From Ivano-Frankivsk to Kyiv: Urban Space 500 was opened in the capital


From Ivano-Frankivsk to Kyiv: Urban Space 500 was opened in the capital 

The last week the Urban Space 500 restaurant started its work in Kyiv. It is the first restaurant opened under the social franchise of the Urban Space 100 public restaurant, the idea of which is owned by the “Тeple Misto” (“Тепле Місто”).  In the capital, this ambitious project is implemented by the NGO “Insha Osvita” (“Інша освіта”) and the management restaurant company Druzi Cafe & Bar. The project became possible thanks to the uniting of the five hundred co-founders and it has to contribute to positive changes in the life of the capital city.

How does the Urban Space program work?

Just four years ago, on December 27, in Ivano-Frankivsk, Urban Space 100 opened its doors. The idea and model of the Urban Space public restaurant, which is an example of social entrepreneurship, belongs to the “Тeple Misto” (“Тепле Місто”). The word “public” in the title indicates a few points.

Firstly, the mechanism of creating a restaurant - through the association of socially active people who want and are ready to invest in the project personal resources. 100 co-founders of the Urban Space 100 in Ivano-Frankivsk and 500 co-founders of the Restaurant in Kyiv one-off and irrevocably invested in the establishment of this spaces. Then: quarterly 80% of the generated profit of the restaurant form the fund for financing of the city projects. The co-founders of the restaurant decide what ideas they want support. During 4 years in Ivano-Frankivsk 84 projects received the sum of almost 2 mln of hryvnias. Among these projects are children's, educational, artistic, environmental and the projects which are aimed at improvement of the city’s spaces. Another feature of the restaurant is an unusual combination of functions: there is a playground for events, the studio of Urban Space Radio, a store of Ukrainian brands in addition to the restaurant itself and its kitchen.

An interesting format of social entrepreneurship, successful results of Urban Space 100, in particular the grant program, is a subject of active interest from the outside. It induced the “Тeple Misto” (“Тепле Місто”) to launch a program that involves the opening of Urban Space facilities in other cities on a social franchise basis. Over the past few years, we have received many requests for replication of the projects from different cities of Ukraine and the world, for example: Poltava, Chernivtsi, Zaporizhzhia, Berezhany, Kramatorsk, Kharkiv, Berlin, Almaty, Sofia, San Francisco. This proves that the experience of the Ivano-Frankivsk is interesting and innovative and it is an example of how we can unite our cities and change them. We are glad of the opening the first restaurant in Kyiv. The sustainable functioning of this integrated system will guarantee a management model that combines the social component of the project from NGO “Insha Osvita” (“Інша освіта”) in cooperation with the “Тeple Misto” (“Тепле Місто”) and qualitative restaurant management from the DRUZI Cafe & Bar. The opening of the restaurant was made possible due to the interest and funding of 500 co-founders, and its further effectiveness depends, to a large extent, on the activity of visitors, primarily Kyiv residents - said the coordinator of the Urban Space program, Marta Hladka.

Kyiv context

Between the idea of opening the Urban Space restaurant in the capital and the opening itself  passed a year and 9 months: this time was spent to gather co-founders, search for a management company and premises, repair and solving financial and legal issues.

In addition to the resources of the community of co-founders, the project is being implemented through a loan from WNISEF (within the framework of the program “Social Entrepreneurship”) and “Oshchadbank” (“Oщадбанк").

The restaurant is located in 5 minutes walk from the metro station “Khreshchatyk” (“Хрещатик”) - on the 9 Hrinchenko Street, where once was the legendary Musical Lane. His story began 150 years ago and is associated with the name of the famous architect Joseph Karakis: in the 1870s, a music school was set up, then the square nearby. During the World War II Lane was destroyed. The same room, in which Urban Space 500 had been settled, was built in 1937, at that time there was a musical school, and now it belongs to the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine.

Both restaurants, in Ivano-Frankivsk and Kyiv, combined with a social mission - to make cities more comfortable and interesting for life. But there are differences between the institutions. Comparing to Urban Space 100, the restaurant in Kyiv is larger and it has several halls called as the toponyms of Kyiv districts: “Podil”, “Obolon”, “Rusanivka”, “Troyeshchina”, etc. There is space for the studio of Urban Space Radio, which will begin to work later. The restaurant uses Ukrainian furniture, made from recyclable chairs IKEA. Various partners worked over space, and the final interior design is owned by Peker and Partners.

