Tag: soviet

Pre-fabulous: Flower Pots

A study of prefabricated and moulded concrete. Part 2. 

A few weeks ago, I started a study of ‘Soviet concrete with a highly unscientific study of the pre-fabricated concrete fence.

Inspired by what I discovered, this week I ventured forth into Kyiv’s city jungle to study the fence’s small cousin – the flower pot.


In Russian 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”

In the Soviet Union it seems that they were big fans of prefabricating things from concrete and also of factory moulding various other objects. 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. This week I explored the moulded flower pots.


Like the pre-fab fences, you might not notice these little concrete monuments when you first arrive in the city, but they are so ridiculously common that once you have noticed them – you wont be able to leave the house without spotting them on the street. The positive effect they have on the city is somewhat amplified by the dizzying colours in which they are painted. In fact, I suspect the Ukrainian obsession with uber-bright colourful paint is, in part, a rebellion against the grey monotony of this multifaceted material.

I discovered that most of the pot designs are available either as a full square or as a smaller half-square oblong pot. There are also round designs and vase-style pots which people are obviously very proud of because they are the most well painted.  By far the most common pot is the small ‘half-moon’ and after this, the similar ‘apple core’ design.

Here’s a small number of Kyiv pots for you to enjoy. Please bare in mind that I made myself look like a complete idiot  photographing these for you.

Sometimes they are used for grass and even trees

The Kyiv city administration building has them, but as you can see, they are especially decorative.

The full square

Two half-square ‘look at me, I’ve been painted’ pots. They have the four stripe design.

Some shop owners do not care for their concrete pots, leaving them unloved and flowerless.

Flower pot meets abstract art

The ‘Big Boss’ squared pot

Such is the level of respect for concrete, that moulded pots may be used to bare witness to business contracts.

Cute pink paint can be used to camouflage the pot’s role as guardian of the street. This pot stops SUVs from invading the residential street.

More pot-modernism that nobody understands, or cares for

The common ‘winged’ pot

End view of the common winged pot

The ‘half-moon’ on the left is the smallest and most common pot. Here it stands proud next to a painted vase-type pot.

The 4×4. For sides, four stripes, four colours

Creative use of the ‘half moon’ pots

Another ‘pinky’ stands alone but unashamed near Klovska metro

Some pot are big and round

…most are painted in dazzling colours

Fresh green plants compensate for the tired paintwork

A single happy flower sits proudly in her huge golden throne.


NB. This post is special birthday dedication for Sanela ‘funny name’ Stanišič. Многая Літа!! 

Old, cute, kitschy, cool

This week I’ve been exploring the weird and wonderful world that is Kyiv‘s left bank.

Like many foreigners here, I have to admit I spend way too much time in the city centre and view the left bank with a certain amount of suspicion and intrigue.

So, on Thursday I joined a mini tour of a left bank waste recycling centre with my journalist friend Jerom.  After the tour, our guide showed us the factory museum. It was a magnificent collection of old Ukrainian/Soviet artefacts.

As you can see, the left bank is full of surprises…


The full set of pictures is 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.

Moving Pictures from the USSR. Part 2

Here it is, part 2 of my brief and uneducated exploration of animation from the USSR.

First up, we have Slow Bistro. The name is (I assume intentionally) ironic because the word ‘Bistro’ comes from the Russian word ‘bistra’ which means ‘quick’ …the video is amusingly abstract and it reminds me of so many Bearder family dinners. This one could quite easily be about Bicester School.

Next we have the funny and beautifully well defined Masyanya. What can I say? – I know many-many Masyanyas.

Here we have some more modern (web-type) animations called ‘Vs’ …they short, simple, stupid and have cool sound effects. You can watch loads more on youtube.

Back to the oldskool stuff, we have “Prostokvashino or Buttermilk Village which is set in a a fictional rural village in Moscow Oblast of Russia (Russian: Простоквашино, from простоквашa, prostokvasha, buttermilk). Due to immense popularity of the cartoon the geographic name came into real life, and some Russian villages and city neighborhoods got this unofficial name, sometimes reflected in the names of bus stops, stores etc.”

The cartoon also captures the Russian/Ukrainian personalities perfectly. Proof (if ever you need it) that woman rule this part of the world and will always get what they want …after a tantrum 😉
I see the cat grinning at me every morning from the label on my milk bottle.

Magic flower” (1948). The stuff that Soviet dreams are made of…

There are singing cats (and noisy people) in ‘Cat Concert’

and finally, here’s a powerfully simple look at war from a country that’s been subject to an awful lot of it.

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