I would normally be reluctant to offer you the much over used format of a top ten for travel experiences but certain subjects offer such a profound insight into a culture that they are impossible to ignore and warrant all means of publicising their grandeur. Back home the humble toilet may be dismissed to the realms of dull functionality but in Tajikistan they represent the pinnacle of rural architectural expression, rendered even more poignant by the Tajik people’s own inability to grasp the practical skills required to operate the complex operational demands of these waste systems.
Classic, minimalist, whitewashed design, exhibiting clear Afghan influences from its location on the Tajik-Afghan border. Its main users, the border guards have demonstrated their pride in its stunning aesthetics by adding a delicate garden path motif in elegant weathered stones, hauled in from yards away, to lead to the hallowed portal. Jealous local shepherds are deterred at gunpoint from desecrating such a noble shrine.
Vernacular architecture at its finest from the north-western region, where structural elegance supercedes attention to detail in finishing qualities, lending to a solidity of form rarely found elsewhere. This twinned format has consistently proved itself by winning the Tajikistan Fly Breeders Award seven years in a row.
If you had been wondering where all the asbestos sheeting from Europe went after legislation banned its use for reasons of health and safety, it was all sent to Tajikistan, where it is still in vogue for cutting edge creations such as this one. Note how it blends almost seamlessly into the background of thorn bushes, whilst avoiding an unappealing clash with the agricultural foreground. This delicate balance of textural forms is indicative of the thought that local designers put into their schemes.
Dry stone walling taken to a higher art form, complimenting beautifully the natural surroundings but with the vivid splash of red cloth demonstrating that Tajiks are prepared to take bold artistic risks.
A rare breeding pair, displaying clearly their male and female characteristics. Environmental concerns are not lost on Tajiks, as the fertilising benefits of the outflow have been used to hugely increase productivity from the vegetable garden.
The timeless appeal of this simple design has led to such levels of popularity that the locals have to queue along with the livestock to appreciate its subtle conceptual purity.
Heedless of modern obsessions with angular regularity, this carefree, wooden format heaps disdain on the potentially fatal precipice behind it. The concrete formation in front is actually an integral feature: the night-time trip hazard for tourists has provided much entertainment for the locals, thankful that regular snowfalls soon cover their bodies.
The sophisticated clean lines of this construction belie the progressive nature of the internal design, whereby both male and female sides have a pair of toilet holes in the floor, so that friends and family members can remain sociable throughout the process. One individual, overawed by the visionary nature of the design, had left a deposit in between the holes rather than in them, but such is the nature of things when one is pushing the envelope of modern architectural excellence.
This audacious juxtaposition of materials, both ancient and modern surely points the way forward in contemporary, excremental architecture. It’s this kind of audacious thinking that puts the Tajiks at the forefront of reconceptualising the genre.
This triumph of ventilation over thermal efficiency can only be given the top spot as it offers a fine view of the neighbour’s dining area and a challenging, rocky exit slope for disabled users. Unhindered by finance, the owners have offered a multi sensory experience suffused with rustic charm.