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School Bus Stop

Bus shelter made from a recycled school bus in Athens, GA. By artist Christopher Fennell (Photo Sustainable Cities Collective via Sleeping Bear on Flickr)

Bus shelter made from a recycled school bus in Athens, GA. By artist Christopher Fennell. Photo Sustainable Cities Collective via Sleeping Bear on Flickr.

Artist Christopher Fennell created this bus stop (made from three separate school buses from the 60’s and 70’s) as an art installation in Athens, GA.  Not only does the piece add some playfulness to a wide, car-dominated boulevard, it provides shade for those waiting for the bus, making waiting a more comfortable experience.

Das Lego Bridge

Lego bridge in Wuppertal, Germany by Megx. Photo by Lukas Power and Rolf Dellenbusch via This is Colossal

Lego bridge in Wuppertal, Germany by Megx. Photo by Lukas Power and Rolf Dellenbusch via This is Colossal

Street artist Megx has transformed the underside of a bridge in Wuppertal, Germany to look like a bridge made of legos.

The bridge is painted as an optical illusion (the surfaces are flat) and transforms a blank space in to a space of delight and wonder.

The Umbrellas of Águeda

A colorful canopy of umbrellas, a part of the Agitagueda art festival in Águeda, Portugal. Photo by Patrícia Almeida

A colorful canopy of umbrellas, a part of the Agitagueda art festival in Águeda, Portugal. Photo by Patrícia Almeida

At this year’s Agitagueda art festival in  Águeda, Portugal, the city council commissioned a canopy of colorful umbrellas to hang over one of the city streets. Photographer  Patrícia Almeida says “I felt like a kid, amazed by all that color!”

Not only do these beautiful umbrellas add a sense of playfulness to this street but they add a ton of shade, making strolling down this pedestrian street on a warm day a much more comfortable experience.

Public art can create a destination, a gathering place, a refuge, inspiration and a sense of civic pride and it’s wonderful to see local government supporting and encouraging such dynamic public art projects like this one.

A colorful canopy of umbrellas, a part of the Agitagueda art festival in Águeda, Portugal. Photo by Patrícia Almeida

A colorful canopy of umbrellas, a part of the Agitagueda art festival in Águeda, Portugal. Photo by Patrícia Almeida

99 Tiny Games in London

Showtime, a free outdoor arts festival in London presented by the Mayor of London and the  London 2012 Festival  just wrapped up “99 Tiny Games” (running from July 28th – August 20th) which spread small games with instructions for individuals and groups in public spaces all over London’s 33 boroughs.

Photo via Pop Up City

Photo via Pop Up City

These games took place in a variety of urban spaces including metro station walls, under archways, near statues and at bus stops.
Showtime says  their motivation for this series was inspired by their “belief that play – as a theme, art form, way of being and design tool – is integral to understanding how culture will develop in the 21st century.”

This is a great example of how we can inexpensively contribute to lively public spaces and joyful experiences in our cities.

Pop Up Swings

Pop Up Swings in London. Photo via Sustainable Cities Collective

Pop Up Swings in London. Photo via Sustainable Cities Collective.

Today I found this image of “Pop Up Swings” installed near bus stop in London. This swing set was designed up industrial design student Bruno Taylor who says: “This project is a study into different ways of bringing play back into public space. It focuses on ways of incorporating incidental play in the public realm by not so much as having separate play equipment that dictates the users but by using existing furniture and architectural elements that indicate playful behaviour for all.”

Similar projects have popped up around the globe (including the more formalized The Red Swing Project) and all tap in to similar ideas. The great thing about installing these delightful swings at a bus stop is that they can help to activate a drab public space by introducing playfulness and they also function as an incentive to ride pubic transportation.

How? Well, you know the expression “time flies when you’re having fun”? Having a joyful activity like to Pop Up Swings to watch or participate in while waiting for the bus will make your wait time seem shorter and shorter wait times incentivize the use of public transportation because the wait will not feel as burdensome (especially if you are accompanied by children, seniors or are carrying a heavy load) and makes the experience of waiting for public transportation less intimidating.