Urban Lens

Project: BostonBRT Station Design Competition
Host:  Barr Foundation and Institute for Transportation and Development Policy

URBAN LENS, a proposal for BostonBRT high speed bus stations, reconceives the bus shelter as a piece of inhabitable infrastructure for art.  Designed as a series of blank canvases distributed throughout the city’s neighborhoods, these carefully crafted translucent shelters are individualized through the use of artists’ projections, curated views, and seasonal transformation.

The bus station is a visual lens through which to re-experience the city at large and the neighborhoods specifically.  The enclosure is assembled from a double layer of translucent polypropylene onto which local artists and neighborhood groups can design light, video and sound installations.  This content can evolve and change, transforming the enclosure and establishing a unique identity for the BRT corridors.     Views from within the station are curated for each individual location through strategically placed openings in the building envelope:  isolating the sky, a local landmark, the passing feet on a neighboring sidewalk.  The sound of traffic and birds, whose visual stimuli have been removed, now create an urban soundtrack while waiting for the bus.  By editing and curating the view, one experiences individual moments in the neighborhood with heightened senses.

The bus station as a mechanism for experience acknowledges its New England location and regional climate, while providing shelter in all seasons.  Adapting to the distinct times of year, the station subtly transforms its interior environment from a porch in the summer to a hearth in the winter.   In the summer the station opens up with the skylights fully retracted to allow for increased ventilation while electrical ceiling fans create additional breezes.  In the winter, the skylights are closed and radiant heating in the bench creates a hearth around which people can gather.

By designing the bus station to be a unique place and a public infrastructural amenity, its role in the neighborhood is enhanced and transformed.