Page C1.1 . 20 August 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Postcard from Ukraine

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The Adziogol Lighthouse by Vladimir Schuchov. Photography by Matt Bridgestock.

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Dear ArchitectureWeek,

On my round-the-world bicycle tour, I passed through the south of Ukraine and stopped at the lively town of Kherson. It sits on the Dnper River delta as it empties into the Black Sea and is an important part of the former soviet shipping network, linking the Mediterranean Sea to the industrial cities in the heart of Ukraine.

Fifty miles (80 kilometers) southwest of the town on a tiny island in the delta, lies the Adziogol Lighthouse, an important beacon for ships navigating the tangle of sandbanks. Built in 1911, this steel structure is a fine example of how elegance and ingenuity can be added to an otherwise utilitarian construction.

Designed by Vladimir Schuchov, the lighthouse appears, from a distance, to be a very slender column topped by a beacon. The main 223-foot- (68-meter-) high structure is a light circular steel web, tapering through a curve to the small beacon housing. Slender vertical members wrap around the column in a hyperbolic paraboloid, forming an open helical mesh. This gives the appearance of transparency from a distance but complexity and interest when viewed from passing boats. At the center of the web is a steel stair tower, giving a sense of solidity to the otherwise delicate structure.

The base of the tower meets the sea in a haze of bushes and sea spray, almost hiding the keeper's white-washed cottage. The adventure of getting to this building was well worth it. While there is some disappointment in its rusting state, it is clearly a cut above many utilitarian, former soviet buildings.

On the road in the Ukraine,
Matt Bridgestock

This was one stop of World on Wheels, a journey begun in April 2003, by a few young British designers. Now traveling solo, Matt Bridgestock will circumnavigate the globe by bicycle, recording architectural and urban spaces as he goes.

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