In March 2022, METALAB cooperated with the Urban Curators to launch the CO-HATY project to create housing for people who lost their homes as a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. With the support of partners and volunteers, the team renovates buildings, creates thoughtful designs for spaces, and furnishes them with love and dignity.

FORMAT: renovation, spatial design, object design
TIME: 2022 to now
PARTNERS: USAID, Sign of Hope, International Organization for Migration


The war caused the most significant housing crisis in the history of independent Ukraine. At the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, about 12 million people were forced to leave their homes, including about 6.5 million who moved to the west of the country. Due to the urgent challenge of the lack of housing, the team considered how architects could help address the crisis.

In March 2022, during the initial weeks of the full-scale war, the METALAB team collaborated with the Urban Curators members who had relocated from Kyiv and launched the CO-HATY to create housing for people who had lost it with love and dignity. The team carried out a pilot project (together with partners Second Home IF): restoring a part of a university dormitory that had been empty for over five years. At that time, the project received an incredible amount of support.

Our friends from abroad generously sent us building materials, equipment, and financial assistance. A group of volunteers formed a community and worked on the site, even though they had no experience in construction or design. This unity and care delivered support during the crisis.

We are able to restore buildings with the help of a community of people who share our vision, as well as financial and expert support from our partners. Our restoration process involves applying architectural and urban expertise, collaborating with local authorities and property owners, seeking funding for repairs and furnishings, coordinating construction, designing furniture, and working with local industries.

The issue of unaffordable housing is becoming more severe. Research indicates that incomes are decreasing, and the private rental sector is still insecure. Those who have lost their homes due to the destruction of their cities will be homeless for a prolonged period. This highlights the urgency for the provision of social housing for long-term residency.

The team focuses on creating comfortable, beautiful housing with small details that make it feel like home, not a temporary residence. To achieve this, we redevelop buildings: add bathrooms and common spaces outside and inside the building; equip kitchens and laundry rooms. The team doesn’t skimp on materials and peeks eco-friendly solutions, collaborating with local manufacturers. We choose calming, light colors for walls and furniture and add plants.

Since the project’s inception, its primary value has been a community where people care about each other. At CO-HATY facilities, creating communities of neighbors with mutual respect and trust is significant. We involve (future) residents in planning, renovating, and administrating the spaces to integrate them into the new community and build a sense of ownership.

During the project’s existence, we have restored and prepared for living seven facilities in Ivano-Frankivsk and Khmelnytsky regions that can accommodate about 1,500 internally displaced persons.

We continue to restore housing and develop the project with the realization that many Ukrainians cannot return to their homes for a prolonged time. We are moving towards creating models of long-term affordable housing for those in need and plan to expand the project’s geography and work in other regions of Ukraine.