An innovative bus shelter that can use vibration and sound to inform passengers of an approaching bus has won the top prize in a design challenge that explores the future of Hobart’s public transport network.

The Smarter Hobart Challenge: Bus Shelter and Digital Interface Design Competition invited innovators to put forward their ideas for interactive, digitally enhanced, sustainable and accessible bus shelters. The competition attracted more than 120 innovators from across Australia, the USA, India, South America, Russia, Ukraine, Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy and France.

Sydney-based, international award-winning design firm, Supermanoeuvre, took out the challenge with an adaptive design that could be altered to suit different locations.

It is envisioned that some sites could accommodate a rotating shelter that could be moved to block wind and rain, to follow the sun, or take in views.

They are designed to be locally fabricated from sustainable Tasmanian hardwood plantation timber that is usually relegated to paper pulp, providing a tactile, cost-effective and distinctly Tasmanian product. The timber would undergo a cross-lamination process to boost its structural integrity.

The shelters can also be equipped with real-time bus network information, wayfinding maps, charging ports, smart lighting and solar panels to power the features.

A digital display screen could be used to provide information about upcoming events, community notice boards, or even leader boards for fun community challenges.

A suite of complementary accessories including smart bins, smart lockers, drinking stations, community library, charging stations and bike racks are included with the design.

The entire design can be adjusted virtually through use of an augmented reality program that places the shelter at the location for site-specific considerations.

Supermanoeuvre Director, Dave Pigram, said he was instantly excited when he heard about the Smarter Challenge – having been set on his path towards a successful design career when he won a competition in kindergarten to design the interior of a bus shelter.

“I called my business partner straight away and he agreed we needed to be part of this,” Mr Pigram said.

Hobart Lord Mayor, Anna Reynolds, said the winning design demonstrated what was possible for cities that were prepared to think outside the box.

“To be an innovative city, we need to be willing to step outside of our comfort zone and explore the possibilities that technology can bring,” Cr Reynolds said.

“This bus shelter design gives us insight into what can be achieved in Hobart and we look forward to the detailed design and construction of a prototype as the next steps.”

Five entries were initially shortlisted in the competition for further development, with input from stakeholders including Metro Tasmania and the Access Advisory Committee.

Finalists were asked to address a range of key elements such as three-sided weather protection, accessibility, local and sustainable fabrication, and alternative or renewable energy options.

The winning design will now move to the final stage of the Challenge, working with City of Hobart staff to develop a shovel-ready design, which will progress to installation of a prototype in 2022 under a trial arrangement. Community feedback will be sought during the trial.

A People’s Choice Award, voted by the Hobart community, went to MAC Studio, comprising Launceston-based landscape designer, Blake Pinnington, and UTas graduate-now Melbourne architect, Max Cooke.

The MAC Studio design features a steel frame and polycarbonate side panels presented in modular components. A sculptural totem pole street light doubles as a digital display offering route and timetable information, with push buttons for audio and customer service.

The Smarter Hobart Challenge is part of the City of Hobart’s Connected Hobart Framework and Action Plan, which is guiding the City towards innovative solutions to traffic congestion and other smart city and sustainability challenges.

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