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New European Bauhaus Prizes 2024

Prioritising the places and people that need it the most

Community reBuilding
Community reBuilding
In the midst of challenges brought by the war, we believe in the resilience of Ukraine's communities. Our project is focused on empowering communities to rebuild, reconnect, and flourish. The program includes 10 sub-grants, each with co-financing from the community. Money and expertise are invested in physically creating or rejuvenating Community-Building Centers and launching enriching activities within these hubs, that will breathe life into existing facilities and will be fully accessible.
EU Member State, Western Balkans or Ukraine
Mainly urban
It refers to a physical transformation of the built environment (hard investment)
Prototype level
As a representative of an organisation

Our project is a small grants program that will increase interaction between local people and their authorities, to take ownership of the rebuilding projects, ensure transparency and collective efforts, as the key elements of an effective reconstruction.

The key components include the allocation of 10 sub-grants, each with at least 20% co-financing, to the selected projects in Ukrainian local communities. These grants support the creation or renovation of physically accessible spaces known as Community Building Centers (CBCs) and the launch of CBC program activities. These will serve as hubs for community integration, participation, social and economic cohesion, and access to services and support programs. Additionally, the project provides mentorship and educational opportunities through workshops, peer-to-peer learning, and a program of events.

Target audience:
- Local authorities and public sector employees.
- Local NGOs.
- Veterans, internally displaced persons, youth, parents with small children, people with disabilities, and the elderly.
- Activists and grassroots community members.
- Architects, social and cultural actors.

Expected outputs:
- Development of 10 CBCs in different municipalities.
- Capacity-building in community development and placemaking through mentorship.
- Events to facilitate knowledge sharing.
- Six educational online workshops.
- Dissemination of project results.

The impact of the project will increase:
- Capacity of local authorities and civil society organizations to work with communities, engage with citizens, and implement projects;
- Trust, inclusion and social cohesion in hromadas between social groups
- Level of community consolidation, citizen engagement and public participation in the recovery processes and local development;
- Public awareness of the importance of a community-based approach, accessible public spaces, sustainability, inclusion and social cohesion.
capacity building
First and foremost, our project champions the reuse of existing community resources. Nine out of ten sub-projects are being implemented within pre-existing facilities, giving them new or additional functions instead of constructing entirely new infrastructure. For example, in the village of Yamne, an abandoned club building is being transformed into a versatile space for gatherings, film screenings, and even featuring a roller rink. We also encourage the use of available materials for repairs, restoration of furniture when possible, and sourcing goods and services from local suppliers. Project participants are also focused on energy efficiency in their renovation planning.

In one of the sub-projects, a community building center is created using traditional wattle and daub construction techniques with readily available natural resources, such as clay. The project team also takes into account the local ecosystem, consulting with ornithologists to create a nesting site for storks. This project could serve as a model for other communities.

Considering the social aspect, the creation of communities around these spaces or the support of existing communities contributes to the sustainability of these communities as a whole. Networking enhances their capacity to address challenges and develop. Among the sub-projects are those where existing communities, such as youth, the elderly, and veterans, have expressed a need for a comfortable physical space for interaction.

A key to sustainability is the project's encouragement of collaboration between civil society organizations and local government bodies. Local government bodies can manage municipal property, while civil society organizations bring innovation to these spaces, giving them new life. Sub-projects are implemented in partnership between civil society organizations and local government bodies, ensuring sustainability and promoting democracy through cooperation and increasing the role of civil society.
Ukrainian communities often bear the burden of neglected and unattractive infrastructure. Remnants of the Soviet cultural infrastructure, originally designed for different population sizes, persist in many communities. This network of institutions, such as cultural centers and other buildings, has fallen into disrepair due to a lack of resources, becoming a source of community unattractiveness.

Our project is geared towards reimagining this infrastructure, both in terms of its physical appearance and its purpose.
Physical renewal stands as one of the pillars of this project because we believe that well-designed physical spaces can have a profound impact on people's lives, so inclusivity and aesthetics are key considerations. Effective zoning can encourage dialogue, while the right choice of colors and materials can foster interaction and creativity. We are working to make these buildings look contemporary from the inside at the very least, making the space inviting for all. Mentor architects help participants rethink their approaches to space aesthetics, guiding them toward better solutions and utilizing a community-based approach to aesthetics and design.

