Transit Studio: Interior design for Boats, Trains, Buses

Presented by: Amy Campos

As forms of transportation provide increasing opportunity for new forms of public space, work space and social space, this series of junior-level undergraduate studios have produced comprehensive proposals for the re-conceptualization of a fleet of public/private vehicles to serve the growing commuter population in the San Francisco Bay Area. Transit in California is undergoing a major transformation from an individual car-centered private environment to an increasingly public mass transportation model. BMW has recently proposed a redesign of the BART trains in the Bay Area and plans for a high speed train connecting major urban areas in California, including San Francisco and Los Angeles providing hope for a more connected, ecologically responsible public infrastructure on the West Coast. Many of the larger tech companies in Silicon Valley provide transportation from San Francisco to offices in the South Bay, essentially allowing employees to commence work at the start of their commute. These studios function as a design research think tanks, centered on the question of a new territory for interior design beyond architecture. Given the significant economic and cultural shifts in the last decade, particularly in relation to the way we work, designers will need to consider and address a new attitude towards travel, community, and labor. We simultaneously work with urban infrastructural issues and human-scaled material prototypes and details. Global transit precedents are studied in detail. Locally specific criteria for design offered by San Francisco, its public transit system and private transit networks, frame the approach to design. Programmatic zones included in the project will be determined through site, program and precedent research, but all projects must address a commuting working population, as well as, traditional public transit populations including the elderly, the disabled, families with children and a variety of socio-economic demographics. Each student participates in imagining the site in terms of large-scale infrastructural programming and finishes the semester with a detailed design for his/her proposed programmed transit fleet. The studios are structured with a unique design process – asking the students to first work in teams to produce 2-week ‘competition-style’ proposals for each of the three transit types (bus, ferry and train). After these three competition phases the students have the last third of the semester to develop each scheme individually. The studio has run three times, with two of those studios producing Donghia Scholarship winners, a very prestigious national $30,000 award for Interior Design Students.


  • 'Without and within: essays on territory and the interior' by Mark Pimlott, episode publishers: Rotterdam 2007