"Unique" and "the first in Ukraine" - these definitions were most often heard on January 25 from the participants of the opening of the multifunctional shelter CLUST SPACE for students, teachers and staff of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in the university's Scientific and Technical Library named after H.I. Denysenko.

This was said by people who have seen quite a lot in their professional biography: representatives of government, business, public organizations and, of course, polytechnics themselves.

The Smart Shelter, or "smart shelter" (as this phrase is translated from English), with an area of almost 600 square meters, can accommodate up to 500 people. It is truly multifunctional, as those who will be in this modern space during air raids will be able to continue their studies and work without interrupting their studies, hold hackathons and scientific conferences, business meetings and brainstorming sessions, relax and prepare for classes, etc. It is not without reason that the slogan of the opening of the new shelter was "Safe Space of Ideas". So the shelter is divided into several zones for different purposes: common workspaces, meeting rooms, restrooms, and sanitary and hygienic needs. All of them are equipped with everything people need. 

"We are in a situation where the largest European country is at war. And this is in the digital age, the age of modern technology and powerful development," Pavlo Peker, the chief architect of Peker & Partners studio, bitterly shared his thoughts on this work with Kyiv Polytechnic. "I have worked for many years in countries where the war is ongoing - in Iraq, Libya, as well as in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and have quite a wide experience in the field of security solutions. But I never thought I would have to apply it in my home country."

It's hard to believe that until recently, this was just a basement library book depository - albeit dry and clean, but rather gloomy and not the kind of place you'd want to spend more than a few minutes in to find and bring up a book you've ordered. Not so now. Of course, the new purpose of these squares is not exactly one that inspires the desire to come down here again and again. But in order to ensure that a person who finds himself in real danger in the shelter does not feel like a creature driven underground, who has to just wait it out and endure the terrible hours of shelling, the architects and builders did their best. There is no dim lighting and sand on the floor, no smell of mold and dull dripping, no shabby walls and no old cracked benches brought in from nowhere. Instead, the new shelter has everything to make those who will have to stay here for the rest of their lives feel comfortable. Everything has been carefully thought out - from the brightness of the light and the color and shape of the furniture comfortable for sitting, resting and sleeping to the location of sockets and the ability to keep in touch with the outside world (there is no need to mention the Internet). Books for different tastes and interests are displayed on light shelves along the walls. Of course, given that this shelter is part of the university library, most of them are quite serious, but there are also adventure, children's, and other books. Moreover, this shelter even provides for the opening of a small cafeteria.

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The multifunctionality and comfort of these premises will allow them to be used not only during enemy shelling, but also in quiet times - as a coworking space and a convenient platform for various events. Of course, the smart shelter will be able to operate effectively even after the Victory.

"CLUST SPACE is not just a point solution to the problem of education during the war, but a systematic work on student development. This project has actually become a response to a large number of current demands of society, and it is a unique security solution that can be transferred to other regions of Ukraine and beyond," said Ruslan Tymofeev, the initiator of the CLUST SPACE project, entrepreneur, founder of the CLUST venture builder and CEO of the Adventures Lab venture fund.

The project was first presented in 2022 at the Sikorsky Challenge Festival of Innovative Projects, which is traditionally held every fall at Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. Of course, the jury noticed and appreciated the idea: the project became one of the winners. Next came the search for donors and partners, the development of design, visualization, and technical solutions. 

kpi images - на стадії ремонту

The installation, construction, and repair work in one of the library's former bookstores lasted 5 months. As project manager Anastasia Voitkevych said at the shelter's opening ceremony, a team of 36 people worked on it constantly. In total, 415 thousand dollars were invested in the creation of this shelter. At the same time, there is a very important nuance that she also did not forget to mention: "This is an absolutely charitable project. This means that it has no business component, no business cases for return on investment or profitability." That is, this project, among other things, is also a clear demonstration of the potential of a socially responsible business that recognizes its role in ensuring the livelihood and further development of our country, even in difficult times of war. 

The entire infrastructure of the shelter is designed to withstand a long period of danger. Moreover, the unique ventilation system allows a large number of people to safely stay in it for up to 72 hours, even if the enemy finally goes crazy and decides to use weapons of mass destruction. "I can assure you that no kindergarten, school or higher education institution has such a system today. I understand that it is expensive, but it will allow people to stay here in safety in the event of not only enemy shelling, but also, God forbid, some kind of radiation or chemical accident," said Oleh Stovolos, Head of the Civil Protection Department of the Kyiv City State Emergency Service, "And I personally think it's very cool. 

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"Security is an extremely important condition for ensuring educational and scientific processes in wartime. That is why the arrangement of a safe and comfortable space at Kyiv Polytechnic, Smart shelter CLUST SPACE, where the creative community will be able to create world-class innovations, is of great importance not only for the university but also for the whole country," said Mykhailo Zovolos, Rector of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, speaking to the participants of the shelter opening ceremony. The new innovative shelter on the basis of our Scientific and Technical Library will serve both the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute community and will be effectively used by the participants of the All-Ukrainian Innovation Ecosystem "Sikorsky Challenge Ukraine", the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Ministry of Digital Transformation, and other scientific and educational institutions and agencies for the development of innovations." 

By the way, the opening ceremony of the shelter ended with the first of the events dedicated to the country's innovative development - a panel discussion "Smart money. How Ukraine can make a technological leap. The role of business, government and education". It was attended by representatives of the government (Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Denys Kurbatov and Head of the DEFENCE-TECH project of the Brave1 cluster Natalia Kushnerska), education (Rector of the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute Mykhailo Zelenskyi), and business. Mykhailo Zgurovsky, Rector of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Inna Maliukova, Head of the KPI Ecosystem "Sikorsky Challenge"), business (Vice President of the Canadian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, Managing Partner of Toronto-Kyiv, co-founder of Yakaboo, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Promprylad. Renovation" Yuriy Kryvosheya) and the startup movement (co-founder and CEO of the startup Wantent, Associate Professor of the Department of Digital Technologies in Energy at KPI Oleksiy Shaldenko).

kpi images - CLUST SPACE

As for the further scaling of the project to create multifunctional shelters for Ukrainian universities, the initiators of its implementation said that they will equip such shelters primarily in those higher education institutions operating in cities located near the front line. So the next step is Oles Honchar Dnipro National University. IT entrepreneur and KPI graduate Mykhailo Savchenko was the first to donate a rather substantial amount of money for the construction of the shelter there. 

Dmytro Stefanovych

Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute realises a project for equipping a Smart Shelter in the library basement. In the newest hub, it will be possible to study and work safely during air alerts.

Journalists of the Inter TV channel spoke with the director of the library, Oksana Brui, and the head of the project, Anastasiia Voitkevych. They told how the old book storage was being turned into a multifunctional smart space.