Soviet Bus Stops via Facebook
Soviet Bus Stops via Facebook

Bizarrely Beautiful Bus Stops From the Soviet Era

Soviet Bus Stops via Facebook
Soviet Bus Stops via Facebook

Most architecture from the Soviet Union can be described as uniform, functional, and austere. That’s why so many bus stops leftover from the era look shockingly out-of-place in comparison. 

In a time when conformity was the law of the land, these structures provided a rare outlet for creative expression. Local artists were free to design creations as imaginative as they pleased, varying in shape, size, and medium. One mosaic structure in the coastal town of Gagra, Abkhazia, resembles a tall wave curling into a protective overhang above the bus stop stools. Another in Astana, Kazakhstan, features the iconic hammer and sickle symbol juxtaposed with blue snowflakes and red stars.

Public transportation was a significant part of life in the Soviet Union. Not only were busses and trains a sign of unification, they were also a symbol of national progress. By the mid-'80s, busses accounted for close to 44 percent of the country’s traffic. Many citizens spent a good deal of time waiting at bus stops, and these colorful structures broke up the otherwise desolate landscapes that cover much of the former Soviet Union.

A new book of photography titled Soviet Bus Stops is now available to order on Amazon. It’s the result of Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig’s 12-year journey through 13 countries that previously fell behind the Iron Curtain. Since the Soviet Union dissolved nearly 25 years ago, many of the bus stops have fallen into disrepair. Whether or not they're still standing 10, 25, or 100 years from now, Herwig’s photography will remain a testament to some of the most unique works of art to ever emerge from the Soviet Union. 

Soviet Bus Stop of the day. Astana, Kazakhstan Photo by Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Monday, March 10, 2014

Soviet Bus Stop of the day, Naelavere, ESTONIA. Photo by Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Sunday, March 9, 2014

Soviet Bus Stop of the day - Airport, Paltova, Ukraine, 2013, photo by Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Saturday, March 8, 2014

Soviet Bus Stop of the day. Pitsunda, Abkhazia, 2013. Photo by Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Friday, March 7, 2014

Soviet Bus Stop of the day. Lake Sevan, Armenia 2013 Photo by Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Soviet Bus Stop of the Day. Merv, Turkmenistan, 2005 Photo by: Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Saturday, March 1, 2014

In Abkhazia, down the road from Sochi, Russia.

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Monday, February 24, 2014

In Abkhazia, down the road from Sochi, Russia.

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Monday, February 24, 2014


[h/t: Foreign Policy]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Norway Opens Another Spectacular Roadside Bathroom
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen

Norway’s National Tourist Routes will change how you think about rest stops. As part of a decades-long program, the Norwegian government has been hiring architects and designers to create beautiful roadside lookouts, bathrooms, and other amenities for travelers along 18 scenic highways throughout the country. One of the latest of the projects unveiled, spotted by Dezeen, is a glitzy restroom located on the Arctic island of Andøya in northern Norway.

The facility, designed by the Oslo-based Morfeus Arkitekter, is located near a rock formation called Bukkekjerka, once used as a sacrificial site by the indigenous Sami people. The angular concrete and steel structure is designed to fit in with the jagged mountains that surround it.

The mirrored exterior wall of the bathroom serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it reflects the scenery around the building, helping it blend into the landscape. But it also has a hidden feature. It’s a one-way mirror, allowing those inside the restroom to have a private view out over the ocean or back into the mountains while they pee.

The newly landscaped rest area near the bathroom will serve as an event space in the future. The Bukkekjerka site is already home to an annual open-air church service, and with the new construction, the space will also be used for weddings and other events. Because this is the Arctic Circle, though, the restroom is only open in the late spring and summer, closing from October to May. Check it out in the photos below.

A bathroom nestled in a hilly landscape
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

The mirrored facade of a rest stop reflects concrete steps leading down a pathway.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A person stands outside the bathroom's reflective wall.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A wide view of a rest stop at the base of a coastal mountain
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Trine Kanter Zerwekh / Statens vegvesen

[h/t Dezeen]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Snøhetta
Norway's New Hotel in the Arctic Circle Will Produce More Energy Than It Uses
Snøhetta
Snøhetta

A new hotel coming to Norway’s section of the Arctic Circle will be more than just a place to stay for a stunning fjord view. The Svart hotel, which is being billed as the world’s first "energy-positive" hotel, is designed to “set a new standard in sustainable travel,” according to Robb Report.

Built by a tourism company called Arctic Adventure Norway and designed by Snøhetta, an international architecture firm headquartered in Oslo, it’s one of the first buildings created according to the standards of Powerhouse, a coalition of firms (including Snøhetta) devoted to putting up buildings that will produce more power over the course of 60 years than they take to build, run, and eventually demolish. It will be located on a fjord at the base of Svartisen, one of the largest glaciers on Norway’s mainland and part of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park.

A hotel stretches out above the water of a fjord.
Snøhetta

The design of the hotel is geared toward making the facility as energy-efficient as possible. The architects mapped how the Sun shines through the mountains throughout the year to come up with the circular structure. When the Sun is high in the winter, the terraces outside the rooms provide shadows that reduce the need for air conditioning, while the windows are angled to catch the low winter Sun, keeping the building warm during cold Arctic winters. In total, it is expected to use 85 percent less energy than a traditional hotel.

The sun reflects off the roof of a hotel at the base of a glacier on a sunny day.
Snøhetta

Svart will also produce its own energy through rooftop solar panels, though it won’t have excess energy on hand year-round. Since it’s located in the Arctic Circle, the hotel will have an abundance of sunlight during the summer, at which point it will sell its excess energy to the local electricity grid. In the winter, when it’s too dark for solar energy production, the hotel will buy energy back from the grid. Over the course of the year, it will still produce more energy than it uses, and over time, it will eventually produce enough excess energy to offset the energy that was used to build the structure (including the creation of the building materials).

“Building in such a precious environment comes with some clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site,” Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen explains in the firm’s description of the design. “Building an energy-positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features” of the area.

Svart is set to open in 2021.

[h/t Robb Report]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios