Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 27 September 2020


Could these double-decker driverless capsules be the future for Hong Kong's popular trams?

A design studio has reimagined the city's public transport option for a post-pandemic world

The past century's sci-fi films didn't get everything about 2020 right. We might be using drones, but not everyone is getting to work in flying pods.

However, a new design for Hong Kong's popular tram network could have the city streets looking like something straight out of Blade Runner.

Ponti Design Studio, a product design company from Hong Kong, has reimagined the city's 115-year-old tram network with some rather futuristic new trains.

Designed in reaction to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Island has been created to offer a solution to public transport that helps maintain social distancing.

Scroll through the gallery above to see more renders of the Island.

The double-decker driverless tram opens on both sides, creating a linear flow of foot traffic, with signage designed to show people how to board.

"We wanted to reimagine public transport in the post-Covid era from a prevention perspective, especially in the densely populated city of Hong Kong, where social distancing is hard to achieve," the studio said in a statement.

Inside, seating can be found in pod-like booths or on benches lining the compartment.

"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 studio added.

The concept also reimagined the stations needed for the new-look trams, with a minimal design and rapid charging dock.

epa08582906 Passengers wear face masks as they travel on a tram in Hong Kong, China, 04 August 2020. Hong Kong announced that social-distancing measures over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people and mandatory mask-wearing in public places, will be extended by another week. EPA/JEROME FAVRE
Passengers wear face masks as they travel on a tram in Hong Kong, China, on August 4. EPA

The design isn't just functional; it's also intended to offer views of Hong Kong with its curved windows and domed top, making it as much a tourist attraction as a mode of transport.

The namesake studio is helmed by Andrea Ponti, an Italian-born designer who has collaborated with the likes of Panasonic, Philips and Samsonite.

The tram design is, at this point, purely conceptual, but offers a look at how design, particularly on public transport, may adapt in a post-pandemic world.

"We shouldn’t be dividing and separating, but instead rethinking public spaces with a seamless, integrated and effective design approach," the studio added.

Updated: August 4, 2020 04:48 PM

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