Art Nouveau and Modernist Ukrainian Architecture at Risk

In Kharkov, the cradle of Ukrainian Art Nouveau, the unique building of the Art School, built in 1912 by the project of the architect Zhukov, has survived to this day. Its first director was Repin’s student, Alexander Lyubimov. image source:

Art Nouveau Ukrainian Architecture in a Global Context


The article is dedicated to Ukrainian Art Nouveau architecture, which became a unique phenomenon in the development of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century architecture. Along with the reality that architecture in Ukraine evolved as a component of the European artistic movement, a distinctive architectural style was formed, based on the development of the traditions of folk architecture and ornamentation. This style produced much innovation in the shaping, decor, and ornamentation of buildings. Significant contributions to the development of architectural modernism in Ukraine were made by Opanas Slastion, Vasyl Krychevskyi, Yevhen Serdiuk, Oleksandr Verbytskyi, Serhii Tymoshenko, Oleksandr Lushpynskyi, Ivan Levynskyi, Dmytro Diachenko, and others. Ukrainian Art Nouveau architecture was represented by five main architectural styles: modernist, folkloric, rationalist, neo-baroque, and Vienna Secession. Due to attainment of the possibilities embodied in the constructions, developed techniques, and in the design of interior space and external features — such as walls, roofs, doors and windows, columns and balustrades — this style formed its own expressive system, which included a significant number of socially significant types of buildings (dwellings, schools, hospitals, warehouses, government buildings, places of worship). The styles of Ukrainian architectural modernism have not exhausted their potential and may yet have a continuation in contemporary architecture and that of the future.

Nelia Romaniuk, Art Nouveau Ukrainian Architecture in a Global Context, No. 6 (2019): The Ukrainian Intellectual Heritage in a Global Context (2019) (ResearchGate)


Influenced and interconnected with European modernism, Ukrainian architectural modernism, a distinctive trend in architecture based on the development of the traditions of folk construction and ornamentation, was formed. At the beginning of the 20th century, Ukraine was under the authority of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, therefore, Ukrainian Art Nouveau had distinctive features on these territories.

The architecture of Western Ukraine was under the influence of the Vienna Secession, and became known as “secession.” The combination of folk art and secession was the result of the emergence of the Ukrainian Secession, which had features of Hutsul and Zakopansky folk art. In Central, Southern, and Eastern Ukraine, which were part of the Russian Empire, a national type of the modernist movement was developed— “Ukrainian Modernism,” which emerged in Poltava.

The peculiarity of Ukrainian Modernism was the creation and use not only of traditional building forms and elements of national art, but also of new architectural forms with a distinct ethnic, aesthetic component—in contrast to many European style trends, which often used elements of classicism and the baroque (as in the German style) or even avoided any traditional details, replacing them with new ones (see works by Antoni Gaudí, Viktor Horta).12

Romaniuk, Nelia. (2019). Art Nouveau Ukrainian Architecture in a Global Context. Kyiv-Mohyla Humanities Journal. 6. 137-148. 10.18523/kmhj189056.2019-6.137-148.
Source: The Odessa Review

Modernist Kharkiv: Behind The Battle To Protect Avant-Garde Architecture In Post-Maidan Ukraine

source: The Calvert Journal

Kharkiv’s Freedom Square hosts one of the largest modernist architectural ensembles in Europe, a reminder of the city’s leftist heritage. But the space was threatened this year by controversial plans for a new column. Ievgeniia Gubkina, with Owen Hatherley, explores the ongoing crisis for modern architecture in a Ukraine determined to turn its back on its Soviet past.

Read the full article on The Calvert Journal (18 July 2017)

Kharkiv: Inventory

On November 28, 2014, the forum “Kharkiv: Inventory” was held in the Center for Contemporary Art “Ermilov Center” (Kharkiv, Ukraine). It was one of the events of the series of research and educational activities dedicated to the city and its urban forms.

The main aim of the forum – is to “take stock” of Kharkiv’s modern architectural environment, namely to fix the presence of the objects of the city environment, to assess their current state, to discuss what should be recognized as the “heritage” of Kharkiv and what “has no value”, to understand how and what to do in the near future – not only within the professional community but also what ordinary citizens should do.

The forum was attended by the prominent Kharkiv architects, city planners, conservators-restorers, artists and designers: Oleg Drozdov (“Drozdov & Partners”), Valery Ponomarev (Institute Kharkivproject), Nikolay Ridnyi, Vladimir Novgorodov (Member of ICOMOS, corresponding member of the Academy of Architecture of Ukraine, member of the National Union of Architects of Ukraine and the Kharkiv Planning Council), Maria Norazyan and Ilya Pavlov (design studio “GRAFPROM”, concept designers “”), Vasilisa Shchegoleva and Bogdan Volynskiy (architects “Snizhok”, Kharkiv). Videos of presentations, discussions and interim results of the study are available at the link.

Organizers: NGO Urban Forms Center and NGO Critical Thinking (Kharkiv, Ukraine).