Gyumri – Arch.quake


13th edition
150 design students + young professionals
11 projects
Gyumri || Armenia
05.08. – 20.08. || 2023

What is a MEDS Workshop?

MEDS “Meetings of Design Students” Workshop is an international workshop that takes part each summer in a different country, focusing on various issues, themes, topics and settings that will help any designer expand their expertise. It is a chance to get in touch with diverse approaches to design, different building techniques, traditions and skills. MEDS Workshop is both practical and educational because it focuses not only on creative theoretical designs, but actually compels participants to execute these designs during the 2-week span of the workshop. You can apply to MEDS as a tutor or as a participant.

Gyumri – Arch.quake 2023

Concept / Topic

Meds 2023 is going to Gyumri – Armenia’s cultural capital and its second largest city. Due to the defining historical events surrounding the city the theme of the Meds workshop has been chosen to be “Arch quake.” In 1988, a large scale earthquake struck Gyumri and surrounding towns, marking a turning point in the city’s history and shifting its identity from the city of artists and craftsmen to the city of misery. The devastation had affected the region so much, that even after 30 years people still deal with its consequences. However, the last 4 years have been a renaissance for Gyumri itself, which has inspired the idea of hosting a transformative Meds workshop with a theme of reawakening, rebuilding and reimagining, instead of still recovering in the aftermath of the earthquake. We believe that this may be a new start for rethinking and reevaluating what we have and how essential human mindset is to overcoming even a disaster.

About Gyumri

As a major cultural center, Gyumri is famous for its many workshops and artistic institutions. Many craftsmen found refuge and work in this burgeoning city and put their varied talents to use creating long-lasting traditions and timeless monuments. Stone masonry, metalsmithing, and other traditional crafts have become family heritage here and are passed down from generation to generation. Gyumri has birthed many of Armenia’s most famous artists, musicians, and actors, and continues this proud tradition to this day. But it is not just old tradition that we want to explore, but to push it further and explore new technologies and methods of expression, beyond even what has commonly been done in this sphere before. MEDS Workshop participants will have a real opportunity to work alongside these fabled master craftsmen and transform their centuries-old techniques into contemporary design applications.

Historical Context

Kumayri, Alexandropol, Leninakan, Gyumri has gone by many names through its long and tumultuous history at the strategic crossroads between east and west, with each epoch and passing ruler leaving a lasting mark on the urban fabric of this mystically alluring place. From iron age settlements dating back to 8th century BC to grand art nouveau facades, the city has evolved while retaining a distinct character and personality found nowhere else in the region. Most notably, the old historic district of Gyumri is one of only few places in the modern Republic of Armenia with authentic urban Armenian architecture that’s survived centuries of conquer, plunder and natural disasters. Even after two major earthquakes devastated the city in the last century, more than a thousand buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries still stand as a testament to a bygone era that today forms a part of the unique character of Gyumri.


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Tutors || Ioulia Medzidaki & Alkmini Damianakou

Our idea highlights strongly the core value of optimism above all else, to meet the needs of Gyumri and its people. The earthquake of 1988 wrecked not only the buildings but also the spirit of the city. Using a grid as a baseline, we will try to “stitch up” the wounds with installations, by gathering inspiration from fragments & traditional patterns of the Armenian culture and craftsmanship.


Tutors || Marisa Borabo & Hadir Al Koshta

Our objective is to build a strong relationship with the children in the neighborhood, collaborate with them and our participants, and create an enjoyable play space. By integrating elements of participation, design and refurbishment, we aspire to revive the playground in this Gyumri quarter. Our goal is to create a dynamic and interactive play environment.


Tutors || Blanka Przedpełska & Katarzyna Skórniewska

Can looking at a data visualization make you feel part of a story of someone’s life? Our main idea is to represent a clash of perceptions between locals and tourists. Throughout the collaborative research, we want to collect interesting data about Gyumri: architectural, social, cultural, or whatever gets our attention. Collected data will be presented visually according to the chosen theme.


Tutors || Marita Etel & Krystyne Anathasia Kontos

The concept of the project is to create a series of experimental books that document Gyumri’s rich culture and moments. These books aim to re-think and re-imagine storytelling through printed media, making the experience more tangible and immersive to each reader. The end result will be a Pop Up Library in the city displaying all the outcast book designs, stories and collected data.


Tutors || Tinne Beirinckx & Kris Drieghe & Pieter Daenen

We want to applaud the connection between the city and countryside together with a team of designers and with artisans from Shirak and its surroundings in a new monument to the passerby. The purpose of our design is to bring the participants in contact with the proximity of the agricultural landscape, with traditional crafts and familiar, country-based building techniques.


Tutors || Karine Hovhannisyan & Mesrop Hayrapetyan

The project aims to give the pavilion a complete look by providing it with a “roof” and giving it a new purpose by extending its usefulness after daytime via the self-illuminated feature. Special consideration has also been given to the lake for keeping it alive during the nighttime with glowing boats.
Light and lighting are the tools being used to achieve the goals of the project.


Tutors || Mohamed Abdelbary & Mykyta Lytvynenko

Our project consists of two parts – Stage Pavilion and Up-cycled Music Instruments. The first part is the construction phase, where the shell structure is created by building and connecting hyperbolic paraboloids. The final design of the stage is not fixed and is to be developed through the workshop. The second part is improvisational, by creating DIY acoustic musical instruments. 


Tutors || Andrew Byrne & Georgia Zachari

MEDS Blackbox is an experimental, multidisciplinary, continuous project, that will start in Armenia and continue every year as a momento, wherever the workshop is held. It consists of a simple design pavilion, made to be built in a few days. Once the outside structure is done, the team will work together on deciding what the inside will be. An exhibition? A chilling area? A radio station?


Tutors || Mariam Loretsyan & Lena Gevorgyan

This photo project seeks to capture the spirit of modern Gyumri – a city filled with inspiring people working to make it a better place.
The idea of the photo project is to show Gyumri from a positive angle. Together with the participants, we will find people that will show us their vision of modern Gyumri, the city that can inspire with its own vibe.


Tutors || Alberto Collet

It is a landmark covered with a reflective surface that amplifies the surrounding place in a chameleon-like manner but which at the same time acts as a mirador to frame new territories and parts of the city. The element represents a unique and exciting visual experience, capable of capturing the attention and arousing the curiosity of anyone who observes it.


Tutors || Kieran Donnellan

This project re-establishes a positive relationship between the locals of Gyumri and the earth. It counters the trauma of the earthquake with a meditative space focused on horticulture by encapsulating the processes involved in planting and harvesting vegetables.

Projects Map


of MEDS ’23

The Team.

Vahe Buniatyan: Chip engineer – Finance Department
Mariam Arshakyan: Architect – Management Department / Communication Department
Armine Shahbazyan: Illustrator – Media Team
Arus Grigoryan: Product designer – Media Team
Ani Harutyunyan: Architect – Media Team
Lina Karapetyan: Architect – Media Team
Meline Bilbulyan: Geotechnical engineer – Finance Department/ Management Department
Razmik Ghazaryan: Architect – Workshop Department
Margarit Amirkhanyan: Architect – Media Team
Tatev Kartashyan: Architect – Legacy Department