Blueprint For Bus Design Competition

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 121 months ago
Blueprint For Bus Design Competition
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Time is running out for TfL's competition to design a new Routemaster - it closes in just over a week. But a recently republished article from the Blueprint archive reveals that this is not the first time Londoners have been solicited for their ideas on how to build a better bus.

For its 25th anniversary issue, on sale now, architecture and design journal Blueprint has chosen a selection of the best journalism over its quarter century lifetime. One of the featured pieces, "RT Detour", written by Jonathan Glancey for the inaugural issue in October 1983, bemoans a plan by London Transport (as they were known) to get rid of the Routemaster as they attempted to shift their fleet to single-person operation. Plus ├ža change.

Intriguingly, while Glancey notes that LT is "talking to leading design practices", he also mentions that the Royal Academy of Art is "sponsoring its own design-a-London-bus competition". There's not much more detail than that, yet the article is illustrated with some impressive efforts: Sebastian Conran's submits a line-drawing of a small-wheeled, electric powered vehicle, while Daniel Weil conjures a bus with a retractable roof for the warmer months. Was summer all that less wet in the Eighties? There's also a sleek, bullet shaped model with a detachable driver's cab designed by Jan Kaplicky and David Nixon which, presciently, anticipates modern concerns by incorporating a motorised ramp for wheelchair passengers.

As we well know, rumours of RM's demise turned out to be a little premature. But what happened with the RA's design competition? Perhaps it fizzled out and died, or perhaps there's a stockpile of inventive yet unrealised schemes and ideas sitting in a dusty basement somewhere under Piccadilly. Might be worth TfL's while to get digging.

The 25th anniversary issue of Blueprint is on sale now, while the modern-day Design A London Bus competition closes on 19th September.

Image from Jack Goffe Photography's Flickrstream via the Londonist pool

Last Updated 11 September 2008