Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Friday 18th February – (Kiev)

After validating the visa story by trying to speak to various Ukranians on the flight and arriving through passport control with a warm imperial feeling in my stomach - I was struck by the distinct difference to Moscow: even less English advertising, less English spoken and much, MUCH cheaper. Not being stitched up by the taxi driver seemed a little easier to navigate too – or perhaps I was and I didn’t know the difference due to the contrast in prices… I’ll no doubt find out next time.

The project we’ve been asked to have a look at is a really interesting one, which has much the same sensitivities that a central London planning application may face. In the heart of a cultural district, there are opportunities to create an intervention between old and new that hopefully, if we do our job correctly, will engage the local community, provide a dynamic civic space and also create much needed grade A office space in the centre of town.

It’s true what they say about Kiev, it’s a fun city with lots of natural beauty… The architecture is typical Russian fare, but there is an element of style and grandeur that is more compacted than in Moscow and the hills make it much more photogenic.

Friday night passed uneventfully as it is a difficult gig to get anywhere where no English is spoken and all the signage is in Cyrillic.

Had a brilliant Pulp Fiction moment however, when all attempts at McDonalds (this was the best attempt at an eatery that wasn’t based on low quality meat… sorry not fair as Ukranian food on the whole is excellent, but you try ordering from a Russian menu when your Russian doesn’t extend further than“OK” “Perfect”   “Please” “Thank You” and “One for the Road…”). Anyway, attempts to order a “quarter with cheese” went through four members of helpful staff until jubilantly, the manager appeared and said in a broken Russian-American accent “Ah, you mean a Royale with cheese”... John Travolta is popular everywhere… genius.

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