Tag: Soviet Union

Look after your heart. A peek inside the NAS hospital in Kyiv

‘At least they have a healthcare infrastructure’ explained Anna, who works for thye World Health Organisation, as we stumbled home after England’s EURO 2012 win over Ukraine.

‘In Indonesia and Thailand’ she said, ‘nobody has ever built one’.

It might be old and outdated, but this is true – Ukraine does have an extensive healthcare system and, at least in Kyiv, those with money can be treated in what Ukrainians would call ‘Western standard’ hospitals.

Sadly, those without money don’t have that luxury. If you are a teacher for instance or a boffin with a bad heart, you might end up in the National Acadamy of Sciences hospital in Podil.

A spooky doctor watches us from a balcony of the NAS hospital in Podil.

Actually, I don’t know if it is in Podil, but it sits on a hill that links Podil to the city centre and I’ve always wondered what the view would be like from the top floor of its tall concrete buildings.

I mentioned this to Monika, a Polish couch-surfer who was staying with me a few weeks ago. We were walking up the hill at the start of my well trodden ‘tour de Kyiv’ and without hesitating she said ‘lets go’.

‘OK’ I said,‘why not’…’
‘but I think they have security’

This wasn’t a problem, because he (the ‘security’) wasn’t securing anything. I’m not even sure if he was alive.

So, we walked straight on in, through the back door and into the lift. It was quite an adventure (if you like weird old buildings like me) and a sobering insight into the realities of Ukraine’s less-than-healthy hospitals.

Here’s what we found…

The rooms, like the patients, are in need of treatment.

The reception service wasn’t too ‘hot’ …but had it been better, we might not have been allowed in.

There are two old lifts. One for the doctors and one for the patients.

The lifts worked (albeit with a loud noise) but the buttons were quite grim. This one had a hole in it.

As you exit the lift, the windows have been painted with images/graphics to indicate where you are. On this floor there was a gym.

…for your heart?


There were people in the hospital, and nobody seemed to mind us being there. Two foreigners with a camera wasn’t a problem.

This is my favourite picture. Two cult-like figures float in a blue forest behind a flower pot. I’m curious why/how they were semi-defaced?

Outside, someone with a sense of humour but very little imagination has been expressing themselves.

…and finally, the view from the top. Yes, it was amazing.

Podil, as seen from the top of the NAS hospital.

The rest of the pictures are available here:

Pre-fabulous: Fences

A study of prefabricated concrete.

Smile. Pre-fab fences can be used for shade and for hanging bags on

In Russian and Ukrainian the word ‘fabrika’ means factory. In English, we use a similar word ‘fabricated‘ to mean ‘constructed’ or ‘made’.

‘Prefabricated’ or simply ‘pre-fab‘ is “to manufacture in standardised sections, ready for quick assembly”

Now, it is well known that the only thing that aroused Europe’s communist leaders more than power was concrete, and in the Soviet Union it seems that they were big fans of prefabricating things with this dull yet versatile material. As a result it is almost impossible to move in Ukraine without passing a concrete tribute to their soviet past.

I decided to explore some of the most common concrete objects, starting with the ubiquitous pre-fab concrete fence.

Here’s what I found.

Pre-fab fences often have decorative tops and security wire

Some pre-fab fences have lines

You can paint the concrete pink

This is not a pre-fabricated fence. It is a Lada

Flat concrete fences are good for graffiti

You can use them as a table for beer

Some are just flat

This is a fence + a car because just fences can get quite boring

Babushkas know a lot about concrete fences

This is a middle-class, trendy, concrete fence. It’s embossed AND painted.

Nice paintwork

The traditional or ‘common’ embossed pre-fab makes a nice back-drop for a shrine.

The traditional or ‘common’ embossed pre-fab

Brrrruum. Pre-fab concrete keeps cars away from your home.

The ‘common’ embossed fence is ‘Kool’

A close-up of the ‘common’ embossed fence.

A lively-pink ‘common’ embossed fence.

A ‘common’ embossed fence protects a pre-fabricated apartment from the grass

Please focus on the cars, not the men. What they are doing may be illegal.

Pre-fab + tram + tree = beauty

A man tries to hide his excitement as he walks past a decorative ‘diamond’ concrete fence.

The decorative ‘diamond’ concrete fence uses a simple pattern to create a stunning visual effect which also lets people see through to the other side.

Concrete fences and plants are not natural friends, however some times they develop loving relationships

The ‘diamond’ fence creates stunning visual angles which are very popular with photographers.

Some people do not care for their concrete.

Others draw cartoons on them

Real men like concrete and 4×4 jeeps

This design is called the ‘circle’. Sometimes the circles are holes, sometimes not.

A nice example of the ‘circle’

Is it a brick wall?

…of course not. Its a fabulous pre-fab!

This is the last car, I promise. Look at those wheels!!

I saved the best until last. Ladies and gentlemen – I introduce ‘Arches’

‘Arches’ is an old design, but remains a classic symbol of style

If I owned a property in Ukraine, I would definitely want to have pre-fabricated concrete arches. Other pre-fabs don’t even come close.

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