previous attempts to save the structure had been unsuccessful.
“We will return to round-the-clock surveillance if the problem escalates,” the activist group wrote on Instagram. “But now our fight is moving to the legal plane.”