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I’ve visited Kiev from the 16th to the 25th of July.
I have been drawn in by some amazing companies in the field of natural buildings and here I’ll share my experience.

Monday afternoon

Sergey Sherstnew and his wife, both founders of GlinKo picked me up and we headed to a building site, where they had do deliver some clay plaster for the final layer.

So the meeting started on the road and was from time to time interrupted by calls from Sergey’s customers or by me looking for some words in my small Russian Dictionary.

They told me their story and hustle of building up one of the very first clay plaster companies in Ukraine and their goal to sell their unique collared and high quality clay plaster all over Ukraine and maybe even to other countries in Europe.

In over more than ten years they found all the hidden clay pits in the „Granary of Europe“ and collected a presentable colour palette of clay plaster without artificially added pigments.

Arriving at the building site, we learned that the workers who have been supposed to carry in the clay plaster already left – Sergey simply said: “Welcome to Ukraine!“

So I happily helped them to carry the bags inside – and being a man of his word, Sergey paid me my first salary in cash – 300 Hryvnia!

Checkout their website and online shop: http://glinko.com.ua

and facebook: https://www.facebook.com/glinko.com.ua

Wednesday lunch time

I met Alexander Shevchenko, the founder of EcoFutureHouse, a busy man who came to our meeting by plane from their current building site in Spain.

I have been looking forward to this meeting because I saw their work online – prefabricated EcoPanels – wooden framed walls, filled with compressed straw or reed and on site plastered with clay- and lime.

Alexander seemed experienced enough to know, that the way to a man‘s stomach doesn’t only lead to his heart but also makes for a good business deal – so the meeting took place in one of the best restaurants in town called: Kuvshin.

We had a very good time and talked about his projects but also how we could bring them to Austria, and well, I also learned from him, that in Kiev it’s still appropriate to charmingly talk to the waitress – and the dessert had been just as sweet.

Have a look at their broad portfolio of eco buildings:

https://www.facebook.com/EcoFutureHouse

http://www.ecofuturehouse.com

Friday noon, Cherkasy 

Alexander organised a visit for me to one of his building sites in Cherkasy, 200 km downstream of the river Dnieper, which flows right trough Kiev and gives the city it’s special charm.

After the bus drive that costed 7,5€ (240 Hryvnia) I arrived at the train station in Cherkasy where I called the landlord of the building site, Oleg Ivanovich.

And once again I felt deeply thankful for my Russian teacher back then in school who taught us not just to speak, but also to feel the Russian language – which is by the way just 50% similar to the Ukrainian language but nearly everybody speaks Russian as well.

Oleg picked me up in his nice VW estate and we first went to his company, Eurostroy, which supplies building materials to all scales of building sites and is an exclusive partner of BauMit.

Check them out: https://bud-komplekt.com.ua

On the way to his Dacha we also picked up his daughter, and complimentary to my regular fate in Austria where I often bump into Russian speaking people, she is at least the third daughter of someone I met on this journey who learns or studies in Austria/Germany, in that case in Vienna.

The Landscape is beautiful and the roads are better than in Russia.

The sign at the entrance is a good example for Ukrainian humour: 

„ОСТОРОЖНО ЗЛАЯ СОБАКА“ „STAY ALERT OF THE ANGRY DOG“

and the backside says: „А КОТ ВООБЩЕ ОБЕЗБАШЕННЫЙ“ „AND THE CAT IS TOTALY CRAZY“.

Oleg showed me his house, built by Alexander’s company called EcoFutureHouse, and I also got a chance to talk to one of his experienced workers on the site. He was even skinnier than me but by his powerful handshake you could clearly tell, how they could press the straw into the wooden frames with about 4 tons of force.

After being mounted together the prefabricated wooden straw panels are covered with a reinforcement mesh and a layer of clay-lime plaster that gives protection against insects.

The next two layers of plaster are a mixture of only clay and sand. On the inside and for the outside walls they use lime plaster or a variety of other finishing layers, i.e. wooden boards.

Friday evening

Returning to Kiev I started to make my way to the very last appointment of this already great week – scheduled at 19:30. I wanted to walk there by foot because I already had been sitting for about eight hours in cars and buses that day.

Soon I had to realise, I would not make it on time that way so I used another great feature of the town – the „Bolt“, a taxi-app like Uber.

While walking, I opened the app, typed in the address of the meeting and literary within a minute a car picked me up right on the spot and brought me to my destination.

With 2€ less in my pocket and another story richer to tell about the local cabdriver, I was happy to meet Sergey Kovalenkov, CEO of Hempire on time.

Get some inspiration here: https:// http://www.facebook.com/hempireua

http://www.hempire.com.ua/

The company builds houses out of shredded hemp and limestone – but it’s not just lime, it’s „the 5th Element“ and I didn’t dare to ask what all the secret natural ingredients are 😉

We talked all sorts of things from „A“ like alternative building techniques, be it their unique hemp technique, the wood-straw- clay panels or the rammed earth buildings by the Austrian master-builder Martin Rauch to „Z“ like zoom calls, when Sergey told me about his ambitions to introduce hemp as a regular building material in the USA, for which he just had had a zoom meeting right before our get together.

And once again a connection was made, a foundation for future cooperations and exchange – this time in english.

I remembered a song we used to sing in school with our Russian teacher in my Austrian hometown Linz: „Язык открываеть дверь в мир“ – „A language opens a door to the world“ –

and I realised: also to the heart – и в сердце.

And a big Thanks goes to Barbara and Катя for correcting my grammar and spelling!!