Back in the U.S.S.R.

German photographer Peter Ortner has spent seven years documenting 500 bus stops across former Soviet countries, including a triangular pavilion, a winged shelter and several colorful mosaic designs.

© Peter Ortner

Ortner visited seven former-Soviet territories including Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, The Crimea Peninsula, Ukraine and Moldova to create the Back in the USSR photo series. Unlike the grey concrete buildings often associated with socialist architecture built throughout the 20th century, Ortner found an eclectic, colourful micro-architecture that emerged on the roadside.

© Peter Ortner

Described as “jewels”, the bus stops allowed the architects to experiment free from the pressures of socialist Moscow. “This underlines the autonomy of the republics and ostensibly goes against the centralism of Moscow,” said Ortner. “It seems as if a little free space for architecture opened up here, in the face of all centralist planning.”


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