In January 2010, Heatherwick Studio joined the team commissioned by London’s mayor to develop the design of a new bus for London. This would be the first bus to be designed specifically for the capital in more than fifty years, but the brief was not to replicate the Routemaster, which was inaccessible to wheelchair-users and difficult for people with prams. Having set the environmental target of using 40% less fossil fuel than existing buses, the team developed a hybrid vehicle, powered by both electricity and diesel, seeking to make it as lightweight as possible.
The geometry of the vehicle developed from a series of pragmatic decisions. It was in order to minimise the perceived size of the vehicle that its corners and edges were rounded. It was to allow the driver to see small children standing next to the bus that its front window was angled down towards the pavement. And, with its three doors on one side and two staircases on the other, it was the functional asymmetry of the bus’s internal circulation that led to its asymmetrical geometry. The windows form two ribbons of glass that wrap around the bus, corresponding to the two staircases, which transform the stairs from a dark constricted tunnel to a different kind of space.
After the design was unveiled in May 2010, a prototype was developed and manufactured by Wrightbus and launched in December 2011 by the Mayor of London. The first three buses came into service in early 2012, with five more due to join them later this year.
– text from heatherwickstudios.com
If you’d like to see photographs of the inside of the bus there’s an interesting article from The Guardian newspaper that can be viewed online here. You can also catch the Route 38 bus and see it for yourself!