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Mail from Kyiv

We received this unusual message on Thursday morning, 24 February: "Now Ukraine is under attack by Russia. Kyiv woke up at 5 in the morning when the Russian army started bombing suburbs and it's continuing. Now all work on the project stopped, we believe the situation will be better in the nearest future, but who knows Putin's plans.

Over the past year, we have enjoyed working on a research facility in Kyiv. Our expertise in this area proved to be a good entry point to international work with a focus on Europe. After completing the preliminary design at the end of last year, we were currently working, through a series of workshops with the client and the internal departments, on fitting the laboratory organisation and layout for the final design. Of course, the Russian threat has come up in recent months, but this was usually brushed aside by the people in Kyiv under the pretext: "there are always Russians at our border."

After the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the world looked completely different. The above message from the Ukrainian project manager is both kind and bizarre. It shows the harsh reality and makes it close. Both the project leader in Kyiv and our project architect are young, ambitious professionals who want to get the most out of a project. Both are around 35 years old and have a young family with two small children running about in their homes. But they have been living in completely contrasting worlds since the 24th, with the young father in Ukraine putting down his work to help defend his country.

In the Netherlands, we are preoccupied with the great challenges of a sustainable future; of the post-covid society, the disconnection from fossil raw materials, the transition to a circular economy and declining biodiversity. The urgency of this becomes seriously relative when you see the task the Ukrainians are facing, in which security, freedom and democracy are at stake. We hope for a quick peace for the Ukrainians, and that we will be able to see our partners in good health again.

Ronald Schleurholts, architect-partner cepezed

Cobouw, March 3th 2022

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