These Soviet bus stops are oddly beautiful

Christopher Herwig didn’t plan on taking 9,000 photographs of bus stops across Central Asia, but that’s how the last 23 years have panned out.

A small fraction of those photos — taken in places like Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, and Ukraine — now make up the pages of Herwig’s new book, “Soviet Bus Stops.”

Each stop reimagines the simple construction of a bench encased by glass. Even in the middle of nowhere, they are functional pieces of art.

“People get this feeling that something’s been discovered,” Herwig says, “even if it’s sitting out in plain view.”

The disputed region of Abkhazia lies adjacent to Georgia. Though many have never heard of the region, Herwig says it contains many of his favourites from the collection.

Christopher Herwig

Like this one, whose architect skipped designing a roof on artistic principle, Herwig says. 'It's just so monumental.'

Christopher Herwig

Elsewhere in Abkhazia the designs are slightly more industrial.

Christopher Herwig

In Kazakhstan, a bus stop resembling a mosque was erected beside a now-dried-up lake.

Christopher Herwig

Much of the small-scale architecture in the country is designed with religious imagery in mind, Herwig says.

Christopher Herwig

In these desolate areas, most of the structures can be dozens of miles from the nearest town or bus stop, he explains.

Christopher Herwig

Often out of necessity, they are built from local materials. In Estonia, they are made of wood.

Christopher Herwig

Other stops use specific colour schemes to add a local flair.

Christopher Herwig

In contrast to Estonia, the Belarus bus stops are typically fashioned from stone.

Christopher Herwig

Shape also plays a big role, Herwig says ...

Christopher Herwig

... as many of the Belarusian bus stops are triangular in design.

Christopher Herwig

Other structures are given their own flair with murals and tile mosaics.

Christopher Herwig

'In Ukraine, if there were a lot of sunflowers around, you'd have a bus stop with sunflowers on it,' Herwig says. Local history and culture also made their way into the stops.

Christopher Herwig

In Kyrgyzstan, for example, a dove's wings served as the shelter. 'That's one of the more far-stretching interpretations of a bus stop I've seen,' Herwig says. 'I quite like it.'

Christopher Herwig

Others, like in Armenia's Saratak village, take a simpler approach.

Christopher Herwig

Herwig came across numerous bus stops in the country, he says.

Christopher Herwig

Including this one.

Christopher Herwig

And this one.

Christopher Herwig

And this one, located about 70 miles away in the Armenian capital city of Yerevan.

Christopher Herwig

But his favourite overall is located in the Kazakhstan city of Taraz. 'It kind of looks like a dog,' Herwig says.

Christopher Herwig

In Lithuania sits a similar design, just on a smaller scale.

Christopher Herwig

No matter if it's a simple shoebox design with pastel colours or something more complex, Herwig says, the shelters are designed to delight people.

Christopher Herwig

'People seem to really appreciate it,' he says. 'I'm happy I can bring an underdog piece of art out to the forefront.'

Christopher Herwig

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