An ingenious concept which transforms a bus shelter into a smart solution to help the homeless has earned a creative student a coveted design award, writes Chris Fidler.
The Hub, which has been devised by University of Northampton Graphic Communication undergraduate Taylar Wong, aims to connect homeless people with the digital world via the advertising screens commonly found on London’s bus shelters.
By day, the bus shelter screens would carry advertising, but at night, they would become interactive, allowing homeless people to connect with the online side of society.
Watch a video explaining Taylar’s concept on the D&AD website.
Taylar’s ideas for the screen content include a map showing the location of relevant facilities, such as hostels, soup kitchens, public toilets, showers, water fountains and medical centres.
The screens would also provide daily news updates; severe weather warnings; information about potentially disruptive events, such as football matches in the area; local events for the homeless, such as free meals, plus a directory of services that can offer help with housing, addiction and sexual health, for example.
There would also be scope to introduce a booking system for hostels and hosting email accounts.
The Hub has been a hit with judges at the D&AD New Blood Awards 2018, which recognise creative talent around the world. They rewarded Taylar with a New Blood title – her second gong from D&AD within a year.
In 2017 she was part of a team which picked up a coveted Wooden Pencil award for a party game concept:
Taylar’s inspiration for The Hub came when she was in Germany at Christmas.
She said: “They have a scheme over there which gave out food tokens in exchange for rubbish. This meant homeless people could clean up the streets, and in return, earn some money or food.
“I thought this was great as it allowed them to help themselves, and kept the streets clean too. I wondered why we didn’t have anything like that over here. I then went to look into the issues that homeless people face in the UK, and realised a lot of the issues stem from them being offline, in an increasingly digital world. It all kind of fell into place from there really.”
Taylar added: “It was really unexpected to win a New Blood award, especially for the second year in a row, but I’m really glad the judges liked my idea.
“It feels great to be acknowledged by such a great organisation and will look great on my CV too. I’m looking forward to attending the award ceremony and finding out which level of pencil award I’ve won, it’s all very exciting.”
Once the awards are done and dusted, Taylar is hoping her concept might catch the eye of an organisation which would be willing to develop it.
She said: “I think it could be a great way to help those in need, and wouldn’t be that hard to implement. Plus the fact it could carry paid advertising would appeal to companies who want to get involved with a good cause. Perhaps someone will get in touch about it later on, I’d love to help develop it further.”