A new bus for London competition
winners announced



Car manufacturers Aston Martin and architects Foster + Partners are among the winners of a competition to design a new Routemaster bus for London.


The £25,000 first prize was jointly awarded to Aston Martin and Foster + Partners (top image), and bus, coach and truck design company Capoco Design (above).


Runners up included Héctor Serrano, Miñarro García and Javier Esteban with their design 'Welcome Back' (above), and Jamie Martin from the UK with a design called 'The London Navigator' (below).

Update: see more images of Serrano, García and Esteban's design in our new story here.


The winning designs and ideas will be developed into final designs by bus manufacturers. The first prototype of the new bus will be produced by 2011.


The competition, run by Transport for London, received around 700 entries. Winners are divided into two categories - 'design' and 'imagine', which included entries from children. Above: merit award - Routemaster 2.0 by Concrete, all-round creative, Antwerp, Belgium.


Above: merit award - proposal by LA:UK Design Ltd, Andrew Plumb, Cheshire, UK. The following information is from Transport for London:


MAYOR OF LONDON Transport for London
A New Bus for London

The winners: Design a bus for London

In this category we asked entrants with technical skills to submit detailed designs for a double-decker bus that may influence a 21st century Routemaster.

We wanted more than ideas - we wanted vision, and the competition was fierce!

There were two classes within the design category:

  • Whole bus: Detailed technical drawings for an entire bus concept
  • Elements: Detailed technical drawings for a part or parts of a new bus

The winners of either of these classes may see their designs being taken forward to major bus manufacturers.

225 entries were received in the ‘design’ category (with some entrants submitting a ‘whole bus’ design and some focusing on a particular part or ‘element’ of the bus). Designs were submitted by professionals and non-professionals, by individuals and organisations.
Although the majority of entries were from the UK we did receive quite a few international entries from five continents – Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America.

‘Whole bus’ design

Joint First:
Aston Martin and Foster + Partners
Capoco Design Ltd

Runners up:
Héctor Serrano Studio, Miñarro García, Javier Esteban
Jamie Martin

Merit awards:
David Bradshaw
Style to Design Ltd
Concrete, all-round creative
LA:UK Design Ltd
Eric Woodcock
‘Element’ design

Merit awards:
Lottie Duke
Rhys Wyman

‘Whole bus’ design
Joint first prize: Aston Martin and Foster + Partners, London

Description of entry: Two emblematic British brands – Aston Martin and Foster + Partners – worked together to challenge preconceptions of bus design. Gathering first-hand research and canvassing passengers, drivers and conductors, the team worked from the inside – out.
Designed in response to the needs of its users, the new bus is zero emissions ready, accessible for all and will set new standards for sustainable vehicles. The bus will reinvent a much-loved London icon for a new era and re-establish the city as a world leader in the design of public transport.

A symbol of place, the bus is also designed to navigate the dense and varied streets of London, employing innovative technologies to allow for greater manoeuvrability on tight corners. Increasing safety and visibility, screens in the cabin allow the driver to supervise CCTV images and both the layout and choice of warm lighting and wooden floors are conceived to foster a spirit of conviviality. The arrangement of the decks is driven by comfort and particular consideration is given to the selection of upholstery to create a ‘living room’ feel, especially in the saloon-like lower deck. The original Routemaster was introduced in 1956 and saw continuous service for almost forty years: the new bus for London is designed to adapt to changing technologies and serve the capital for the next forty years and beyond.

The judges said: “We were impressed with the extent of background research and level of development in this entry by Aston Martin and Foster + Partners. The overall concept was meticulously and artistically presented and displayed. We particularly liked the overall styling package, especially the rear end, and heritage cues from the original Routemaster such as the use of wood flooring. Other innovations included a drive-by-wire system, solar panels built into the glass roof, and LED –based moving advertising displays.”

‘Whole bus’ design
Joint first prize: Capoco Design Ltd, Alan Ponsford, Salisbury

Description of entry: The entry was initially prompted by the perfect celestial alignment of media interest, wide public interest and pivotal mayoral interest. These factors were underpinned by the basic foundation that Capoco is a bus design company, and bus design competitions are few and far between. In fact, this is the first in our 30+ year history so a very welcome and apposite initiative.

Our design approach was to combine the best of the old with the best of the new. Whilst the Routemaster was a fine design in its day, it had an impenetrable saloon for some users due to the high step. Also, although it was light, it was based on a simple truck-like powertrain that did not allow for the more recent technological advances.

So our new design has a low flat floor to allow easy access for all, plus an efficient series hybrid electric drive to reduce both the fuel consumption and emissions. But it retains the Routemaster family lineage, with a front engine, open rear platform and an individual face.

