communist replicas from the oldest Christian country

^ B/W: Photograph series of Armenian bus-stops in The Architecture of Waiting, 1997/2004 by Ursula Schulz-Dornburg.

Colour: Bus-stops in Burgos, Spain. Designed by H&deM, 2011. Photos by Ángel Ayala.


This week my hometown’s newspapers revealed that our recently built bus-stops designed by H&deM are indeed a direct replica of soviet ones erected in Armenia in 1970s. Apart from the banality of this interesting fact, together with the local anger caused by the high fees paid to the architects, I would like to make three small remarks to the excellent argumentation of the architects’ concept in their website:

< Instead of designing a Herzog & de Meuron bus shelter, we were inspired by the work of Ursula Schulz-Dornburg called “The Architectures of Waiting”. It is a series of photographs that she took in 1997 * of bus-stops in Armenia (the oldest Christian Country**). We have recreated some of these bus-stops in polished concrete and galvanized steel. Instead of being simply functional shelters, the beauty of these small structures is how they relate to the human body, and that they are sculptural and somewhat poetic social gathering places***. >

* There is no recognition to the soviet designer of the bus stops in the 1970s, but to the German photographer who took pictures of them in 1997. The inspiration is linked to the book where they were published. The image has completely erased the original architect: fewer problems with copyright in buildings. But it makes sense: if the ultimate author was the Soviet Union and it doesn’t exist anymore, there is total freedom to reuse the idea.

** It seems that the main reason for justifying their decision is that Armenia is the oldest Christian country in the world. Both Spain and Armenia appear to share tight religious connections, even if many Spaniards would have difficulties to locate Armenia accurately in a global map. This is a fantastic argument for copying a soviet bus-stop from the Armenian steppe and pasting it in the ‘Catholic’ Spanish steppe.

*** We copy Armenian bus-stops, even if they might look like ‘simply functional shelters’ (=boring). So H&deM upgrade them by declaring that, although they have almost 1:1 similar shape, they are nonetheless ‘poetic and gathering spaces relating to the human body’. Armenians alike, we are also Christians, so we need to believe it.


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