Talking about Urban Space 500 grant program, the topics of projects that can be submitted to the competition are not limited, but priorities will be determined quarterly (what Urban Space 100 doesn’t have). At the start it’s: transport and spatial solutions, the development of a culture of urban planning and revitalization of spaces, human-centeredness, progressive education, raising the level of environmental awareness.

My “Thank you” to my city

The community of co-founders of the restaurant consists of very different people, and probably some of them would never cross, if not Urban Space. In the Kyiv project, 87% of founders and foundresses are from Kyiv, the rest - from other cities and countries. The youngest founder is 18, the oldest is 88 years old. Many of the members of the community have entrepreneurial experience, a lot of them - in the field of public and charitable projects, one in ten - from the IT industry. Naturally, such a huge circle of people isn’t easy to come to an understanding, but shared goals are decisive, says Vitalii Skoblia, an IT account manager. He was fascinated by the idea of ​​a public restaurant and joined the top ten co-founders of Urban Space 500. Vitalii tells:
-  I was born in Rivne, but I have been living in Kyiv for over 25 years - this is my city. Participation in the project is a small thank you to Kyiv for giving many opportunities, what is comfortable and interesting here. I am guided by the rule: if you want and have the opportunity to do something better at your home, do it. I liked Urban Space format from the very beginning. In the concept of a public restaurant, I am particularly impressed by the grant program: raised money can be directed towards improving the city. As for me, it is important that the city should be comfortable - both for Kyiv lodgers and for those  who come here. Transport and environmental issues are also relevant for Kyiv, for example, the direction of sorting and recycling of garbage, while the city generates more than a million tons of rubbish each year.

To get to know the city better

The Urban Space 500 event program will be measured up to the context and demands of the capital city. Curator of the event platform, director, producer of documentary cinema, culturologist  Nadia Parfan tells:

Urban Space 500 is an innovative restaurant not only for Kyiv but also for the entire Ukraine. It is significantly different from Urban Space 100 in Ivano-Frankivsk. There is no finished concept of the event platform and can not be: it must be worked out. We are currently in the process of developing, we will test the formats by March. How do we see the event platform? On the one hand, the terms of a franchise from the “Тeple Misto” (“Тепле Місто”) set certain conceptual frameworks, on the other hand - they are complemented by the Kyiv context. In particular, Urban Space 500 is located in the heart of the capital, next to Maidan. It defines certain thematic priorities. The first is the urban, historical and architectural component of this place, which is of particular importance in urban fabric (the history of Musical Lane, the building of Joseph Karakis, House of Architect nearby); also around there are aggressive  area reclamation, irrepressible architectural processes that require an attention and analysis of the city inhabitants. Secondly, we would like to work with the city community: it is very different; it is important to learn, to appreciate and to respect this diversity. We would like people to get to know the city better with the help of our events: there are many atomized bubbles - small environments, which often don’t know about one another. Urban Space 500, in my opinion, should also be a cultural platform: in the center of the city two cinemas were closed in the last six months, there are not enough locations to represent the actual culture, something interesting, alternative, non-commercial, underground, unpopular. This is how I see it, but it is important that representatives of the Urban Space 500 community, which is very diverse and active, take active part in shaping the concept of the event venue.   

All events in Urban Space 500 are open and free. This is important for Kyiv: there are a lot of things that happen here, which are often not available for everyone at a price. Events should also be apolitical and non-discriminatory. The restaurant is inclusive: at the entrance to the institution there is a path for representatives of low-mobility categories; the podium that will some time later appear in the restaurant will also have a ramp. Compared to the Ivano-Frankivsk restaurant, the Kyiv one is bigger and more adapted: sound insulation and separation of space are provided. The hall with a playground is monofunctional, in other words it is focused on the event: it’s not possible to order food during the events, only drinks. Nadia Parfan concludes:

We already have a lot of inquiries and offers: this means that our event venue is needed. Among our first events is the presentation of the online edition of the ‘’Prohibition’’ (“Заборона”), the training on the inclusiveness of the spaces. During the test period, we will understand how to filter the ideas that we need as a community and a city, we will develop a sophisticated concept. It is important that the events that take place in Urban Space 500 are qualitative and conceptual. It should also be the step after which Kyiv will become the best city.

Photo: Source - UrbanSpace 500, photographer - Kirill Vasiliev

Text: Iryna Shutka

This material was first published on September 24, 2018, on the Ivano-Frankivsk news portal "Reporter" within the framework of the informational partnership of the “Teple Misto” (“Тепле Місто”) and the media resource "Reporter" (“Репортер”).