For the last seven years, photographer Peter Ortner has been travalling around the former Soviet Union states such as Armenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan. However what he shoots may surprise you. Ortner has found some incredible and slightly bizarre pieces of architecture in the form of bus stops and they certainly do not adhere to the typical grey, brutalist architecture the Soviet Union is typically known for…
He began his journey following the Silk Road through central Asia and then went on to pass through Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, The Crimea Peninsula, Ukraine and Moldova. This mammoth journey allowed him to find some truly incredible bus stops dotted around seemingly at random.
Described as “jewels”, the bus stops were used as a form of expression and way of being free from the communist oppression at the time as Ortner explains,
“This underlines the autonomy of the republics and ostensibly goes against the centralism of Moscow…it seems as if a little free space for architecture opened up here, in the face of all centralistic planning.”
These brilliant little bus stops were found all over and he photographed 500 bus stops during his travels.
He found oriental ornamentation in central Asia, colourful pavilions in Uzbekistan, a canopy with a black and white striped bench along a Georgian military road near Caucasus and mosaic designs in Azerbaijan. We have to admit; we are rather envious of Ortner’s extraordinary journey but admits it was not always so easy. He would be interrupted by police or changing backdrops as he explains, “Owing to the large distances, the dense traffic in some places, and the escalating number of objects, mistakes occurred,” said Ortner.
“The light changed on the way from the central Asian steppe to rainy Moldova, along with the fauna and the surrounding landscape,” he continued.
“Local police authorities, parking taxis, or waiting people forced a break with the planned perfectibility and demanded improvisation.”
But he has clearly overcome any obstacles to create this project which exposes the culture and creativity of the Soviet Union that has gone unseen for all this time. Imagine how different the former Soviet Union countries would look today if all their architecture was like their bus stops!