We Stop For Designer Bus Stops
Have you ever stopped to take a look around your neighborhood with the detail-oriented eye of a designer? You might be surprised at what you start noticing. Even the most mundane structures, the ones you see everyday without actually seeing them, can be visually interesting and unique additions to their environment. Take the humble bus stop.
Bus stops are, at their core, practical structures meant to provide shelter from the elements for short periods of time. That's why most bus stops you see will be nothing more than a covered bench; however, take a closer look. You might see how local communities have taken this very basic design and given it their own spin. Above is a very simple prototype bus shelter from Bevk Perovic arhitekti in Slovenia.
Now take a look at the bus stop located outside the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. As one would expect, it's very sleek and streamlined in that modernist way, but observing with a more critical eye we see that in lieu of a bench, visitors sit on Eiffel Wire Chairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames. An unusual choice, but a fitting one for museum goers who've just spent the day exploring the history of design.
Using public transportation is one of the most "green" things you can do, but did you know that even bus stops themselves can be eco-friendly? Project Bottlestop is the work of a University of Kentucky design student. It's a bus stop constructed out of soft drink bottles that have been equipped with solar powered LED lights. During the day, sunlight filters through the bottles in a manner similar to that of stained glass, while at night the stop is gently illuminated by the stored up solar energy.
The YBR Bus Shelter designed by Eliel Cabrera is also an eco-friendly project with a technological twist. The concept is totally adaptable to the needs of the environment and includes the ability to communicate with mobile phones to send out route and schedule information. Solar panels and other "green" materials can be used to construct the stop.
The YBR project is similar to the EyeStop, an Italian concept that takes the idea of a bus stop as a meeting point, a sort of old-fashioned social network, to the next level. Like the YBR shelter, the solar-powered Eyestop offers integrated mobile phone technology to share route information.
But it also allows commuters to post ads and announcements, as well as transmit information about air quality and other environmental factors. EyeStop was designed specifically for the city of Florence, but we'd love to see bus stops like this popping up all over the world.
Old-school bus stops can be just as interesting as modern ones: check out this Cuban bus shelter. It was built in the 1930s and has that futuristic look we associate with deco. Due to Cuba's political history, the only cars you're likely to see while waiting were built in the 1950s, making this bus stop a time machine of sorts.
A very pretty bus stop in Estonia. We love the pentagon shape, steep roof (most likely meant to keep snow from piling up in the winter), and the contrasting red and white paint. It's almost like a little cottage.
The shape of bus stops can tell you something about the area they're located in. On the right you see an Australian bus stop that's located near an Indian restaurant. On the left, a bus stop in Russia that is clearly a remnant of the Soviet era.
Photographer Christopher Herwig has an entire series dedicated to the bus shelters of the Soviet Union. While many of the shelters were cold concrete structures like the one above, Herwig dedicates a large part of his series to the "weird and crazy" ways in which the stops were decorated by local communities to reflect culture and heritage.
Most of these stops are now being allowed to detoriate, but some communities are making efforts to preserve them. Check out the entire series on Herwig's website.
This Amernian bus stop goes back to basics. No benches, just a slab of metal to shelter commuters from the rain and an interesting piece of metalworking holding the slab aloft. Perhaps children use this stop as a makeshift jungle gym while waiting for the bus.
But why should design always be so serious? These fruit-shaped bus stops in Japan are adorable and would definitely make waiting for the bus a more whimsical experience, especially when contrasted with the run-of-the-mill city streets they're located on.
Caribou Coffee in Minneapolis had a similar idea. They turned a regular city bus stop into a mini-toaster oven. Heat actually emits from the coils, giving commuters a bit of warmth and a new appreciation for breakfast sandwiches.
Finally, parts of several bright yellow school buses from the 60s and 70s are recycled into a fun bus shelter in Athens, Georgia. Now that's what us architecture-types would call a great example of form following function! MT