As more people head back to work and public places begin to reopen in an effort to restart the economy, it's safe to say that COVID-19 has completely shapeshifted mobility and our ideas of what transportation and travel should be like.

At first glance, Hong Kong's Ponti Design Studio may have created something that looks something out of a dystopian sci-fi film. Dubbed 'Island', the double-decker driverless tram is designed for the city of Hong Kong in the post-COVID era. This highly innovative design not only includes the exterior and interior of the tram but also takes into account the tram stop design.

The idea of designing a tram is no coincidence: trams are one of the city’s landmarks and the tramways celebrate their 115th anniversary this year. 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.

"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," says Andrea Ponti, founder of Ponti Design Studio.

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 optimises 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 a natural finish all create a neutral and friendly environment. This chromatic diversity, in addition to the dark colour 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 optimises the available space inside.

Exploring a wide spectrum of design aspects from the product to the urban landscape, Island represents the forward-thinking 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," concludes Ponti Design Studio.

design urban transport futuristic post-covid social distancing tram Hong Kong, Tastemaker

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