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Big debate: Should Podil landmark be developed or preserved?

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Aug. 22, 2012, 8:39 p.m. | Kyiv — by Oksana Faryna

This artist's depiction shows a proposed reconstruction project of Hostynny Dvir. The plan, presented by an architect and Kyiv City Council member Andriy Myrhorodsky, would change the Podil neighborhood building in several ways. Arches will be covered with glass, the third floor rebuilt and the courtyard covered with a glass roof.
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Oksana Faryna

Kyiv Post Staff Writer

The site of the protests is a picturesque, white-walled courtyard on Kontraktova Square in Kyiv. For nearly three months, a handful of activists have occupied Hostynny Dvir, or Hospitable Courtyard, to save it from privatization and preserve it as a city landmark.

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Mykhayl Aug. 23, 2012, 6:38 a.m.    

Слава Ісу~

Lord,
Give those with taste money,
and those with money taste.

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Philip Larmett Aug. 28, 2012, 11:36 a.m.    

Gostinny Dvor (Hostinny Dvir) is not an ancient monument. It is, as the article points out, a reconstruction in the late Soviet period (1980's) about the same time when a whole section of Podil was demolished to make way for the metro. There are empty plots in all the streets between Kontraktova and Shevchenka metros because of this.
A city is not a fixed place. Renewals and rebuildings go on all the time. The new building that filled a hole in Sagaidachno St is a case in point. It looked really bad when they were building the concrete carcass, but now the facade has been finished off in tune with the architecture of the rest of the street.
So new building and development is part of the lifeblood of a city. If the only place we can build something new is a greenfield site, then everything will move to Obolon, and the older districts will die. This has already happened to a large extent to Podil.
The Hostinny Dvir building is modelled on the one in St Petersburg; that houses a quite successful department store in the central city. The equivalent in Moscow has become a successful exhibition and concert hall: the interior space has been put to excellent use and the external facade has been restored to some glory.
And that's what needs to be done in Podil. The building has been under-utilised for as long as I have known Kyiv (10 years now). The inside yard was kept locked. It's great that the protesters are drawing attention to a prominent building on the central square of Podil; clearly it can be put to better uses.
But, of course it has to be done with taste. It needs to be a central attraction. The inside yard could become a theatre, exhibition and cultural area, the shops in the building could really add to the square, if a good mix is found.
The building dominates the square; it's the first thing you notice when leaving Andriivskiy Hill, and can be seen all the way from Poshtova. A bright, attractive landmark, with a remodelled square as in the artist's impression may be a good thing. Leaving it to rot without any investment is not.

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