Architect designs new London bus

Not content with building gherkin-shaped skyscrapers and luxury yachts, Lord Foster has now turned his attention to another type of design challenge: the humble London bus.

Foster + Partners has won joint first prize in Transport for London’s competition to design a 21st-century routemaster to replace the capital’s much-maligned bendy buses. Salisbury-based transport specialists Capoco Design was the other winner.

The practice teamed up with Aston Martin to produce an environmentally-friendly Routemaster decked out with timber floors and reconstituted leather upholstery.

Rather like the practice’s celebrated revamp of the Reichstag, the bus has a glazed roof which incorporates solar cells and filters daylight to control the temperature inside.

Passengers will be able to gaze up through the roof at London’s skyscrapers – including Foster’s own 30 St Mary’s Axe, or the Gherkin as it is popularly known.

Foster and Aston Martin’s design keeps the Routemaster’s classic open access platform at the bus’ rear, but adds a side door to provide access for the mobility-impaired.

Foster said: “I am delighted that we have won joint first prize with the Aston Martin/Foster + Partners design. This project has really captured my imagination. London’s buses are so much a part of the essence of this city – functionally, symbolically and geographically.

They help us draw a mental map – their destinations are London’s historic places, often green: Shepherds Bush, Islington Green, Hampstead Heath, Green Park. Our design seeks to combine contemporary innovation with timelessness.”

It is not Foster’s first attempt at transport design – his Yachtplus 40 Signature Series boat is available to buy at the knockdown price of €1.8m, plus upkeep costs of roughly €200,000 a year.