Most cities offer bus transportation to help people get from one place to another. People leave their homes and walk to the nearest bus stop and wait for the bus. These bus stops are designed elements. Truthfully, some are better design elements in the city than others. Have you ever taken a bus? If so, have you ever had to wait at a bus stop? What is waiting at a bus stop really like when it is cold, hot, rainy, dark? What can you do at a bus stop when you are waiting? What can you learn while you are waiting? Can bus stops teach us anything about a city? Are bus stops in a city different for different neighborhoods? How could bus stops be improved?
Activity 1 – Improve a bus stop
Now that you have observed people waiting at bus stops, imagine what could improve their experience. Think about shelter from the rain. Consider the comfort of seating. How about introducing solar lighting to illuminate the bus stop after dark? In some cities, bus stops diplay digital information about bus arrivals. This is a wonderful service for people waiting and wondering when the bus will arrive. Are bus routes and numbers posted at the bus stop on a readable map? Does the bus stop provide any other wayfinding information to help connect the riders with where they are? Finally, what can you do to improve the pleasure of waiting for and riding the bus?
Using your design research, brainstorm ideas. Research other cities who have created bus stops as events. Should bus stops all look the same or should they be different in different neighborhoods? Select a near by bus stop. Sketch and conceptually model different approaches to enhancing an existing stop. You can use photographs, Sketch up or physical models. Photograph a before and after.
Enlight public imagination!
Activity 2 – Document Bus Stops in Your City
Gather a friend, a camera, a pad of grid paper, pencils and find your nearest bus stop. Take pictures of it. Measure it. Make drawings of its four elevations. Take notes about anything else that you observe about it. What is it made our of? How is it attached to the ground? How long do you think it will last? Is it lit? Does it have a place to sit? Does it have bus route information on it? Does it have other information on it anywhere? Is it well maintained? Do you think it is a pleasant place to be? Is it beautiful in your opinion? After you prepare this information for the closest bus stop, research the bus system in your city. Make a map of bus stops. One by one, document each of them. Make a visual poster of the different bus stops. Categorize them by material, size, seating, lighting, information, beauty, etc. Present your bus stop research to your class.
Activity 3 – Observe and Interview People waiting for Bus Service
With a friend walk to a bus stop. Find a place away from the bus stop that you feel comfortable observing people. While one of you observes and narrates, the other person can take notes and make diagrams. Who comes to this bus stop? What do they do when approaching? DO they check their watch and glance up the street? Do they run up and ask directions form another person? Do they run to the stop and look for the time the next set of busses arrive? Do they seek shelter from rain under a roof? Do they take a seat to rest or to dig through their purse or briefcase to find something? Are they talking to someone or are they talking or texting on their cell phone?
Activity 4 – design a social incubator bus stop
This is your chance to design a new bus stop of your dreams. Now that you have observed and participated in waiting for buses, this is your chance to be a bus stop designer! You can create a bus stop that provides shelter, comfort, information and culture. Check your bus map. Select a stop that you think should be added or one that would ignite interest in taking the bus if it looked and worked differently. From your research create a short program. Process your program through a site analysis to understand sunlight, wind and climate considerations. Develop concepts that address the social and physical needs that you have observed. Test your ideas with sketching and small, quick models. Configure different structural systems and expressions. Share your ideas and get feedback and develop one final model to build and draw. Remember to label your bus stop and to show it with people standing and sitting during the day and night, winter and summer.
Improve your city! Encourage use of public transit!
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