The Bartlett School of Architecture


Close Readings: Reflections on Spatial Practice in the Age of War

21 February 2024, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Children in Subway, Still from 89 Days

A screening of the short documentary film '89 days' followed by a panel discussion of architects' and journalists' response to war and devastation of the built environment, focusing on the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine.

This event is free.

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The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL


G.01 Ground Floor
The Bartlett School of Architecture
22 Gordon Street
United Kingdom

On the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, this event aims to delve into the realms of journalism and architecture, focusing particularly on the destruction brought by war. The event begins with a screening of the short documentary film ‘89 Days’ (20 min) directed by Pavlo Dorohoi, followed by discussion with Vasilisa Stepanenko, Pulitzer Prize winning Ukrainian video journalist, Anna Reid, English journalist and author of the book, Borderland: A Journey through the History of the Ukraine, and Ievgeniia “Jenia” Gubkina, Ukrainian architectural and urban historian, author of the book Being a Ukrainian Architect During Wartime. 

How might architects respond to war? How do journalists react to the devastation of the built environment? Why are their roles often intertwined? War doesn't afford the luxury of distant observation – it doesn't permit first-hand reporting from the scene. For the ongoing war, there can be no retrospective view offered by historians, no futuristic envisioning by architects. For this war, there exists only the immediacy of "now," and it is within this realm that journalism operates. 

‘89 days’ film summary: Since the first days of the war, the subway has become a bomb shelter for many Kharkiv residents. For two months, they have been equipping it for a more or less comfortable life. But the local government and the subway management want to vacate the subway of its residents and launch the transit network again. 

This event is organised by the Architecture & Historic Urban Environments MA. 


Vasilisa Stepanenko is a Pulitzer Prize winning Ukrainian video journalist and investigative reporter working for The Associated Press, whose front-line work – in both breaking news and investigations – focuses on issues of human rights and social justice, especially related to the war in her country. She is a field producer for the Oscar and BAFTA nominated documentary “20 Days in Mariupol”. 

Pavlo Dorohoi is the Director of ‘89 Days’. In 2016, he studied at the DOKDOKDOK school of contemporary photography. In 2019, he directed his first short documentary film, Diary 1937, as part of the Documentary Film Lab. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, he has focused on documenting the situation in Kharkiv and the region. His photographs have been published in many European publications, including Der Spiegel, and the American New York Times and New Yorker. From March to May, he worked on a documentary about the lives of people in the Kharkiv subway during the first months of the war. His feature-length documentary METRO 2022 won the EFM award at our 2nd edition of the Ji.hlava New Visions Forum 2022. 

Anna Reid is an English journalist and author whose work focuses primarily on the history of Eastern Europe. She holds a law degree from Oxford, and a master’s in Russian history from London University’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies. She was Kyiv correspondent for the Economist and the Daily Telegraph from 1993 to 1995. From 2003 to 2007 she worked for the British think-tank Policy Exchange, editing several of their publications and running the foreign affairs programme. Her first book, Borderland: A Journey through the History of the Ukraine, was published to wide acclaim in 1997. 

Jenia Gubkina is a Ukrainian architect, architectural and urban historian, and curator. Her work focuses on architecture and urban planning of the 20th century in Ukraine, with a multidisciplinary approach to heritage studies. Jenia is a co-founder of Urban Forms Center, a leading Ukrainian NGO that specialises in the study, preservation, and popularisation of Modernist heritage. She is the author of the books Slavutych: Architectural Guide (2015) and Soviet Modernism. Brutalism. Post-Modernism. Buildings and Structures in Ukraine 1955–1991 (2019). In 2020–2021 She curated the Encyclopedia of Ukrainian Architecture, an online multimedia project that worked with architecture, history, criticism, cinema, and visual arts. In 2023, Jenia’s latest book, Being a Ukrainian Architect During Wartime was released, offering insights into her experiences against the backdrop of the war. 

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Image Caption: Children in Subway - still from 89 Days, documentary by Pavlo Dorohoi