Residents of the tiny Austrian village of Krumbach (population: 1,000) now get to wait for public transportation in style. Last year, the village’s cultural association reached out to acclaimed architecture firms to design unique bus stops that would be built by local craftsmen.
An international array of architects, including Pritzker Prize-winning Chinese architect Wang Shu and his partner Lu Wenyu, Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, and Chile’s Smiljan Radic, fashioned elegant bus shelters for Krumbach. In exchange for the usual fee, the village offered the architects a vacation in the surrounding Bregenzerwald region, which boasts a rich architectural history.
The seven new shelters, inaugurated this month, are a far cry from the drab awnings that most bus riders have to sit under. While some cities in the U.S., such as Santa Monica, are working to make waiting for the bus a more aesthetically pleasing experience, plenty of bus stops still look pretty gross. In Krumbach, waiting for the bus has been transformed into high art.
"This is a bus shelter, but not merely a bus shelter," Wang Shu said of his creation, which was inspired by the idea of a camera obscura, an optical device that projects an image of its surroundings. “The lens focuses on the scenery, the symmetrical, the static; sunlight illuminates the interior as gentle breezes filter through it; our gaze is guided to the mountains far away.”
Waiting for the bus has never been so glamorous.