Every major city in the world has a network of public phone booths on most streets. However, with the spread of mobile phones, these urban objects became obsolete, and in many places, they act as urban trash bins or public toilets. So MINI China, in collaboration with Changning District Government, Anomaly & Assbook, commissioned the Chinese studio 100architects to redesign old phone booths in Shanghai to make them relevant to the demands of our time.
100architects: “We were hired to rethink the role of those urban objects in our contemporary city with the current needs and conditions of the real potential users of today. After analyzing the booths, the answer was clear. We had to turn them into urban mini capsules that facilitate interaction among people. In the past, they did not only offer a phone to make calls, they also provided shelter for the person using it, a roof, an enclosed space, a sense of privacy. That intrinsic ability to generate a space is what we were mostly interested in and wanted to replicate in a contemporary way.”
Three different prototypes were created, corresponding to three different sizes of the booths. The architects removed the front part of each booth and opened them to the pedestrian sidewalk, turning into modern public furniture and establishing a dialog with the rest of the public realm. Inside, new interior structures were inserted, providing a number of modern functions: free wifi connection, free USB charging sockets, sitting arrangement, newspaper rack, coffee table, reading lights at night, and an emergency public phone.
The new interior surfaces feature a striking orange color to make a strong contrast to the old metal shells, which were kept and repainted in matte black in order to keep a major resemblance to the preexisting phone booths. Three other sides were also modified, featuring LED diffusive light boxes to make the entire booth glow at night.
Currently, there are five renovated phone booth units distributed along the historical Yuyuan Road in Shanghai. The architects gave a new life to these obsolete urban relics and made them meet the needs of modern citizens by giving them new functions and contemporary look.
PROJECT TITLE: Orange Phone booths
DESIGN: 100architects (Shanghai)
DESIGN TEAM: Marcial Jesus & Javier Gonzalez (100architects)
PRODUCTION: Hong Yang Advertising (Shanghai) + 100architects (Shanghai)
CLIENT: MINI China / Anomaly Shanghai
LOCATION: Yuyuan Road, Changning District, Shanghai, China
AREA: 5 units in a 950 meters long street
PHOTOS: Amey Kandalgaonkar