The University of Costa Rica is moving towards a policy of zero personal vehicles parked on campus. To accomplish this, they're constructing parking compounds off campus, and around-the-clock bus system has been implemented for commuting between faculties and amenities.
Our commission was to design and construct the bus stops. They needed to be compact, scalable and to fit in into the campus culture, all while fulfilling the needs of students, faculty, and visitors who are already unhappy with the duration of their commute.
We focused on the role of passive information in the perception of the campus public space. Students factor in the number of people waiting for the bus, try to match bus frequencies to class schedules and decide whether walking, biking or taking the bus is the smartest option for each scenario.
The bus stop system builds on the concept of the signifier, that is, a design feature intended to signal users the objects’ function. UCR tracks the buses through GPS so the bus stops can reflect their proximity visually.
The University of Costa Rica has also set an upper limit to the expansion of their campuses’ buildings, thus limiting the impact on their carbon footprint.
However, cars—the biggest culprits—haven’t been successfully regulated. Migrating to a green collective transportation system allows for the addition of new buildings spaced evenly in the university’s terrains, maintaining gardens and urban furniture which foster communal life.
Faculty resists regulating cars under the claim that internal transportation is inefficient.
UCR’s three San Pedro campuses extend to seventy-seven hectares, which are sufficiently covered by an internal low-impact bus route; therefore it’s increasingly apparent this is a perception issue.
To counteract, the transportation system must be transparent, useful and relevant.
The design of the new bus stops had to be icons to signal change, affirming a commitment to sustainability.
These bus stops, unlike the utilitarian obstacles that clog San José’s sidewalks, act as a reference for students and visitors, displaying live information on the system, providing climate-adequate coverage and aiding the flow of pedestrians.
A shelter is a commodity in a country with over 80% humidity and heavy precipitation 60% of the year. Existing buildings offer a bare minimum of roofed public space, favoring open areas, plazas and nature reserves. The proposed system incorporates a network of shelters sprinkled throughout the whole campus.
A conscious effort was put in designing a space conspicuous enough to be visible and recognizable, that doesn’t upstage the surrounding nature.