With the sheer vastness of the travel blogging world it seems incredible that there remains a subject yet to be celebrated for all the richness it truly deserves. Thus I hereby right the wrong of that criminally neglected, artistic treasure that is the electricity substation. I can only hope that others take up the baton in promoting the profoundly inspiring, cultural genius represented in these creations from other parts of the world.
The lush patina of rust off sets beautifully the proud formality of battleship grey paint creating a subtle liaison between the foliage and the cement of the background wall. Azeri art lovers have rightfully placed this among the pantheon of historical highlights of any tour of the country, bizarrely remaining unmentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide to the region.
Never ones to be shy in the bold use of colour the Tajik Electricity Board is well known for its daring use of government surplus paint stocks.
Whilst only a subtle variation on the classic Soviet design has been chosen here, the Turkmen government department for Power Supply Aesthetics has embraced the environmental age and used a dainty shade of verdant green, in tribute to its location at the entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Parthian Fortress at Nisa. It’s this dedication to modern values of a sustainable environment and historical conservation which merit a well deserved top ten placing.
A pristine example of the Tajik Nouveau Ecole of Shed and a delightful contrast to the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan behind. The brave roof frame stylings are a unique regional feature and protected by legal statute No.837b: The Preservation of Electrical Distribution Features Act 1993.
The classic design of Soviet Expressionlessism takes on modern dimensions, yet blends almost seamlessly with the traditional yurts in the park behind.
Not only does the country excel in rural toilet design but it luxuriates in a plethora of imaginative substation architectural styles. Here applying post modernism to the genre with an elegant use of wooden posts and modern transformer technology. Elsewhere timber remains a neglected material but in Tajikistan, heritage and electricity distribution go hand in hand.
This region has always been culturally part of Central Asia but now the Chinese Government is firmly stamping their mark onto the electricity world and taking things to a whole new and exciting level. This could be the shape of things to come, boldly challenging traditional values both in format and cleaning schedules.
The country may be on the edge of Central Asia but its classic substation designs are at the heart of the action. The textured Ferric Oxide finish employed here is the envy of the region. Note how, unlike other countries, the caring government uses a hazard warning notice, despite deaths being limited to a few dozen elsewhere it is a reassuring sign that they are prepared to go just that little bit further to protect their citizens.
After a sadly under recognized career in 1960’s science fiction movies Gorgo returned to his home town of Moynaq in northern Uzbekistan where his tireless devotion to the electrical needs of the population have earned him much respect.
The unbridled majesty of this masterpiece surely warrants a museum of its own but sadly languishes alone on a wind swept hillside, neglected by its government, blind to the creative flair of this visionary work by the Soviet Steel Miscellaneous Power Generation Structures Committee whose cooperative efforts wrote the rule book for substation design. I will be setting up a registered charity for the Preservation of Indiginous Soviet Substations to collect funds to protect and restore forgotten gems such as this and bring them to their rightful place in art galleries, before private collectors snatch them up to deny us the pleasure that is so richly deserved.