Design Museum Design Awards '12 Transport Nominees

Now in its fifth year, the Designs of the Year Awards at the seminal and somewhat eco-conscious Design Museum continues to highlight the most innovative, useful and beautiful designs of the last year.  Located on the cuff of the now suave Butler's Wharf, the Designs of the Year exhibition showcases nominations from an eclectic body of design disciplines including, as you might expect, Transport.  Previous winners of the Transport category award range from the Barclays Cycle Hire system - designed by TFL and Serco and now ubiquitous in Central London, to the Mex-x Wheelchair for Children, which was designed by Meyra-Ortopedia in Germany.  From Massoud Hassani's wind-powered landmine clearance device to Sarah Burton's wedding dress for the Duchess of Cambridge, this year’s panel of judges will have their work cut out.  Below is the story in the Transport category.

There's a few well-known projects in the Transport category, notably the Parisian car hire scheme Autolib'.  Bertrand Delanoë's concept, now operational, has the potential to lessen Paris's congestion to the tune of 22,000 cars and despite some teething problems the scheme has set a precedent in car sharing. 

Paris Electric Car Sharing Autolib'

If you're not familiar with Bike Hangar, prepare for imminent acquaintance.  Answering the problem posed by increased cycling yet inadequate bicycle storage facilities, this novel and Ferris wheel-esque contraption can store up to 36 bikes without compromising space in already cluttered city-centres.  Designed by New York based Manifesto Architecture, the first full-size prototype was installed at the 2011 Gwanju Design Biennale in Seoul.  Don't be surprised to stumble upon one soon.

 Bike Hangar by Manifesto Architecture

Whilst you could plead ignorance in regard to Bike Hanger, you really should be familiar with the mia electric by now.  This three-seater, zero-emissions, pocket-sized EV is the brain-child of former VW design boss Murat Günak and ex-Bertone design chief David Wilkie - a fairly formidable combination I'm sure you'll agree.  With a surprisingly spacious interior the mia is a packaging marvel and doesn't try to disguise itself as something else.  An 80-mile range and top speed of 68mph mark the mia's natural habitat out as the city and it certainly plays to its strengths.  Charming.

mia electric

Conspicuous by its absence was Gordon Murray's T27.  Wrought in roughly the same mould as the mia, this pure EV shares the three seat layout as well as comparable performance and economy figures.  The real party-piece, however, lies in the T27's nose-hinged door.  Other party-pieces include comfortable seating for three adults despite dimensions smaller than those of a Smart ForTwo and an (equivalent) economy of 350mpg on the recent Brighton to London Future Car Challenge.  Three party pieces is probably enough for such a small car.

Gordon Murray's T27

Arguably the most curious, if not outright relevant, entry in the Transport category comes from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and Vehicle Design Department at the Royal College of Art.  This redesign for the emergency ambulance focused on 360-degree access to the patient and interior efficiently.  Those responsible for the design spent long hours on ambulance shifts getting an insight from crews and patients.  Furthermore, this took course over a period of six years - that's commitment.

Ambulance Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and Vehicle Design Department

The remaining pair of Transport nominees fall slightly outside our remit in that they're both from the aeronautic sphere.  They are, however, both worthy of mention.  Firstly, the Taurus Electro G4, hailing from Slovenia, is the first electric four-seat aeroplane in the world.  The concept of this entry blew me away - near-silent flight and no direct emissions with a cost of £5 for every two hours of flight surely leads the way for the future of low-emission air travel.  Boeing's 787 Dreamliner completes the lineup and with extensive use of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic as opposed to aluminium, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions have been cut by 20%, quite a feat when considering the colossal dimensions involved.

Taurus Electro G4

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner

Category award winners and the overall winner will be announced at an Awards event in April.  Place your bets. 

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