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Design Study for Hong Kong Tramway

© Andrea Ponti

Hong Kong’s iconic double-deck tramways are a landmark of the city and most popular among visitors and local commuters. Opened on 30 July 1904 on 1,067mm gauge it is still a vital part of the city’s urban transport system with approximately 180,000 passengers on average every weekday in 2019. Today’s operator is RATP Dev Transdev Asia.

The double-deck fleet has been renovated and replaced several times over the past decades. The by any means unprecedented, unusual situation of the Covid-sanitary crisis inspired the Hong Kong-based product design company Ponti Design Studio Ltd. to present a radically innovate concept of a future post-Covid generation of tramcars. The project called „Island“ includes the interior and exterior appearance of the vehicles as well as well as a new design concept for the tram stops on the route. It shows a double-deck driverless tram.

All pictures © Andrea Ponti

With the Coronavirus pandemic, people are shunning public transport and relying much more on private transport. Especially in the densely populated city of Hong Kong, where social distancing is hard to achieve. The concept of social distancing, which limits people’s freedom to move and interact became the design challenge and focal point for the new concept. The name Island references the innovative design of the interiors, where large circular benches facilitate social distancing and passengers sit facing outwards in a radial pattern.

The exterior design is inspired by the Hong Kong urban landscape, which features vast surfaces of glass and rounded corner buildings. Natural light floods the interiors during the day through the curved windows and a domed top, which also provide awe-inspiring views at night.

The driverless technology optimizes the interior space of the tram, making it easier to manage travel times and increase onboard safety. The tram has a retractable connector for rapid charging at tram stops. Large vertical LEDs enhance visibility in all weather conditions.

The interior design contrasts with the exterior. Minimalist design, charcoal black walls, soft circular seating, wooden floors and trims with natural finish all create a neutral and friendly environment. This chromatic diversity, in addition to the dark color palette, frames and accentuates the beauty of the Hong Kong urban landscape.

The simple tram stop structure has sleek, essential lines. Being open on both sides, it facilitates a linear, orderly flow of people and a healthier environment. The graphics guide passengers through the boarding and payment process, made by Octopus Card, before boarding. This streamlines the boarding procedure and optimizes the available space inside. Island explores a wide spectrum of design aspects, from the product to the urban landscape. It represents the forwardthinking spirit of Hong Kong, and introduces a new concept of public transport that overcomes the practice of social distancing. We shouldn’t be dividing and separating but instead rethinking public spaces with a seamless, integrated and effective design approach.

The concept was independently created and not in direct connection with the operator of the Hong Kong Tramways. It will be most interesting to see which aspects will be incorporated into the system in the future.

All pictures: © Andrea Ponti
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