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Safety Architecture. Red Cross Med Center

27 of February '24

The fear and insecurity of residents of war zones requires a special, empathetic form of assistance. A space that provides a sense of security on many levels is offered by the Red Cross Med Center, a network of facilities where those struggling with the trauma of war will find support.

Aleksander Janicki, an artist, creator of interactive installations and author of multimedia and architectural projects, has been active since the beginning of the war in Ukraine both in providing direct aid to refugees and in supporting Ukrainian architects, including organizing exhibitions of their work, judging competitions and, finally, engaging them to collaborate on a unique project. We're talking about the Red Cross Med Center initiative, an innovative network of medical centers in Ukraine to help those facing war trauma.

logotyp projektu Red Cross

Red Cross project logo

© AYA Found

We talk about the project's genesis and innovative solutions with its initiator, Alek Jancki, president of AYA Found and a member of the Expert Committee of the National Association of Architects of Ukraine on reconstruction and international cooperation

Ola Kloc: How was the Red Cross Med Center project born?

Alek Janicki: From the first day of the war I was at the epicenter of events. On February 24, 2022, the exact day the war broke out, I had a concert at the KTO Theater [performance "BlackSatori" editor's note]. It was a shocking news, the concert was dedicated to Ukraine. Later I took an active part in the exodus of Ukrainians to Krakow Żenia and Dania (whose yellow hands against the sky are part of the graphic identity of the project to help Ukraine Kultura Futura Świt implemented by the AYA Found) still live in the adapted part of APTEKA Gallery. I had and still have regular contact with the refugee population in Krakow, and by the fact that for the past two years I have been traveling regularly to Ukraine with projects, exhibitions, performances, to the Wiża conference or to the center for international cooperation created by the National Association of Architects of Ukraine and AYA Found in the castle in Svirzh, I know on a regular basis what is going on there.

identyfikacja wizualna projektu pomocy Ukrainie Kultura Futura Świt realizowanego przez fundację AYA Found

Visual identity of the project to help Ukraine Culture Futura Świt implemented by AYA Found

© AYA Found

The bestial warfare, especially in the first period, was striking, because it also affected the civilian population. So it was known that a powerful threat to the community lurked in the background, the threat of trauma that is an immanent part of war time. He works with institutions related to medicine in the broadest sense, including the In Corpore Foundation in Katowice. At the end of 2022, a meeting was held to thank the AYA Found for its support for the Ukrainian community, which was attended by Wiaczesław Wojnarowśkyj, Ukrainian consul in Krakow, Jaroslaw Wieczorek, honorary Ukrainian consul in Katowice, and Iwona Sosnowska-Wieczorek, president of the In Corpore Foundation, among others. I remember a poignant speech by Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz [the current Minister of Culture and National Heritage editor's note] on war traumas and so-called post-traumatic stress of a frightening scale. It became clear that in addition to this obvious space of activities related to concrete aid, the future also required dealing with the sphere from the field of psychology. Out of this need, I came up with the idea for Red Cross a network of trauma centers. Death, separation from loved ones, constant airplane alerts, and at the same time not easy everyday life affect millions. Most of them are experiencing a mental health crisis.

Ola: The project took the shape of an isosceles cross, what is the reason for such an arrangement?

Alek: There have been situations where medical infrastructure has been shot at. The idea of the Red Cross is that places that are marked with it are safe they are protected by international law. Not only that an attack on such marked places is qualified immediately as a war crime. So I thought, couldn't it be possible to go a step further and build a safe building protected by international law, which by its form and color scheme would be an obvious element in the infrastructure. So I first contacted the Polish Red Cross, and they further contacted Geneva, asking if we could carry out such an action at all. According to international law, it is Ukraine, a country under martial law, that must apply for such a construction permit. Red Cross staff in Geneva could not get out of their awe they had never received such an inquiry before. The permit was tentatively granted to us.

rzut i przekrój

plan and cross-section

© AYA Found

Such permits are granted by the Red Cross only for times of war. However, according to our assumption, this infrastructure is designed to remain also for the post-war and reconstruction period. The most important thing is the sense of safety for patients. On the one hand, the building takes the form of the Red Cross [isosceles cross ed. note] then it protects against a possible attack, and on the other hand the "armor" covering the building can be pulled apart and the shape of the building changes: its volume increases, glazing appears, access to daylight a kind of oasis with an ecosystem of greenery inside is created.

