The graduates of Lviv Polytechnic are among the winners of the competition for the best public space project in memory of Yevhen Konovalts

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The creative team of the architectural studio Replus Bureau, led by Dmytro Sorokevych, a graduate of the Institute of Architecture and Design, won the competition which lasted for two months. The team consists of Pavlo Kovach, Anton Bozhko, Liana Mytsko, Marta Yavna, Ivan Markovych, Vitaliia Pavlyshyn, and Nadiia Vovk. Most of the team members are graduates of our university.

Two days after the results announcement, the project has gained real publicity and has already faced criticism over the fact that the memory space of Yevhen Konovalets will be without an actual monument to Yevhen Konovalets. Let’s try to find out the main idea of the project and where Yevhen Konovalets is.

The space will be arranged on the square in front of the first academic building of Lviv Polytechnic. It has two reasons. The first is the location of the monument directly on the territory of the educational institution, which is a symbol of the fact that the first military unions under the leadership of Yevhen Konovalets consisted of students. And the second reason is that the space will be opposite Yevhen Konovalets Street, where on the corner of the building of the seventh academic building there is a bas-relief and a commemorative annotation board in memory of one of the ideologues of Ukrainian nationalism, in honour of whom the street is named.

As for the space itself, its key element will be the open armory – a symbol of the fact that our struggle continues, and the call to everyone to take up their weapons is more relevant than ever. The material for the monument will be remelted scrap of Russian vehicles and equipment destroyed in battles on the territory of Ukraine. The armory features the saying of Yevhen Konovalets: «Iron melts into steel in a fire, a people is transformed into a Nation in a struggle».

Why exactly this vision of space? As the creative team of Replus Bureau explains, the fight for independence is not the work of one person. As a hundred years ago, in the 21st century, Ukrainians are forced to arm themselves and continue the struggle for their freedom. Weapon was and is a key tool for justice, then and now.

«In this project, our team set a goal to find and display the image of Yevhen Konovalets through the interpretation of his influence and contribution to the national resistance. In peacetime, weapons are stored in arsenals, armories, and closets. During the war, all armories are empty. An empty cabinet for storing weapons is the main metaphorical image of the project. Its geometry and ergonomics have remained unchanged for decades, the functionality of the armory is defined and utilitarian. The closet, in which there are no weapons, symbolizes the active phase of the war, the continuation of the existential struggle which we are still carrying on. The closet is empty, but its weapons, together with our people, are working on the defense of our Independence», emphasize the creators of the project.

Another important association that is evoked by the image of an empty armory is the catastrophic problem with the supply of weapons that Ukraine faces in this war. In metaphorical space, the matrix has no end, so the number of cabinets is unknown, just as the number of required weapons and the number of people who will use them are unknown as well. Two vertical walls, made of armory cabinets, will form a narrow passage between them – a symbol of the difficult path of a moral choice of everyone who passes through the arsenal.

Well, but where is Yevhen Konovalets himself? As the head of Replus Bureau, Dmytro Sorokevych explains that the concept involves conveying the image of Konovalets through his contribution to the struggle, which became his life’s work.

We heard the recommendation of the competition jury and project initiators regarding more literal representation of the figure of Yevhen Konovalets, and we will work with the team on the implementation of this idea in the further stages of work on the project. There is also a discussion about the quote we propose to put on the wall of the armory. We will work with historians on this issue. If the quote turns out not to be his, we will take it away or replace it with another one, the one which Konovalets did say.

– What will you improve to convey the image of Yevhen Konovalets?

– We will work on certain nuances that will strengthen the idea of fighting and ideology of the leader. To do this, we will gather as a team, work it out, and present it to the jury for discussion. Perhaph the virtual image of Konovalets may appear in a certain performance.

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