Culture News Science Society, 04/03/2017

‘Slovo’ House Story of Ukrainian ‘Executed’ Renaissance Reconstructed

“New meetings with ‘Slovo’ House” event took place at the Kharkiv Literary Museum on February 28, the last day of winter.

The main goal was to provide all interested with the access to unknown materials about ‘Slovo’ House. Materials kept in the Central State Scientific and Technical Archives of Ukraine were exhibited in the museum only for one day.

‘Slovo’ House (“Slovo” means “Word” in Ukrainian – KhO), designed by Mykhaylo Dashkevich in the late 1920s for Ukrainian Soviet writers, in early 1930-s turned gradually into a place of terror: most of its inhabitants were persecuted and killed by the Soviet authorities.

Lecture of the state archive experts and a big handful of information from the museum specialists were accompanied with a presentation of internet project.

Anastasia Kovalyova, the current resident of Slovo House, presented a project of a site dedicated to personalities of Ukrainian “Executed/Red” Renaissance, their stories, relationships, work. Anastasia settled in a spacious apartment in the house, Kultury 9, in early childhood. It was at the end of the 80s, she lived here almost whole her life, but knew only some bits of the story about what happened here in the 30-s.

As a programmer and web developer, Anastasia came up with the idea of doing site after some fruitful discussions with Kharkiv’s tour guides, historians, etc. in autumn 2017. At first, Anastasia planned to do technical part only, the research work and site content should have been provided by other specialists, from Literary Museum in particular. But then she started to do her own research and plunged deeply into the story of the building and its inhabitants. Quite a few of months were spent gathering information, processing and elaborating the idea behind the site. Also, the visual part seemed very important to Anastasia, so it also required time to come up with concept and design.  Now the idea is polished and the site is under construction. The first version is expected in about two months from now.

“The site is designed in gray and yellow tones with accents of red brick color. The colors were taken from the building itself – the facade of it is gray, the other side is red brick, tile on the floor is yellow and gray,” tells Anastasia. “The site will be done as one-page design when each piece of information is shown in full-screen. This technique is widely used nowadays when it comes to sites with storytelling. As user scrolls down, the another portion of the information is shown. The change of the screens is accompanied with slight animation effects which add interactivity and dynamics.”

Anastasia explained her insights on “proslovo” website design in more detail. According to her, the home page is the guide to all the other sections and the summarized story of the house.  The complete story is told in a separate section with the timeline, which has time axis and slides tied to specific dates on this axis.

Further, the darkest moments of the ‘Slovo’ House will be visualized. Anastasia says: “The most important section is Residents. Writers are shown in a couple of ways. We have an entire scheme of the apartments shown altogether. Here we show the very first inhabitants. The scheme makes it obvious who lived where, who were neighbors. There is an option “repressions”, if it is turned on, then we can see destinies of first inhabitants indicated by color. Red – shot, blue – exiled for many years, deep red – exiled and died in exile, purple  – suicide, green – killed under unclear circumstances, yellow – short term repressions. But at different times there were more owners than one in each apartment. After one was repressed he was replaced by another. So to show all of them we divide them by “entrances”. House has 5 of them. We come to the 1st entrance and see ground floor and who lived here, then we scroll and go up to last floor. As in elevator. Then we can switch to the next entrance and go through its apartments and so on. Each photo leads to the writer’s detailed profile.”

Architecture Section will be also done with parallax scrolling effects. There will be old drawings from archives and modern drawings that were made within GalitsiyaKult residence in June 2016. Section Numbers will provide statistics on repressions (arrests and executions) over the years, social network writers (who joined which group, who were friends or enemies), etc.

“Photos, Videos, Current Projects and News, Useful resources and books – there is a lot that can be shown to make the story complete”, continues Anastasia. “Tour Guides that tell about the house Slovo can place their information online.”

After the first version of the site is released, Anastasia hopes more specialists will join the project to make the profiles of writers as extended as possible. So the content management system to easily add, edit, revise data will be required. The access to it is to be then provided to historians and philologists.


Text: Victoria Sklyarova

Photos: Radio Svoboda, Anastasia Kovalyova