Ola: You mentioned movable modules, you also included recycled building materials in the design, among other things. Tell us a little more about the proposed architectural and technological solutions, please

Alek: It is a performative building we have a solution for peacetime and wartime, the building will also be able to extend in situations where there is no threat of shelling. Its form is dynamic.

I also wanted the formal solution of the medical point to be followed by innovative technologies, which would be a kind of signpost for the idea of rebuilding Ukraine. Model features that relate to the ideas of the New European Bauhaus, solutions that strive for sustainable development.

rzuty projektu

project plans

© AYA Found

As such, the entire building is safe on several levels. First, because of the shell, which is a cover in critical situations I mean the elements of the module that are movable; second, it is safe inside inside we plan to create an ecosystem where therapists and people dealing with trauma will feel safe. So we will introduce elements related to BioAktiW a specific that causes the atmosphere inside to be free of pathogens. Thus, this will be the first facility in the world to systemically introduce solutions that would give a sense of bacteriological safety in a dynamically changing future. The next levels of security are energy security, digital security (developed in cooperation with the AGH University of Science and Technology), which we want to ensure by introducing a security system known from airplanes into the building, security related to climate challenges through the use of heat pumps and other solutions that we want to implement as a pilot replacing styrofoam insulation with compressed straw, in which we are supported by VestaEco, the first Polish manufacturer of such solutions in Europe.

All these elements form a set that defines the individual buildings in the series, as we plan to create a network of them, with each facility tailored to the needs of local communities. The project is scalable. We are not building a series of identical facilities. For now, in consultation with local governments in Ukraine, we have selected five locations [Stryi, Brzeżany, Ternopil, Mostyska, Bibrka editor's note]. We are at the design stage, in which we are determining what acreage we have, what the scale of the facility will be, the specific functions will be closely related to the expectations of the community. For example, the first facility to be built in Stryi will be connected to the existing hospital infrastructure it will be a complementary element for it.

M-30 / Droga Jedności Ukrainy / Droga Jedności Międzynarodowej

M-30 / Road of Unity of Ukraine / Road of International Unity
The road was created as part of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence in 2021 from the merger of the pre-existing M04 and M12 routes; the Red Cross network takes form in the cities marked on the map

© AYA Found

The Red Cross Med Center thus has a defined primary goal therapeutic while each time  and this is also what our cooperation with Ukrainian architects Bohdan Goy, professor at Lviv Polytechnic University, and Mykola Sheremeta, head of the Lviv branch of the National Union of Architects of Ukraine, is about. A set of main elements, defined in Poland, will be defined locally in consultation with local governments, and detailed designs will be created for specific objects with targeted functional tasks, using Polish know-how derived from business, but also innovative solutions coming from the academic environment of Krakow's AGH and URK universities.


From February 28, in the Main Post Office Building in Krakow, the exhibition "POSTMAN" summarizing Alek Janicki's activities in support of Ukraine and continuing artistic interventions carried out jointly with the National Association of Architects of Ukraine and the AYA Found will have its opening. This audiovisual performance will include forms of video, photography and a site-specific installation on the site of the former Main Post Office, among others.

The main theme of the event will be never-sent postcards an artistic documentation of the state of war and artistic, creative activities, conferences, discussions, meetings providing a platform for dialogue with Ukraine, the organizers announced.

The Red Cross Med Center project will not be absent from the exhibition. It will be an opportunity not only to learn about the concept, but also to make your contribution to its realization by purchasing a card with a commemorative stamp. The exhibition will be open until March 28.


details and contact:

The project was initiated by the AYA Found and the National Union of Architects of Ukraine. The author of the concept is Aleksander Janicki, and the coordinator of the project is Aleksander Baranowski, secretary of the National Union of Architects of Ukraine in Kiev. More information about the project can be found at

Ambassadors of the Red Cross Med Center project are:

  • Prof. Andrzej Jajszczyk, AGH
  • prof. Jerzy Lis, rector of AGH
  • Prof. Bogdan De Barbaro, psychiatrist and therapist
  • Prof. Akiko Kasuya, Kyoto City University of Art
  • Jan Tombiński, diplomat, ambassador of the European Union to Ukraine (2012-2016)
  • Prof. Sylwester Tabor, PhD, rector of the Hugo Kołłątaj Agricultural University in Krakow
  • Prof. Jerzy Niewodniczański, physicist and geophysicist
  • Robert Makłowicz, journalist and publicist
  • Ziyad Raoof, diplomat, Plenipotentiary of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Poland

Ola Kloc

illustrations provided courtesy of Aleksander Janicki

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