What is happening to our bus stops?
Lately, some bus stops in Canberra have been subjected to drastic remodelling. Many bus stops situated around Canberra feature a round, cream and orange coloured, concrete shelter. These bus shelters are considered to be Canberra icons as they are unlike any other in Australia, however these icons are under threat of being removed and replaced with generic bus shelters made of aluminium and glass.
Designed by highly regarded, local Canberran architect, Clem Cummings (1934 – 1997), the cream and orange bus shelters first appeared at Canberra bus stops in 1975. Cummings was a prominent figure in the architecture profession and has an award dedicated to him known as the Clem Cummings Medal that recognises contributions by persons to architecture and the public interest.
The concrete bus shelters were designed during the ‘Brutalist’ period of architecture. Brutalism is the label retrospectively given to a style of architecture that flourished in the 1960s and 1970s. It is perhaps, most characterised by heavy expanses of exposed concrete and virtually no other decorations, a style these bus shelters emulate. They have been characterised by locals with colourful names such as: ‘The Tanks’, ‘The Pill Boxes’, and ‘The Concrete Bunkers’. You may find, however, that a lot of these ‘Brutalist’ bus shelters have beautiful artist murals that give it an added individual charm.
If you have not been able to appreciate the character these bus shelters exude, perhaps the next time you come across one, take some time to examine it a little more closely. You may be surprised to notice that even its simple geometric shape compliments the garden suburb personality of Canberra’s street environments.
These concrete bus stops have become a recognisable and familiar feature of Canberra’s suburban landscape, leaving an imprint on the minds of residents and visitors alike. The fact that these bus shelters still serve their practical purpose well raises questions about the rationale of having them ripped out and replaced. When he designed Canberra, Walter Burley Griffin stated: “I have designed a city that is not like any other in the world.”
Although that legacy remains today, it is under threat. In this particular example the threat is in the form of your stereotypical bus shelter made of aluminium and glass that can be found everywhere else outside of Canberra.
Have your say – please share your stories and experiences you have had with these concrete bus shelters.
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