KEVIN BERESFORD is not your typical sexagenarian. The 63-year-old resident of Redditch in the UK is extremely enthusiastic about ‘roundabouts’—those ubiquitous ‘traffic islands’ built to be a purely functional way of managing vehicular movement and which most motorists wouldn’t look twice at—so much so that he has spotted thousands of them from around the world since 2003.
Twelve of these roundabouts have now made their way into a special 2016 calendar that Beresford’s UK-based Roundabout Appreciation Society has designed—and they draw inspiration from all over the world, including the US, Australia, New Zealand, South America and Europe.
For the calendar, Beresford asked fellow roundabout-lovers for their ideas before putting them all together in the niche product. Among the chosen ones is the Railway Roundabout in Hobart, Australia, which fought off competition from millions of others across the globe. Originally built for the city’s main railway station, it features a mesmerising colour-changing space-age fountain and garden for pedestrians.
The Railway Roundabout fended off competition from a slightly odd offering from Morbier in eastern France. The roundabout features a giant wooden carving of a wheel of Morbier cheese—the local delicacy. It also features a ‘grandfather clock’ made mainly out of plants.
Although the society is based in Britain, only one UK effort made the cut. The Otford roundabout in Kent boasts a listed duck pond in the middle. The picturesque pond is thought to date back to Anglo-Saxon times, when it was used as a watering hole for local animals. It is thought to be the only roundabout to feature a duck pond in the middle, known to locals as ‘Duckingham Palace’.
Two of the 12 roundabouts feature dolphins—dancing in the winning entrant from Pataya, Thailand, and swimming in the case of Algarve, Portugal. Then there is the Chavez roundabout in Managua, Venezuela, which features the image of former president Hugo Rafael Chavez. The ‘Sculpture’ roundabout in Switzerland is an entwined sculpture on a grassy mound in the mountains. The Sekigata roundabout in Shizuoka, Japan, chosen by Beresford, is one of the few in the country.
Interestingly, the Pearl roundabout in Manama, Bahrain, was destroyed by the government in 2011. The pearl structure consisted of six supports holding a giant pearl. The six supports represented the Gulf Co-operation Council’s six member nations, while the pearl symbolised their united heritage and the country’s famous history of pearl cultivation.
Some are enormous, like the 118-ft-tall victory column featured in the Angel of Independence roundabout in Mexico City and the giant mosque on a winning entry from Karachi, Pakistan.
Beresford believes there are ‘zen qualities’ to roundabouts. “Each one has a magical individuality. Each one has a story to tell. Each one is a mosaic shrouded in exhaust fumes. It’s a green oasis in a sea of tarmac, that’s the way I look at them,” Beresford was quoted as saying in a media report.