A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios


A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios

Here are some more photos of the prototype of Thomas Heatherwick's redesign of the iconic routemaster bus for London, unveiled last week as reported on Dezeen Wire

A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios

The design incorporates two staircases and three doors, including a hop-on-hop-off platform at the back of the bus.

A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios

Seven more of the double-deckers will be put into service on route 38 in February 2012.

A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios

Read more about the launch in our story on Dezeen Wire, see renders of Heatherwick’s design that were unveiled in May 2010 in our earlier story here and check out designs for the competition back in 2008 here.

A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios

Photographs are copyright Heatherwick Studio unless otherwise stated.

A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios

Here are some more details from Heatherwick Studio:

New Bus for London

In January 2010, Heatherwick Studio joined the team leading the design of a New Bus for London. The project marks the first time in more than 50 years that TFL has commissioned and overseen the development of a bus built specifically for the capital.

A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios

Above photo is by Iwan Baan

Working alongside specialist bus manufacturer, Wrightbus, the external design has been developed to reflect the functional requirements of the vehicle. A long asymmetric front window provides the driver with clear kerbside views, while a wrapped glazing panel reflects passenger circulation – bringing more daylight into the bus and offering views out over London.

A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios

By incorporating an open platform at its rear, the bus reinstates one of the much-loved features of the 1950s Routemaster which offered a ‘hop-on hop-off’ service. The new design will also have three doors and two staircases, making it quicker and easier for passengers to board. In engineering terms, the New Bus for London will be 15 per cent more fuel efficient than the existing hybrid buses and 40 per cent more efficient than conventional diesel double-deckers.

A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios

Thomas Heatherwick said: "It has been 50 years since a bus was last designed and commissioned specifically for London.  This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a team to look again at the opportunities for a new open-platform bus.  It has been an honour to be asked by London's transport authority to take an integrated approach and design everything that you see and experience from the outside down to the tiniest details of the interior."

A New Bus for London by Heatherwick Studios

Designs for the new bus were unveiled by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, in May 2010. The full-size mock up of the new Bus for London has now been relocated to the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden and will be on display until June 2011. A prototype, developed and manufactured by Wrightbus, has just been delivered in November 2011 and the first five buses are due to enter passenger service in early 2012.

  • andrew

    Still awful. Sorry I can't stand this glorified student project. 1m pound each!
    Reinventions on the whole tend to be a waste of space and only satisfy the stuffy old people trying to regain something of their rose tinted youth. If your going to make something new/modern don't in your first steps go backwards. Merry Christmas.

  • galessa

    The venting grills on the back are a letdown, as is the pattern on the seats' fabric.

    • Benny Blanco

      Unless, your willing to travel without any aircon – the grills are a functional part!
      But you do bring a point, they could've redesigned them to look far more modern & aesthetic! I have to agree with you too on the seat fabric kaleidoscope, somehow doesn't tie in – I looks as if it was done to hide or distract the seats from looking dirty or grimy at some point soon.
      I do fancy the outer shape though, and the rear platform and staircase has something pleasant going. Not too over the Top my good man, I say!

      • galessa

        I surelly meant the vents should look anything else and not disappear, as long as they are so obviously functional. They simply look as borowed from a bad design from the 1930s.

  • The design brief must have been tight.

  • JeffK

    Sure, its not perfect, but generally I think it looks great, especially from the back.
    More exciting than any other bus I can think of
    Can't wait to hop on one

    • carl

      the back of a bus generates advertising space. on this design its gone.

      • Guy

        good. Advertising is annoying.

  • ol1

    looks like a bus.

  • archi

    Transport for those who can't afford a new Mini or a new Beetle.

  • airborn

    It seems that Boris & co conservative idea's prevailed above a much more interesting approach from Foster's. London buses after the iconic route-master have been drab and they continue to be so.

  • TheLast Word

    Very dissapointing. I can appreciate that the budget must have been challenging but I thought Foster and Partners winning scheme for the original competition was much better as it was a far more rigorous and timeless design (their partly solar-powered electric bus for Kew done in the early 90's was a wonderful example of form follows function). This seems concerned with fashion over function, often the case with Heatherwicks designs.

  • Bruce Rowley

    No open windows??? And how's a bet there's no aircon …

    • Kat

      According to the spec there's an air-control system – not sure how that fits in with it's green credentials.