The programmatic aspect of the project, where community building centers are created, involves careful consideration of event content. It's not about imposing culture from above with typical programs but adopting an individualized approach for each project. Communities can and should fulfil their own cultural needs, thereby moving away from practices of top-down ideological indoctrination of Soviet cultural policy. By exploring themselves, their needs, and their achievements, communities gain a better understanding of themselves. We encourage participants in this direction, especially through program mentors.

Our project is about empowering communities to take control of their own (cultural) expression and revitalizing their spaces to become more vibrant and inviting, reflective of the people they serve.
Our project is fundamentally rooted in a dual concept of inclusivity, encompassing both physical and social dimensions, a perspective that carries exceptional importance given the context of armed conflict. One of the selection criteria for sub-project applications was the presence of these two accessibility components. The future community building centers were expected to either be accessible to all residents or have a clear commitment to achieving such accessibility. Projects solely targeting one social group or neglecting physical accessibility did not make it to the final ten.

The spaces of the sub-projects are not currently physically accessible for everybody. Our intervention is designed to stimulate them to become so. With the guidance of mentors, participants are discovering the world of barrier-free environments, aiming to be friendly to people with limited mobility, incorporating features like ramps, proper restrooms, door widths, and other aspects of physical accessibility.

The aspect of social inclusion is equally significant. Thus, future community-building centers must be welcoming to various social groups, including parents with children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and more. We encourage the consideration of these factors in program content, taking into account the needs of the residents and involving them in co-creating event content.

We also engage in educational activities throughout the project about specific vulnerable groups. For instance, during an initial workshop, we had a separate conversation about veterans and interaction with them. One of the sub-projects spaces is designed for veterans and their families. We are also developing a public education program aimed at raising awareness of crucial aspects related to community-building centers, including accessibility.

We are ensuring a holistic approach to help facilitate inclusion within these spaces.
We, as the project implementer, represent a civil organization. Within this project, our interaction involves collaboration with local NGOs, providing them with grant support. 300 applications received indicate significant interest in the concept of community-building centers.
We avoid imposing top-down concepts, striving to work with those communities that already express their need for the creation or support of public centers. There are several examples of justifications from specific NGOs:

- The ‘Basis of Ukraine’ NGO indicated that the existing community space has limited capabilities and does not satisfy all citizens. The creation of a new space will meet the high demand among locals.
- The ‘RAIZ+’ NGO emphasized the social need for a space for the integration of the population that arrived due to internal migration. They pointed out the importance of creating a center for social integration and psychoemotional relief, especially for children.
- The ‘VATRA-2015’ NGO advocated for expanding the concept of a ‘Borderless Community’ and emphasized that such centers should exist not only in administrative centers but also in small settlements for even development.
- The ‘Misto N’ NGO conducted research and identified the need for a place where veterans can receive comprehensive support. The existence of such a center will contribute to providing them with quality legal, and career assistance, as well as psychosocial support for them and their families.

Furthermore, project participants actively involve the local community in the creation of centers by organizing community work and strategic sessions.

In addition, we organize seminars as part of a public online program to allow other organizations to learn about important aspects of creating and managing community centers. The participation of over 100 guests in the first seminar attests to the relevance of this activity.
At the international level, we have a partner, the Western NIS Enterprise Fund, which provides funding for the project and sets its key parameters while allowing flexibility within certain limits. The beneficiary of this international technical assistance is the Ministry of Economy. This assistance aims at the development of the country and its economy, including local development, which is essential, especially in the context of the ongoing decentralization reform.

Cedos is a national-level stakeholder. In its activities, we coordinate with ministries such as the Ministry of Development of Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Social Policy, as well as the Ministry of Education and Science.

Mentors involved in the project are also national-level experts. Working in various cities across Ukraine, they are eager to share their experiences with small communities in need.

The public educational online program is accessible to anyone interested in its topics, and we see the demand for it at the national level.