The judges said: “The Capoco submission was technically excellent. We felt the design featured many novel and innovative approaches which were capable of being incorporated as practical proposals and carried through to a potential manufacturing stage. Details that were particularly impressive were the light-weight structure and the hybrid propulsion and drive-train system. The design met all the stated aims of the competition and was presented in a stylised package that displayed deliberate and strong links to the original Routemaster.”

‘Whole bus’ design
Runner up: Héctor Serrano Studio, London, Miñarro García, Valencia, Javier Esteban, Barcelona

Project name: Welcome Back
The project is the evolution of the iconic Routemaster, an innovative vehicle combining the best of the past with the best of now. A unique bus tailored to London. A brand new London classic that retains that much appreciated friendly and warm feeling from the Routemaster. A compact bus for a compact city, the vehicle can move easily around London’s narrow streets. One of the most characteristic features is the diagonal window that celebrates our double-decker bus by visually externalizing the stairs. To improve safety we have incorporated a lighting system into the floor of the rear entrance platform that informs passengers and vehicles when the bus is about to move. This is a truly sustainable vehicle using a Hybrid Diesel- electric Drive System and solar panel to recharge the energy storage module. Its smaller size also means less weight so less fuel and less exhaust emissions are produced.

The judges said: “The compact design from the Héctor Serrano Studio, Miñarro García and Javier Esteban is a visual reincarnation of the Routemaster but with a very 21st century treatment. A hybrid diesel-electric drive-train and regenerative braking system were proposed to keep weight and emissions to a minimum, coupled with a solar-panel roof for top-up energy. We were particularly impressed with the wide doors, stairs and aisles as well as a stop-go lighting system for the rear platform to enhance passenger safety. Other features included indirect roof lighting and cantilever seating for ease of floor cleaning.”

‘Whole bus’ design
Runner up: Jamie Martin, Surbiton

Description of entry: The ‘London Navigator’ has been conceptualised as a spiritual successor to the now classic Routemaster bus. The Routemaster is regarded as one of the key recognisable icons of London. I felt that an equally distinctive replacement for the Routemaster is required to retain this iconography; a stylish red bus that can only be associated with London, is easily distinguishable from the standard double-decker or bendy bus, and is quintessentially British. The overall approach has been to produce a unique and recognisable design; a functional yet characterful new icon for London.

The judges said: “Jamie Martin’s entry was an early favourite for its bold and modern take on original Routemaster lines, especially the rear curved roof-line. The clean styling aspects were clearly derived from original features, particularly the radiator and badging. The concept reflected the considerable effort taken to provide realistic modelling and rendering from a range of viewpoints and angles. Beyond purely stylistic features, considerable thought had gone into the component layout (e. g. hybrid drive through to rear axle electric hub motors), hand rail design and a novel safety barrier for the rear platform.”
The winners: Imagine a bus for London

Imagine winners

In this category we asked entrants to unleash their imagination and defy conventional thinking to come up with ideas for London's new bus.

We didn't ask for details. We didn't ask for technical expertise.

We just asked for inspirational ideas - and we got loads!

There were four classes in the imagine category, all age-based. The only requirement was to send us an imaginative drawing or sketch with a short explanation of the thinking behind it.

475 entries were received in the ‘imagine’ category, mostly from the UK. The entries were divided into four age categories, under 11s, 11-16 year olds, 16-18 year olds and over 18s.

Under 11s
First prize: Thomas Staricoff, UK, Olivia Carrier, UK
Second prize: Luke Brennan, UK
Third prize: Yasmin Ali, UK
Merit: Hana Broadhurst, UK, Takeo Broadhurst, UK

First prize: Dolapo Okunlola, UK
Second prize: Ben Holmes, UK
Third prize: Albert Braid, UK

First prize: Nicholas Cho, UK
Second prize: Craig Tomkins, UK
Third prize: Charlotte Taylor, UK

Over 18s
First prize: Frances Faulder, UK
Second prize: Matt Belcher, UK
Third Prize: Alan Thorley, UK
Merit: Laszlo Vass, Barnet, UK

Judges’ comments:
“We were delighted with the number of designs submitted in this category – the competition clearly appealed to a wide range of people who obviously put a lot of thought and effort into their designs for a new bus for London.

“A number of themes came out in the ‘imagine’ category – we were very impressed to see how many entrants considered accessibility issues in their design. The environment was also at the top of the agenda with a lot of designs showing hybrid engines or other green technologies powering the bus.

“Entrants gave a lot of thought to how to make bus travel more comfortable for passengers, with several designs including blinds, curtains, soft seats or quiet zones. Younger designers had entertainment in mind, with dedicated play zones on the bus or games consoles for passengers to use.

“Overall, it was a fantastic response which exceeded our expectations; and it was a tough job choosing the winning designs.”

We've chosen the winners and got loads of great ideas for London's new bus - so where do we go from here?

The aim of our competition was to harvest a range of creative ideas for a bus fit for the 21st century. We will now pass the best designs and concepts on to bus manufacturers, so they can be developed into final design proposals.