  • Jakov

    It looks like a pirate :-)

  • alex

    Let's be positive – it's a hell of a lot better than what London has currently got.

  • tony

    horrible. sorry, i like heatherwick usually.

  • Donkey

    Please in your comments mention if you;re a Londoner or not.

  • Joey

    Joey Loves it. Bring it to Essex

  • csparrott

    this is a modern design because it's made of curves.

  • on the buses

    retro futurism anyone? the whole project is a mess. a competition was held and an agency appointed who didn't win the competition who then reshaped the front and back for no obvious benefit. looks like flight of the navigator landed in london…an icon for everything wrong with design and the tender process and guess who's paid for it. yep. yum.

  • i dont understand why there are TWO staircases and THREE doors?! this seems like a huge waste of space….

    boris has got rid of the bend busses, and one of the main reasons was fare dodging, so now we will have a double decker bus with three doors (the same as a bend bus had!), how is a driver to control fare dodgers?!

    get rid of the central staircase and doors, then we are onto a winner! All the rest is aesthetics and personal opinion and to be honest doesnt make any difference! the bus should be practical above all else….

    from a londoner

    • Donkey

      Fare dodging wasn't the only reason for ousting the bendy buses – clogging up the tight streets. and the added danger posed to cyclists were also strong contenders.

      But surely with the hop-on/off open rear there needs to be conductors again to tell the driver when to set off? In which case fare-checking can be manually administered, like in the old days.

    • Londoner2

      I live in London, and this will not work. People will just jump on at the
      back door without paying and the driver will not be able to do anything about it. Because they will just run straight up stairs. Not considered and a very obvious hats of to the past. It's what a student would do! The only good thing is the engine saving fuel! and that would have been the bus company not Heatherwick studio.

  • Londoner

    I love it! Proud again to be a Londoner. Just check out the attention to detail – and compare that to the next bus you take a ride on! Its a modern icon, respectfully based on the original routemaster – something that no Londoner EVER wanted to lose!! Bravo HS!

  • Out of town

    Did they take influence from the nissan cube?? And what's with the hideous interior…upholstery is blinding.

  • LOW

    I don't understand what all the fuss is about, I wish MY city (Mexico City) would put THAT much effort in the design of our public transport system, these new buses are quite gorgeous, and they're on time and efficient, you English should be proud of your public transport system!

    GO HS!

    • makemake

      London transport and the public transport for the rest are England are totally different. I live in Cornwall and the public transport here is not good, but we are pleasant and courteous patrons!

  • Form

    Its not very well detailed. For the expertise that Britain has in terms of architecture, design and engineering, I'd expect a much better product – something that reflects those British qualities.

    Slapping a few curves on an old system does not make a better product unfortunately.

  • SDS

    Now I understand why everybody is trying to hide away the front so hard. …at first glance I thought the back is the front … which looks pretty good …but actually … is not. …hmm …wonder why.

  • I saw the prototype parked outside Stratford city; it has such an alluring presence. Its a shame that there is such negativity towards this design. Lets be proud that this beautiful design will journey London for years to come.

  • rock

    its great to keep an icon alive.
    however i think thomas subliminally thought of lady gaga with that asymmetrical, rounded rear end (of the bus).

  • Mengel

    Seriously I'm wondering if those "Bus designers" ever really experience the horror of Buses when on the road.

    Those Signal Lights is too small for this kind of huge monster, and it's a huge treat to the Road users especially when the weather is bad! No wonder there's increasing numbers of accidents involving Buses.

  • Global Londoner

    love it ! especially love the window design, got on the prototype on the day it launched, when you walk down from the back staircase the view is simply amazing.

    Nice and high quality interior details. Looking forwad to the 1st no.38 to be on the street next year !

  • gregorylent

    crack one of those curved windows, replacement costs = an old bus.

    and the photos don't show the 7 cctv cameras on every bus. #surveillancestate

  • Londoner

    Hopefully the time will show the result. Though I share the opinion that the bus should be practical above all else.

  • Roger Rettig

    Super! It has some elegance and style – at last we can bury the memory of those ugly DMS buses! no doubt there'll be teething problems (the first RMs were plagued with problems) because there's so much untried technology involved, but I'm excited at the prospect! (Question: Is the RM more 'iconic' than the RT? I don't think so…


  • E55

    Two comments: 1) Where does the driver sit? 2) There appears (no pun intended) to be a huge blindspot created by the red diagonal band across the front. Why is that necessary? What is behind it?