We prioritized supporting communities with populations of up to 100,000 individuals who are most in need of this assistance. Representatives from such communities are local-level stakeholders. They also create networks among themselves. Here, we also see the tripartite cooperation within the community among the local authorities, civil society organizations, and community institutions (libraries, cultural centers, etc.).

Among our participants, we see examples of regional collaboration. For instance, in Chortkiv and in Cherneshchyna sub-projects became possible through collaboration between these community and civil society organizations from other regions.
The design and implementation of our project involves a synergy of various disciplines and knowledge fields, bringing together expertise from architecture, local development, education, cultural studies, sociology, and management. The project comprises two interconnected components: the architectural and the programmatic, designed to complement each other. Financial resources are distributed to support both the architectural and programmatic aspects of the project.

Future community-building centers themselves are diverse, ranging from cultural institutions to educational and veteran-oriented spaces.

The Public program plays a crucial role in aligning these diverse disciplines. In addition, our mentors, having different experiences in management, culture, cinema, strategy, architecture and urbanism, sociology, education, serve as pairs – one focusing on architecture and the other on program development – play a pivotal role in guiding the participants through the intricacies of both components. This collaborative approach ensures that participants gain comprehensive knowledge and skills necessary for the successful establishment and operation of community spaces.

The diversity of expertise was also reflected in the composition of the project's jury. Experts from urbanism, sociology, decentralization, architecture, management evaluated the proposals and articulated vectors of the possible knowledge gaps that should be fulfilled during the implementation of 10 sub-projects.

The interaction between representatives of these different fields brings added value to the project in several ways, addressing the unique challenges and requirements of each community, creating spaces that are not only functional but also culturally and socially relevant.
The core idea of community-oriented centers is a novel approach in Ukraine. Communities play a crucial role in the resilience of local societies, necessitating their formation and support.

The project's holistic approach, combining physical and programmatic upgrades of community centers, is groundbreaking. This approach not only draws the attention of local residents but also fosters the center's function of community formation, support, and interaction. Unlike traditional renovation projects that focus solely on the physical aspect, this approach enriches the cultural, educational, and experiential aspects of the space, enhancing user experiences. Simultaneously, it addresses the interplay between the physical environment and the dynamic activities within such spaces, contributing to their overall aesthetic and functionality.

Another innovative element is the project's emphasis on inclusivity as a mandatory standard, which is often overlooked in regular renovation projects. Current renovations usually neglect the needs of mobility-impaired individuals, and the innovative component here lies in the project's commitment to enhancing inclusivity for these vulnerable groups.

The mentorship provided to sub-grant recipients represents an essential innovative component. It goes beyond financial support, showcasing best practices and expanding the realm of possibilities, thus promoting innovation in project execution.

The project introduces innovation through its preliminary workshop for organizational representatives and communities before commencing the implementation of the winning projects. This innovative approach allows participants to get acquainted with mentors and the project team, and provides an opportunity to refine their project ideas. Participants have acknowledged the benefits of this approach, appreciating the flexibility to reflect, exchange experiences, and make improvements to their projects, which ultimately strengthened their ideas.
The methodology and approach consist of the following components:
1. Preparation of the announcement and application forms for communities.
2. Open call. Dissemination of the announcement through websites, social media. Information session.
3. Technical review of the applications on whether all the questions were answered. Announcement of preliminary results to applicants.
4. Evaluation by the jury according to the criteria and formation of the longlist. Shortlist formation for invitation to talks according to the geographical and substantive diversity of projects, as well as their physical and social inclusiveness.
5. Conducting conversations in video call format with shortlisted applicants. Inspection of applicant community municipalities on the integrity issues. Selection of 10 winners and announcement of results.
6. The offline 3-day workshop for 10 sub-grantees (2 people per community, where 1 is a representative of an NGO, 1 a representative from local authorities) + 10 mentors + staff members and experts. The workshop consists of horizontal and vertical formats: 1) inspiring inputs from experts, 2) excursions, 3) initial group work with mentors. The workshop gives participants the opportunity to get to know each other, mentors and the team; learn more about each other's sub-projects, begin to rethink and strengthen the submitted sub-projects, understand the concept of ‘community’ and its importance for Ukrainian cities and villages.
7. Mentoring teams working with 2 communities each. The team consists of an expert in social sciences, culture and communications and an architect. Both mentors visit each of the 2 communities twice.
8. Public program: 6 online workshops with presentations of experience of community-building and public space development from Ukraine.
9. Final offline meeting for 2 days with the public conference to present and reflect on project results.
Our approach can be replicable on several levels:

