Offering little more than rudimentary shelter, bus stop infrastructure is typically utilitarian, and not exactly a paragon of design. But as mobile technology becomes ubiquitous around the world, today’s modern bus stop is being designed to do a lot more than just protect commuters from the elements.
In Singapore, the Jurong East bus stop offers amenities commonly found in coffee shops, libraries and homes. There is a book exchange corner where riders can read print copies of books from writers like Ray Bradbury and Enid Blyton, or access a roster of e-books from the National Library by scanning a QR code.
Riders can also charge their devices at a charging station and access important information on arrival times, weather, news and local events on digital boards (solar panels situated on top of the bus stop serve as an energy source). Additionally, there is bike parking and even an art installation by local illustrator Lee Xin Li. But the most notable feature of the Jurong East bus stop is perhaps its swing.
A team of architects led by DP Architects designed the bus stop under one simple premise: to “make waiting fun.” And indeed, there are bus stops all over the world that have been designed to make the experience of waiting for the bus more entertaining.
Here are four bus stops around the world that have elevated the standard commuter experience.
"Riders can also charge their devices and access important information on arrival times, weather, news and local events on digital boards…"
When the Madrid-based art collective Mmmm were designing their concept for a public art sculpture in Baltimore, they initially came up with an idea that was as large as it was literal: a giant sculpture of the word BUS. While they originally rejected the idea for being too “obvious,” it later occurred to Mmmm that they had just conceived of a very practical and novel idea for a bus stop.
The end result was a 14-foot-tall, 7-foot-wide wood and steel sculpture of the word BUS on South East Avenue in Baltimore.
Each letter is big enough to hold upwards of four people to protect them from the elements as they wait for public transport. People can also lay down along the curves of the U and S letters, and perhaps even take a nap before their bus arrives.
As the designers told Slate.com, the BUS installation is “a bus stop you will never miss.”
When creating a new bus stop at the Pacific View Mall in Buenaventura, Calif., sculptor Dennis Oppenheim wanted to design something that did more than give bus riders a place to sit. Instead, he created what he calls “a shelter” for the “tired and often alienated traveler,” he writes on his personal website.
The result is the Bus Home, a steel sculpture that he says depicts “the metamorphosis of a bus becoming a house.” It manifests itself as three curved and distorted structures that give riders a glimpse into what this metamorphosis would look like mid-process.
“I hope this work will also bring calm to especially young travelers, by showing flow, and connection between where you came from and where you are going,” says Oppenheimer in an interview with AmericansForTheArts.org.
In 2003, architects NIO Architecten created a bus stop in front of the Spaarne Hospital at a bus terminus in Hoofddorp in the Netherlands. Several bus routes come through this stop, and to capture the terminus’ fluidity, NIO Architecten created a “blob.” The sculpture is one of the world’s biggest structures to be comprised entirely of synthetic materials like polystyrene foam and polyester.
Also known as “The Amazing Whale Jaw,” the structure was painted with an orange coat that contains anti-graffiti properties to protect it from vandalism.
“Every opinion and image can be projected onto the building and it has no answers of its own,” says NIO Architecten. The Amazing Whale Jaw most certainly gives riders plenty to think about as they wait for their bus.
The village of Krumbach, Austria, may be the unlikeliest place in the world to be an epicenter of unique bus stop designs.
However, the Bus:Stop project, the work of seven international architects, helped transform the sleepy village into an architectural destination. Architects from all around the world, including Sou Fujimoto from Japan, Spanish Architecture firm Ensamble Studio and Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, agreed to help Krumbach build these structures in exchange for a holiday in the picturesque region of Bregenzerwald.
Fujimoto used a “forest” of steel rods and a winding staircase to create a bus stop “where people can meet, enjoy the views, and that, furthermore, functions as a landmark in Krumbach,” said Fujimoto in an interview with Dezeen.
Other bus stops, including a glass box and a triangular metal shape meant to mimic the sharp peaks of the neighboring Alpine mountains, collectively offer tourists and residents places to appreciate and experience their surroundings.
Although these designs take a unique approach to the lowly bus stop, they all tell the same story: that everyday objects in the built environment don’t have to be ordinary.