We’ve got you Covered: Creative Shelters Inspiring Communities
Shelter is one of the basic human needs along with food, water, and companionship. Broadly defined as ‘a structure that protects people or things from danger or the elements,’ when it comes to urban design, shelter means different things to different people. In this article, we take a look at a world class city where 2,000 thoughtfully designed bus shelters combine the spirit of sustainable transportation with the art of place making. Next, we travel to Honolulu, Hawaii, where an innovative proposal provokes thought as to how we can creatively meet the basic need for shelter for disadvantaged people living in our own urban communities. Then, we check out a lush, vegetated canopy in western Malaysia designed to shelter a communal green space. Last, but not least, we visit the Portuguese city of Águeda where a magical “pop up” art installation provides shelter from the heat and rain every summer. If you want to look at additional creative shelters, you can always Search ‘shelter’ on CADdetails.com.
Service-Oriented Bus Shelters
Last summer, Paris, the City of Lights replaced its 2,000 bus shelters with innovative, eco-friendly and connected shelters at bus stops, airport shuttle stops, key sightseeing stops and taxi stands. Designed by Marc Aurel of Aurel Design Urbain the new-generation place-making structures have a streamlined, contemporary silhouette that blends perfectly with the capital city's exceptional urban environment. In addition, they offer a new range of innovative services for users, pedestrians and visitors alike, modernizing the image of the bus and strengthening the appeal of public transport in the city.
The sleek new shelters feature a large roof covering a bigger surface area, and easier access and circulation within the shelters for people with strollers or reduced mobility. Signal masts are offset, so that the type of shelter (bus, sightseeing line, taxi, airport shuttle) and the waiting time for the next service can be easily read from a distance. For the visually impaired, tactile labels and a button-for-voice-announcement provide real-time bus arrival information. Nighttime lighting is both beautiful and functional, and each shelter is equipped with a universal mobile phone charger outlet. 100 of the shelters also feature wheelchair access to large touch-screen digital information and service panels. Interactive screens display innovative, searchable maps devised by the City Council to highlight local areas of interest, such as municipal facilities or Vélib’ self-service bicycle hire. In addition, 100 of the shelters have been fitted with integrated energy-saving solar panels, and an additional 50 are planted with green roofs.
Best of all for budget-strapped cities, an advertising agency (in Paris, JCDecaux) pays for the structure and installation, in exchange for the ability to place ads on it. Yes, these amazing bus stops are free to the city!
For more information on how to create active, attractive, community public spaces at transit stations and bus stops, read this - Thinking beyond the Station.
City Buses Reborn as Homeless Shelters
You may be surprised to learn that in the 2014 “State of Homelessness in America” report, the State of Hawaii ranked highest in America for homeless people per capita, due in large part to high rent, low wages, and displacement from development. What’s more, the city of Honolulu has come under fire in recent years for inadequately addressing the issue, with police officers citing the homeless for a variety of pedestrian violations including sitting and lying down on sidewalks, and at least one proposal from the city council that sought to relocate the homeless to a remote island, away from tourists.
Now, architects at the Honolulu-based firm Group 70 International have come up with a creative response to the problem: retrofit a fleet of 70 retired city buses into temporary mobile shelters. The renovated buses - which have been retired due to their advanced mileage but are still operational - will provide shelter, showers and recreation for some of Honolulu’s homeless population. The architects envision converting them into a variety of spaces to serve the needs of the homeless population. Some buses will be sleeping quarters, with origami-inspired beds that fold away when not in use. Others will be outfitted with showers to serve the homeless populations’ hygiene needs. The buses will be able to go to locations all over the island of Oahu where they are most needed, either separately or as a fleet.
The refurbished buses can also be adapted to other uses, including mobile health clinics or garden and art mobiles, or, as shown above, converted to a bustling market during the day. If all goes well, Honolulu officials hope to create buses that could provide services for people with addictions, or mental illnesses, or who have pets.
Group 70 is currently seeking a non-profit to take on the implementation of the project. Habitat for Humanity has reportedly expressed interest, and the hope is these innovative mobile shelters will be in place in the coming months. And since it actually costs significantly less money to provide the homeless with services like free housing or medical care instead of waiting for them to go to the emergency room or get arrested by the police, projects like the bus conversion are a fiscally responsible move by the city of Honolulu as well.
The Arc at Rimbayu Bandar
The landscape design for the Arc, in Bandar Rimbayu, Maylaysia creates a unique recreational area that is fresh and safe for the residents while incorporating the concept of ‘Embracing Life Within Nature’. Trailing plants cascade over the edge of the elevated walkway, pictured above, which was designed by Garis Architects to by a living, evolving showcase of sustainable design.
Completed in 2014, the design concept was to create a landscape environment that has an overall park feel. At the most fundamental level, the Arc provides shelter for recreational community activities. A curtain of fronds that sprout from planting on the green roof hangs along the edge of the covered area, providing shade from the sun. A covered corridor beneath the canopy links a playing field, clubhouse, children’s play park and a carpark. The sheltered area is also used to host community festivals, food stalls and shops. Each end is lowered to provide pedestrian access by ramping up towards the green roof deck that serves an upper level pedestrian network of garden paths, connecting the whole installation at two separate levels.
Bandar Rimbayu won the Malaysia Landscape Architecture Awards (MLAA) 2014 for excellence in Landscape Design – the most prestigious award under the professional category given by the Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia (ILAM).
The Umbrella Sky Project
The Umbrella Sky Project began in 2011 as a part of the city of Águeda’s famous annual Ágitagueda Art Festival in Portugal. Each year, during the hot summer months of July, August, and September, a handful of the city’s narrow streets gain colorful umbrella canopies that provide shade for the pedestrians passing through. Rooftop cables are strung with numerous parasols that help cool the roadways in a creative and cost-effective way, and the sea of umbrellas forms a unique geometric pattern overhead as well as changing shadows on the roadway below. Programming like outdoor workout classes give this shaded area an added layer of functionality, enabling high-energy and fitness activities despite high summer temperatures.
Since the project began, these pop-up shade structures have become an annual summertime installation and they have developed a cult following around the world. Creators of the Umbrella Sky Project, Sextafeira, have also launched offshoots of this work in other cities such as Lisbon, where they have added to the streetscape by stringing multicolored balloons over urban alleyways. As with all of their projects, the polka-dot shadows that shine down onto the street below add more color to people’s lives in everyday settings.