National Level:
The funding model for community-building centers in communities that need it can be applied at the national level. This could involve local development investment projects where funds are allocated for spatial renovations (to enhance inclusivity and aesthetics) and expert support to strengthen capacity. This support includes training, mentorship, and program development for the future center.

Local Community Level:
Local communities can adopt the model of renovating specific centers with the involvement of mentors and educational support. The concept of renovation itself can be disseminated, emphasizing the transformation of old buildings into new community-building centers that may serve various sub-functions depending on the needs of local communities.

Individual Sub-Project Replication: Various individual sub-projects by our participants can serve as models for replication in other communities, including:
- Transforming a library into an interactive space (as exemplified in Ovruch).
- Expanding the capabilities of existing spaces by creating an inclusive modular structure in an open area near a community center, potentially involving the removal of hazardous structures (as seen in Chortkiv).
- Using traditional construction technologies (as demonstrated in Cherneshchyna, where the community-building center is a thatched cottage).
- Establishing a multifunctional space for veterans (as exemplified in Nizhyn).
- Creating a roller rink in a village by repurposing an abandoned club building (as seen in Yamne).
The first global challenge our project helps tackle is the reduction in face-to-face interaction resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. We have witnessed a decrease in physical spaces for interaction, leading to a new habit of online communication. Social media, a significant part of online communication, often leads to the formation of echo chambers, contributing to societal fragmentation, and posing a global challenge to democracy. Friction arises between different social groups, causing division in society. Creating local spaces for in-person communication among people from different social strata and diverse viewpoints can foster understanding and unity, raising the level of tolerance in society. This, in turn, positively impacts community development, economy, social cohesion, and interaction, often serving as a stimulus for co-creation.

The second challenge pertains to migration and the concept of inclusiveness, which involves engaging internally displaced persons (IDPs) in interaction within such spaces or encouraging them to establish these spaces. Many of the supported sub-projects aim to involve IDPs, promoting social cohesion. Often, IDPs represent an underutilized social capital, and opportunities to engage them in active community life can unlock their potential and facilitate their integration. We also have an excellent example among the sub-projects where IDPs from another community initiated the creation of a community center, with the intention of integrating and contributing to the community they relocated to, becoming active residents.

Another global challenge is the environmental sustainability effort, which our project addresses through space and material reuse, the utilization of energy-efficient technologies, and collaboration with local suppliers. Additionally, community centers enhance self-reliance and resilience, crucial in the face of global challenges such as pandemics, natural disasters, or conflicts.
Currently, the project is in the implementation stage, and in the coming year, we plan to take the following steps:

Continue expert support and funding for 10 participating organizations. Our goal is to ensure that each of them achieves the desired outcomes, completing renovations, launching spaces, initiating program activities, and attracting visitors and events. During this time, we aim to provide participants with knowledge in communication, accessibility, sustainable development, culture, education etc. This equips the teams with development plans and the capability to sustain activities in the created spaces beyond our funding period. Throughout this period, we also plan to facilitate community exchange by organizing online meetings where all grantees can share progress, successes, and challenges.

After the launch of spaces and the completion of funding: We will organize an offline conference to showcase the experience of creating community-building centers. This will facilitate the exchange of best practices and document changes since the project's inception.

During the year after the completion of this wave of projects: Approximately six months later, we plan to conduct a study on how these spaces function without our support and the changes that have occurred in the community due to their presence. This evaluation is crucial for implementing similar initiatives in the future.

Initiate the next round: We also intend to launch the next round, the second wave of this project, with an improved methodology based on the experience gained.