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Poles designed bus stops in Iceland

28 of July '20

Krystian Dziopa and Iga Szczugieł, architecture graduates of the Silesian University of Technology, have won a competition to design the stops of the new urban bus rapid transit line - BRT Borgarlinan in the Capital Region of Iceland. The authors of the project talk about the inspiration, challenges, the impact of the Icelandic climate on design and the importance of education.

video showing the winning bus stop design

© Formatics

Iceland's new infrastructure

Year after year, growing traffic jams in downtown Reykjavík and the latest projections for population growth in Iceland's capital region (estimated to increase by 70,000 people by 2040), have necessitated the implementation of a new city line. BRT, or bus rapid transit, is the youngest and one of the more economical public transportation systems, as it costs about ten times less to build than a subway. It is characterized by the introduction of additional autonomous corridors, allowing buses to avoid delays during rush hour. The decision to build new infrastructure was made, the individual lines were delineated and the stages of the project were divided - so the next step was to determine the appearance of bus shelters.

 Rzut i przekrój
stacji przystankowej

The goal of the authors was to design an aesthetically pleasing space
providing a sense of security, with a clear function and simple design

© Formatyka

"Live, travel, enjoy - repeat!" modern bus stops

The competition, announced in April of this year, was addressed to interdisciplinary teams associated with architecture and industrial design. The task was to design a bus shelter with elements of small architecture - benches, information showcases, trash garbage cans, etc., with the possibility of expanding the shelter depending on the length of the platform (from 26 to 51 meters). Of the dozen or so works submitted, the jury awarded first place to the project entitled "Live, travel, enjoy - repeat. "Live, travel, enjoy - repeat!" by Krystian Dziopa and Iga Szczugieł - Polish designers living in Reykjavík. Krystian has been running his own design studio Formatyka for several years. Iga works for the Icelandic cybersecurity company Nanitor and collaborates with Formatyka.

The Polish team's goal was to design an aesthetically pleasing space that provides a sense of security, with a clear function and simple design. Thanks to the possibility of making minor changes in the appearance of the stop (colors or the form of perforated panels), it is possible to adapt each station to its surroundings, while maintaining the visual coherence of the entire line.

Wizualizacja jednego
z przystanków autobusowych

The characteristic frame outlining the body of the shelter is also a cover
for the structure, connects the closed and semi-open zones of the platform

© Formatyka

The winning design was described by the jury as fresh, very well solved technically and ensuring accessibility. Winning the competition gives young designers a chance to collaborate and participate in the next stages of project implementation. The entire process of implementing the Borgarlin BRT line is estimated to take about 10 years, and the first stage will be put into operation as early as 2023.

Dobrawa Bies: Did climatic conditions affect the final form of the project? How do you design in Poland versus Iceland?

Iga Szczugieł: The biggest challenge when it comes to the Icelandic climate is definitely the very strong wind, often accompanied by rain or snow. During winter there are repeated storm alerts, which are often so strong that there is a ban on leaving homes. In addition, the weather changes very quickly - a popular saying is - if you don't like the weather outside your window, just wait 5 minutes. Taking these circumstances into account, first of all, it was necessary to ensure a solid supporting structure and maintain maximum functionality of the shelter. We divided the entire platform into three zones - open, semi-open and closed. The distinctive frame outlining the body of the shelter is also a cover for the solid structure, and connects the closed and semi-open zones of the platform. Thanks to the zoning, the user can choose a resting place depending on weather conditions and bus waiting time. When designing architecture in Iceland, it is necessary to take into account the characteristics of the climate, definitely windier than in Poland. This necessitates the use of robust structures and proven materials.

konstrukcja całej

The competition task was to design a bus shelter with elements of small architecture

© Formatyka

Dobrawa Bies: What was the main inspiration for the project? Where did the idea for such a selection of materials come from?

Iga Szczugieł: A bus stop is a kind of "space in between". - connecting home with school, workplace, store, etc. The priority was to keep the place legible and functional. An extremely important element of the design is to enable quick identification as part of a larger infrastructure (BRT), but also as a piece of urban space. This will greatly facilitate the use of the line for people with reduced spatial orientation - due to age or limitations, but also for tourists. The visual coherence going hand in hand with the adaptability of the station allows the freedom to adapt the design to its context. The distinctive frame gives a clear signal - this is a BRT line station. On the other hand, the ability to change the color, modify the tinting of the glass and style the perforated panels - gives unlimited possibilities. The steel, frame structure combined with glass is a lightweight and easy to maintain structure.

w mocno zurbanizowanym terenie

The distinctive frame gives a clear signal - this is a BRT line station

© Formatyka

Dobrawa Bies: What was the biggest challenge?

Iga Szczugieł: One of the challenges at the very beginning was the language - most of the materials about the investment are available in Icelandic, and the competition entry also had to be written in this language. At the time we began work on the project, we also started an intensive course in Icelandic - the descriptions prepared in English were perfectly translated by our teacher Kjartan. We were also concerned about whether we understood the local style and character of the existing buildings well enough. A few years earlier we had designed a hotel complex and beach development in Croatia, and before that a Pilgrim Center in Norway, so we tried to stick to elementary design principles along with consideration of the local climate and existing architecture. We experienced first-hand what winter is like in Iceland, plus we used public transportation during this period - we also had our own thoughts. It may be interesting to note that the low cost of extracting geothermal energy makes it possible to install an underfloor heating system on the bus stop platform - just as it is solved on most pedestrian streets in the city center.

Dobrawa Bies: Would you say that studying architecture at the Silesian University of Technology contributed to your success?

Iga Szczugieł: Definitely yes. The architecture studies are famous for their excellent staff - mainly people who are involved in design on a daily basis. The university is very supportive of student participation in various competitions. In 2015, we won the Siemens Future Living Award kitchen design competition. In addition, during the period of study, we had the opportunity to go twice on internships abroad under the Erasmus program - to the Danish office of WE Architecture and Croatian Arhitekti Filipović. In addition to learning the language and the "live" design process in these offices, we established friendships and collaborations that continue to this day. The CRC program, consisting of courses created together with companies including ING Tech, in turn enabled me to change my profession to the one of my dreams - UX designer. Silesian University of Technology is a university that offers a lot of opportunities, while providing a solid base of theoretical knowledge.

elaboration: Dobrawa Bies

illustrations courtesy of Krystian Dziopa and Iga Szczugieł

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