Of all of the creative adaptive reuse architecture in the world, these old train cars converted into Russian churches are some of the strangest things most patrons have probably ever seen – a combination of a conventional symbol of modern transportation with an age-old religious institution is anything but a natural structural fit or obvious redesign choice.
In some cases, these church conversions involve a fast-and-simple facade that bear the traditional symbols and materials of a church front but give way to an anything-but-ordinary religious space within.
While they may seem desolate and distant in some cases they are clearly at times at the center of active religious communities who perhaps cannot afford to build a brand-new structure.
It is clear that though the trappings of typical religious buildings can be added to these unused train cars there is no way to easily convert them to their new purpose entirely without showing many signs of their previous lives.
Nonetheless, some of the results are surprisingly convincing when they involve camouflaging the building and blending materials like wood with old rusted paint jobs and putting up fences to mask the appearance of the structure from a distance. (Photos from EnglishRussia).
More info from Russia Beyond:
“Train churches appeared in the Russian Empire in the late 19th century. A bell gable, consisting of a cross and three bells, was placed above the front door of the carriage and a huge iron staircase connected the platform to the bell tower. Until 1917 some train churches were specially built for the north of Russia, more specifically for Siberia and the Urals.”
“The Russian Orthodox Church currently has around 10 train churches which are used to transport holy shrines and hold sermons. These carriages can be attached to regular trains and train destined for a pilgrimage site, for example. A train church, just like a regular church, contains an altar, iconostasis, and a small bell. There’s even a small library inside.”