“Here to There” was a year-long final-year project at the American University of Beirut that started with an in-depth research paper and culminated in a design project.
The research evolved around understanding and studying the current situation of the Public Transportation Sector in Lebanon, specifically the Public Bus System. Through observation, the bus system in Lebanon could be described as unmaintained and underdeveloped but still depended on by certain social classes.
Working-class and lower-class citizens are the familiar faces of the bus system and, throughout the years, these users have developed a lexicon of their own that helps them maneuver through this unorthodox transportation scheme. Their very dependence on the current system became the basis of this project. “Here to There” embraced their lexicon and used it as the starting point. Using the insights and observations of the current system and users, combining it with the fundamental rules and components of a proper wayfinding system, the design project’s objectives became clearer.
Being pro-inclusivity and against gentrification, “Here to There” acknowledged the public transportation sector rather than starting a new system from scratch. It respected the context in which it appeared (space, language, etc.) and worked accordingly. It also aimed at enticing the higher “non-familiar” classes to at least acknowledge the system and its services.
The intention was not to create default bus stations with typical maps, but rather create a highly flexible design “movement” or platform that grows with time, while having the local lexicon as its “Rosetta Stone.” This platform allows the possibility of creating new bus stops, specific signs, unconventional yet understandable icons, new sign productions and implementation methods.
Mia Azar, Ahmad Gharbieh
3IND RIAD, BAAL