A competitive tendering process will then determine to which company we award the final contract to build the new bus for London. This should be decided by the end of next year.

The first prototype of the new bus will be on the streets of London by 2011.

Posted on Friday December 19th 2008 at 1:22 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • waka

    every single of these designs look awful, if we have to accept them as a substitute for the original, classic thing

  • rich

    Aston + Foster’s = Disappointment.
    I know times are hard but come on.

  • SouL

    Since when architect’s try to be industrial designers??? and where did the industrial designers go??? probably to a better industrial location…

  • Jake

    The majority look like dinky toys – where is the gravitas that the old routemaster so embodied? Jamie Martins design is the only one really to capture this.

  • Was this a competition to design a ‘new’ routemaster, or a competition to design a new bus thats looks a bit like the old routemaster? I agree, they all look awful.

  • Mowgli

    theres not much of a change but its better than what they have now…

  • nytrick

    The winner looks like a toy truck! I hope there’s more to it than what they’re showing us…I think the coolest and most forward of the designs is from Jamie Martin (4th one down)…kind of looks like a bugatti or ferrari design in the front. I can’t seem to spot any Aston Martin or Foster trademarks on the winner that would make it interesting. But I do have a feeling that putting those 2 companies together would have produced a winning entry even if all they submitted was a blank sheet of paper stating “design to follow”. Why was there even a competition??

  • Wow that looks really great. Its good that london keeps that tradition of the red busses

  • Trumbo

    “Two emblematic British brands”, that´s how the winners brief begins.
    Dosent´s seem like fair play international spirit. Were they afraid of foreign designers?
    God save endogamy!!!

  • Andrew

    I hope the fosters + Aston Martin design is as fast as an Aston Martin!!!!

  • scruces

    agreed especially the first – yuck…don’t change a thing keep the original

  • eduardo

    Bying my ticket RIO – LONDON

  • Does the bus come with the disabled invisibility cloak shown? I’m more impressed by that, frankly.

  • elegante

  • croftdesign

    how are any of these poor attmpts new? why ‘design’ a new bus that mimics the old in such an ineffective way? the designers are just spinning their wheels (no pun intended). lets see something innovative.

  • croftdesign

    p.s. i think i’m going to be sick.

  • wtf

    they got £25,000 for that?

  • Paul

    A complete waste of time, resources and effort – how about concentrating on some real present and future issues – affordable housing? conserving energy? waste management?

    Only in London could this happen, in the same week that Manchester lost the chance for a huge investment in public transport. London blows a pot of money to re-design a classic emblem of public transport past, and Manchester still suffers with a poor collection of privately owned buses and some of the most unsafe roads to cycle on in the country. Is this a design revolution or a design merry go around – I get the sense that I’ve seen it all before, here we go again…

  • Ben

    aston martin meets foster meets PIXAR … :-)

  • charlotte

    the winner looks the worst.
    It looks like a toy, or a bus from a 3D children’s animation.

  • M

    Foster didnt win on the basis of design,
    but by the move of collaborating with Aston Martin

  • This project was tremendously exciting and one that should have showcased the importance of design and how it can touch and improve our everyday lives. However, It seems the new routemaster has purely become an exercise in style and hasn’t dealt with the fundamental issues at stake.

    A solution that placed the needs of the user at the forefront would have had enormous merit. The focus should have been on the design of a great bus for the streets of London and not, as it seems, simply dressing up the old routemaster!

    A competition that had so much potential has, unfortunately, delivered so little!

  • Sluggo

    I think the Foster design is fantastic. We had the old bus, time for the new. Stop being so nostalgic for the past, everything is “classic” when it gets old.

  • I endorse everything that George said.. where is the innovation?

  • Erwan

    1)Héctor Serrano Studio, Miñarro García and Javier Esteban: Truy modern retro look. This is a design fit to replace the old routemaster. It has all the charming characteristics of the old routemaster yet it inspires modern comfort and design with a sturdy build. Would like to know why the judges threw this one out…
    2)Aston Martin and Foster + Partners: Hardly surprising win due to the bigshot names behind this entry however it is probably the most innovative entry in the competition and certainly worth exploring its potential for manufactoring. I like the symmetry in the rounded ends! Truly futuristic design without overengineering. I like!
    3)Capoco Design Ltd: This entry belongs in the runners up. It has the hideous coach-like square body of the existing doubledecker buses combined with the routemaster look in the front and back. The result is a clunky looking bastardised version of a routemaster.
    4)Jamie Martin: We’re not looking for a Ferrari lookalike in a bus, nor are we planning to make these things fly around London. Seriously, this is overengineered! It looks half like a coach and then it has a ridiculous small nose at the front. This one lost the competition from go. Should’nt even be with the runners up.

