independent school for the city

Panorama Ukraine with Floris Alkemade & Lesia Topolnyk

A duo lecture by Floris Alkemade & Lesia Topolnyk about the reconstruction of Ukraine. Taking place on the 3rd of May from 18:30 - 20:30. In collaboration with the Ukraine-the Netherlands Urban Network. 

On the 3rd of May, the Independent School for the City and the UNUN network organised an evening with Floris Alkemade and Lesia Topolnyk about the reconstruction of Ukraine, the complexity of the situation as well as the power of imagination and the need for a collective longing. 

We started the evening with a talk by Lesia Topolnyk about the transforming roles of the designers in times of multilayered crises and perpetual instability within Ukrainian but also in the international context. On the example of her Prix de Rome project No Innocent Landscape about the mining village of Hrabove in the East of Ukraine, Lesia will show how through dialogue with different disciplines and mediums, spatial design becomes a language that gives shape to the crucial interaction of visible and invisible processes while bringing together global and local concerns. Hrabove is the place where MH17 was shot and is the node of different interconnected forces. Illegal mining, environmental catastrophe, human right violation and war, to name a few, have spatial presence here.

Afterwards, Floris Alkemade continued with a talk about the power and impotence of planners in times of disruption. The feeling of absurdity strikes when a brutal and cruel reality overrules planning. In a context where meaning, reason and order vanish, it inevitable leads to the conclusion that our master plans lose their power to master whatever form of reality. In order to regain control, we need to develop a different design language. In this process, the power of imagination can become a crucial force only when it’s capable to imagine and thus generate a new and collective longing for a well pictured positive change. 

About Lesia Topolnyk
Lesia Topolnyk was born in Ukraine and educated as an architect in different countries. She explores how different realities and perspectives superimpose in human behaviour and are manifested in physical space. Operating across architecture, politics and art, she founded StudioSpaceStation to respond to the urgent societal and planetary issues. Lesia received the Prix de Rome for the project No Innocent Landscape and Archiprix National and International for the project Un-United Headquarters on the Crimean peninsula.

About Floris Alkemade
Floris Alkemade is an architect and urban designer. Before founding his own design agency FAA and later also BAU+, operating from Sint-Oedenrode, Brussels and Paris, he worked with Rem Koolhaas for eighteen years and was one of six partners of Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Alkemade's architecture and urban planning is firmly anchored in the landscape and urban structure. He works on complex projects at both national and international level. He stands out for his attention to infrastructure and logistics. Themes such as repurposing and urban development are also an important part of his work. From 2015 to 2021 he held the position of Chief Government Architect, linking this design background to a strong social agenda. In addition to the power of market and political thinking, he sees a great responsibility for design and imagination. Alkemade combines his work as an architect and urban designer with teaching and lectures and he is a member of various professional juries. 


18:30    Welcome by Mike Emmerik (Independent School for the City)
18:45    Talk by Lesia Topolnyk “No Innocent Landscape”
19:20    Talk by Floris Alkemade “Panorama Ukraine” 
19:55    Conversation with Lesia Topolnyk, Floris Alkemade and the audience. Moderated by Oleksandra Tkachenko 
20:30    Closing by Mike Emmerik

20:30    Drinks at the bar.