Ukraine: Taras Poliovyi, restorer

Taras Poliovyi, restorer in Lviv, Ukraine

Taras Poliovyi is a carpenter. With great attention to detail, he restores historically unique old wooden windows and doors in his home town of Lviv. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, GIZ is supporting the Ukrainian city in preserving its UNESCO world cultural heritage site. Poliovyi and a dozen other tradespeople have set up small businesses and are now helping to preserve the historic cityscape.

How would you describe Lviv?

Lviv is my hometown. The city is like an open air museum. If you want to know what an architectural element looked like in any past era, you can simply walk into the old town and look at it. You can find every style from the Renaissance to Modernism.

What is going well, what is going badly in the city?

Lviv is a UNESCO world cultural heritage site and it needs motivated and qualified craftsmen for rehabilitation work. Cooperation between Germany and Ukraine has established a solid basis for this. But there are still too many people in the city who don’t think about the harm they are doing when they throw away old historic objects. I wish people here would treat the old buildings with more respect and would understand that we need to preserve them .

What does your work mean to you?

I need to really understand the work of the old masters, relate to their methods and imitate them – so that our grandchildren can also benefit from them. I see this as my duty and responsibility. I want to continue doing my work and spread my knowledge.

How are you helping others?

I help other townspeople with my expert knowledge. People often call me and ask for advice – on the phone or at a particular site. I don’t ask for money even if it often costs me a lot of time. In this way I can pass onto others my love for the old ways.

What is most important in your life?

My children are most important to me. I feel responsible for teaching them to preserve our cultural treasures. I hope my son will follow in my path and also become a restorer.


        
    
Taras Poliovyi looks down on his city from the City Hall tower. The old town of Lviv, declared World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, is like an open-air museum.
Taras Poliovyi looks down on his city from the City Hall tower. The old town of Lviv, declared World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, is like an open-air museum.

        
    
In the past, the facades in the old town were not properly restored. Cheap window frames were used and window linings were damaged. Photos: Maryan Borovets
In the past, the facades in the old town were not properly restored. Cheap window frames were used and window linings were damaged. Photos: Maryan Borovets

        
    
Careful urban renewal requires skilled craftsmanship, proper decisions at the local level, financial resources and participation by the citizens.
Careful urban renewal requires skilled craftsmanship, proper decisions at the local level, financial resources and participation by the citizens.

        
    
Under the direction of German restorers, GIZ trained local carpenters, stonecutters and blacksmiths to enhance their crafts and business skills.
Under the direction of German restorers, GIZ trained local carpenters, stonecutters and blacksmiths to enhance their crafts and business skills.

        
    
A group of carpenters has recognised the new market opportunities and formed a joint venture that performs restoration work independently.
A group of carpenters has recognised the new market opportunities and formed a joint venture that performs restoration work independently.

        
    
After the GIZ training courses former clandestine worker Taras Poliovyi, who is well-connected, started his own business and hired his own workers.
After the GIZ training courses former clandestine worker Taras Poliovyi, who is well-connected, started his own business and hired his own workers.

        
    
The windows of the Zankovetska Theatre were in poor condition. A call for tenders was put out for their restoration. Poliovyi‘s company was awarded the contract.
The windows of the Zankovetska Theatre were in poor condition. A call for tenders was put out for their restoration. Poliovyi‘s company was awarded the contract.

        
    
In one of the training courses delivered by GIZ, Poliovyi learned exactly what has to go into a professional offer, as well as other business skills.
In one of the training courses delivered by GIZ, Poliovyi learned exactly what has to go into a professional offer, as well as other business skills.

        
    
In his small workshop the carpenter collects old spare parts such as hinges and coils. “People throw this away even though it can still be used!”
In his small workshop the carpenter collects old spare parts such as hinges and coils. “People throw this away even though it can still be used!”

        
    
Since the doors and windows project, 60 historic house entrance doors and 400 historic windows have already been restored by skilled crafts businesses.
Since the doors and windows project, 60 historic house entrance doors and 400 historic windows have already been restored by skilled crafts businesses.