  • Will M

    The team who will run the project are TFL who are still the same guys under Ken so will dilute the design. The main problem with modern buses are the vibrations- The old buses were solid and comfortable- and just before Ken axed them they all had a major refurb with modern transmissions and were so smooth and fast!- what a waste of money and so glad Ken got chucked out.

  • Azm

    4th image looks a bit like a new design,rest all are in existence, so why include them in competition?& why call this a competition??

  • blank

    … spot the inverse product placement. James Bond drives an Aston Martin in the movies now rife with product endorsement. So they whack an ad for the new movie on the side of the winning entry, to return the favour?

    Looks like a certain Tank Engine – Let’s get Ringo Starr doing the announcements.

    Anyway – no mention of increased seating, crowd reduction when entering / exiting or the fact that a spiral staircase on a moving bus is a litigators dream. The old routemaster was retired for a number of good reasons – if it was so good – why was it retired?

    Hang on – maybe this is a bus that takes you back in time, rather than further into the future…

  • Jon

    Just a small point… Ken didn’t personally axe the original routemasters. They had to be discontinued for some lame, EU ruling over health and safetly. Stupid people, apparently, can fall out the back.
    He did bring in the Bendies, however, which is arguably the worst thing he did whilst in office.
    Boris, on the other hand, is frankly an embarrassment and has very little interest in Londoners’ quality of life, so expect a U-turn on anything nice-related.

  • Martin

    The fourth one down looks ok, but the others are dreadfully depressing. Maybe Postman Pat would be happy driving one.. but I feel sorry for any real life bus driver who has to.

  • miss plastic

    no,no,no…no FOSTER BUS!!! …no way…I start walking!!! I call for a new competition!… something special but not a comupter smoothed version of the old roadmaster. thats rubbish!

  • tom

    The problem is the brief; there is nothing but the open back entrance that distinguishes what is required from ordinary an double decker, or which we have plenty and designs work well. The designer is only garnishing a utilitarian machine to suit a mayor’s fancy which will always end up looking like a polished turd.

  • ScaffoldCT

    All the inevitable Foster-bashers come out on here… how very 2008 of them.

    Personally, I think the F+P/Aston Martin bus looks great.
    I’d drive it.

  • Ivo Valadares

    I’ve never been in London and many other european citys have or had buses like these.

    It’s an urban ICON indid for the city of London. The thing I don’t understand is if it was suposed to be a new bus, why looks like the old one? The competition is for a new bus and not for a redesign. About the winner…

    I’m missing the technical solutions.

    Kind regards

  • I think the winning entry is shown at an unflattering angle, even though it should really look great from every angle! The other pictures I’ve seen of it actually look quite nice. Typical that other Brits are complaining about this design, it’s amazing we ever design anything good with the amount of complaining that goes on!

  • Jac

    What oldfashioned! Try something new.
    You can see that its only old wine in new sacks!

    Try something modern with better capacity per m2.


  • lana

    i find all these projects “retouch” of old ones.
    i would love to see a NEW project, a NEW bus, another icon to london.
    a bus is a bus, no doubt, but i’m sure it is possible to cross the boundaries.

  • Alaink, Paris, France

    Am I the only one to notice that fosters design has the 2nd floor of the bus “floating” on nothing else but glass?

  • why dont they make a routmaster that has new tech but looks just like the old one like the exterior and interior are the same only a better engine/braking etc..

  • Were the designers names shown next to their efforts when judged and if so in future make sure they are not so a level playing field can be created as a lot of comments seem to favour the designers name won and not the best design.
    Taking on board {pun intended.get the laughs when you can} some London bus users comments maybe it would be a good idea to have a provisional design winner overlooked by users to aid a final winner to be chosen therefore maybe a fantastic concept could not prove such a dissapointment when drastic changes are made to the final production model.

  • wtf

    like wat the fuck the third bus is boom but all the rest is like whoaaaa!!…..:(

  • I like design bus.Its good that london keeps that tradition of the red busses

  • lookalike in a bus, nor are we planning to make these things fly around London. Seriously, this is overengineered! It looks half like a coach and then it has a ridic

  • I've never been in London and many other european citys have or had buses like these.

    It's an urban ICON indid for the city of London. The thing I don't understand is if it was suposed to be a new bus, why looks like the old one? The competition is for a new bus and not for a redesign. About the winner…)))

  • Mark Johnson

    Well, here we are several years after those six designs were put forward, and the final product looks nothing like any of them! The new bus for London looks like its based on one of the current crop of London bus chassis, only longer & with hop on – hop off facility (optional). The original entries 'above' were all variations on the theme "Routemaster" where as the New Bus for London is definately not a Routemaster, there are faint echoes though . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • I made a bus trip with these kind of bus it's really high up there i love it i made the trip on London i can remember the fun time!

  • It’s good that London keeps that tradition of the red buses.