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Works That Work, No.6,

Roadside Attractions

by Christopher Herwig (631 words)

The unexpectedly diverse and beautiful bus stops of the former USSR, lovingly documented by photographer Christopher Herwig.

The former Soviet Union was a vast amalgamation of 15 republics stretching from the Gulf of Finland in the north to the border of Iran in the south, and from the Pacific Ocean in the east to the border of Czechoslovakia in the west. And though life there was highly centralised, there were also unique, imaginative expressions of its diverse peoples and places to be found. Among them, perhaps surprisingly, were bus stops.

Cars were a luxury that few Soviet citizens could afford, but the public transportation system was highly developed and widely celebrated, and bus routes reached even the most remote corners of the country. Architecture students were often assigned bus stops as one of their first independent projects and encouraged to create something never before seen. Free from the usual rules and prohibitions of Soviet style, imaginations could run wild as designers strove to reflect the national colours of their cultures, producing an incredible variety of forms and structures.

The bus stops caught the eye of Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig on his 2002 bicycle trip from London to St Petersburg, launching a 12-year project that would take him to 13 countries. The project culminated in the book Soviet Bus Stops (FUEL Publishing, 2015) that represents over 30,000 kilometres of epic road trips.

The bus stops (or ‘bus pavilions’, as they were respectfully called) captured in his book are not lacking in grandeur or audacity. Many of them are no longer in service, but provide convenient meeting points where people in remote, pub-less areas come together to hang out, converse and share their favourite beverages.

Etchmiadzin, Armenia

Čornaje, Belarus

Pitsunda, Abkhazia

Taraz, Kazakhstan

Aralsk, Kazakhstan

Shymkent, Kazakhstan

Kaunas, Lithuania

Rokiskis, Lithuania

Saratak, Armenia

With 20 years of experience in over 90 countries, Christopher Herwig is a Canadian-born photographer and videographer determined to find beauty and inspiration in all aspects of life.

This article comes from Works That Work magazine, No.6.
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