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]

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]


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