  • paul Browne

    Boris is a legend!! First the Boris bikes now this iconic bus. It looks sublime from every angle in and out. Its state of the art too with class leading fuel economy and emissions levels. I'd wager that when this beauty hits the streets it will be a massive hit. Two fingers to crony Ken and his Labour has been's. He had his chance and blew it. Well Done Boris, thanks to your vision bus users in the capital finally have something good to look forward to.

  • xtiaan

    gosh, its all bit steampunky art nouveau inside…

  • SaTeSiDe

    I am from the US and Manchester is as close to London as I have been, but from a purely transit perspective this bus strikes me as silly. It is near to a Routemaster in styling (hardly new) but includes design details that look difficult and expensive to maintain. Simple clean lines that are as un-noticed tomorrow as they are today, please. That is my stateside view, I may be ignorant of London transport, but something Spartan and practical impresses me the most.

  • felixfatfunk

    I am a Londoner, grew up with previous two Routemasters, always loved the jump on/off rear as a kid, many dares went wrong i might add. The interior colour of the stairwell is perfect, as is the seating. When the new buses started to came in the 70's they were terrible tiny things that fell apart. This looks substantial and if it last as well as the R/M's then Boza is onto a winner, the tourists will love them.
    I appreciate you can't please all the people all the time, but so better and iconic than the buses we have at the moment.

    Now who has the bottle to bring back the Moggy Minor??

  • Zino

    Yeah… it's horrible. London deserves better!
    *calls Bloomberg to tell him to snag rejected London Transit busses at steep discount… lovely in NYC*

    In other words, there's a lot of poncey potshots in this thread. Not perfect, but it's brill to get this much at the end of a civic design project.

  • Kat

    While it looks nice I can forsee some problems with how it will work, the key one being NO OPENING WINDOWS! According to the (limited) spec on the TFL website (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/corporate/new-bus-leaflet.pdf) it will have an 'climate-controlled air system'. How does this fit with its environmental credentials? The greenest way to cool a bus in summer is to have opening windows in the front so the air is drawn through, such as the old routemasters had.

    Even on the existing buses the drivers can't seem to operate the temperature controls or they're always broken: boiling hot heaters on during boiling hot summer days, no heating on during freezing days. At least in summer we can open the windows to get some fresh air in! And then the night bus – I think of those times people have vomited on the bus having drank too much. At least we could open the windows to get some air, but now the lovely smell of vomit will no doubt be circulated around the bus through the 'climate-control air system' for all the smell!

    As a Londoner I get the bus everyday, and have done for the last 10 years. While I believe in innovation and I like shiny new things as much as the next person, the existing fleet of double-deckers that have replaced the bendy buses work fine, and surely there are more important things to spend the money on right now?? (Reducing child poverty, homelessness to name but two)

    p.s. to the guy who congratulated Boris on the Barclays cycle hire scheme, the original idea for a cycle hire scheme was actually Ken's, it's just he didnt want to sell copious advertising space to a bank at a way-below market rate, oh and at a rate that wasn't tendered for in any way for.

  • iBouc

    In just a few years, the pure aesthetic of this bus design will be even more outdated than today. Its pseudo moderne glass strip is highly kitch. This external over-design is spreading in the design of public transports, everywhere, the interior design being guided by the costs of operating and maintenance.

  • amir

    power rangers bus :P if you take an image of it's back and copy mirror it you get a power rangers mask

  • All I can say is this bus amazing. This looks so expensive.

  • Terry Houng

    "a wrapped glazing panel reflects passenger circulation – bringing more daylight into the bus"

    Except it doesn't.

    If you look at the 5th picture from the top, it shows a man sitting in a gloomy corner of a bus looking up at a cold white LED light. It is daylight outside.

    Normal London buses have no special 'wrap around' styling that blocks out light on the top deck. This design is ridiculous.

  • David H

    Passengers are complaining that the air-con doesn’t work, some of the seats downstairs are difficult to climb into, the diesel engine when in use is noisy, the ceiling upstairs is too low, and they are confused about which entrance to use (you can enter by all three) and which stairs to use.

    There have also been unconfirmed reports that it is not as economical on fuel or as environmentally friendly as the designers hoped. TfL has been very quiet about this.
    However, any new design will suffer initial problems. The first Routemaster had problems with overheating engines, unreliable brakes, and failure of the cabin heating. All were sorted out within the first year. Hopefully the new bus will be the same.