Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig travelled through the length and breadth of the former Soviet Union to document a curious phenomenon that he had stumbled upon more than a decade ago while on a cycling trip across Europe — bus stops. These strange little shelters are brimming with architectural styles that’s unlike anything you have ever seen anywhere else. There are pyramids and arches, domes and vaults and other improbable structures.
The remarkable diversity and creativity displayed in these bus stops is even more strange when you consider the fact that they belong to a regime that is usually associated with Brutalist architecture. And this is exactly the reason why you will find such elaborate bus stops nowhere else but the Soviet Union. These roadside pavilions were the precious opportunities for local artists and architects to express themselves and break free of the monotony in architecture.
The bus stop was one of the few building types that had a certain amount of autonomy from the centralized planning machine. Indeed, it was a government stipulation that they should be beautiful and reflect a local aesthetic. This allowed architects to flex their creativity.
Georgian sculptor and architect Zurab Tsereteli, who designed some of the most elaborate structures around Pitsunda on the Black Sea, recalls, “I suggested that these bus stops shouldn’t be about just a frame, glass and seating. People should get pleasure out of them. We decided they should be monumental art in space,” he told The Guardian. Zurab Tsereteli is now a celebrated Moscow-based artist and president of the Russian Academy of Arts.
It took Christopher Herwig twelve years to photograph hundreds of bus stops during which he travelled to 14 countries and covered more than 30,000 km. These photographs have now been assembled into a limited edition, hardcover photo book, that will be launched in September 2015.
Subscribe to our Newsletter and get articles like this delieverd straight to your inbox