Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I THINK the Buck Rogers looking French tram (the French always like Buck Rogers) seen below looks bad next to the French buildings and in turn makes them look bad. The Viennese have also gone Futuristic, but look at their previous three generations, in the third video. Don't they fit the city better?
Some Swiss trams follow (after a lot of ugly buses, you can advance to the middle of the video), and then an interesting ride through some narrow streets in Lisbon.
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That ugly futuristic one is made by Bombardier, a French Canadian company. It's interesting that Montreal's subway looks very French, while Toronto's looks English.
Posted by: steve at Dec 18, 2007 2:58:09 AM
I agree, I like the older versions better. I don't hate the new ones though. They would have done better if less sleek & shiny- it is a little jarring. Love the Lisbon video.
Posted by: Gizler at Dec 18, 2007 12:39:47 PM
Trams look good to me if
1. The mechanicals work.
2. They go to the right places, and often enough that people ride them instead of driving.
3. They are safe from crime.
The ugliest tram is cuter than auto traffic.
Posted by: David Sawyer at Dec 18, 2007 10:50:04 PM
While I find the Lisbon vehicles delightful, I totally disagree that the Strasbourg vehicles are ugly -- I find them quite gorgeous. (Do you find modern windmills ugly too?) The Europeans, who are comfortable with the knowledge that they have a long history, are at the same time comfortable about combining the new with the old. The Strasbourg vehicles are also very 21st Century, incorporating low-floors that make them totally handicapped accessible (important considering the aging of our population). We would love to be able to use them on Manhattan's 42nd Street, as shown on the vision42.org website.
Posted by: Roxanne Warren at Dec 24, 2007 2:08:54 PM
I've lived and worked in England, Germany, France and Italy. The issue is not "what Europeans think" -- fifty-million Frenchmen can be wrong. Think Jerry Lewis, and what Ada Louise Huxtable rightly called "the worst modern architecture in the world."*
Vision42 looks great and is a good and important idea. I hope you succeed. I think your renderings would look even better and persuade more people if you substituted other Modern streetcars for the ones shown -- some of those new ones are among our best industrial design today. I don't mean the old ones in Lisbon, but I dont' mean the futuristic ones either, which the French have long had a weakness for.
I think you're missing my point, which is that the French Buck Rogers ones do not look good in front of the old buildings, and make those buildings look bad. In today's PC parlance, they're "exclusive."
Trams are good. When there are many good-looking ones manufactured today, there is no reason to choose one that's not good looking.
I've recently ridden new cars in northern New Jersey and in Boston. The New Jersey cars were well designed, and we rode them just for the experience of riding them. The Boston cars were poorly designed and had ugly interior finishes, like fake wood panels. I walked more than I would have if the cars had been more pleasing.
Take a look at the book over in the right column by Donald Norman, Emotional Design: Why We Love (Or Hate) Every Day Things.Well designed trams improve the quality of everyday life and make us want to ride the trams. Ugly trams detract from the everyday life and make us look for alternative means of getting somewhere, like the car.
There are many reasons why public transportation is so little used in America. One of the lesser ones (that will become more important as gas prices climb), is that the auto lobby and auto companies succussfully worked to tear out tram lines and replace the streetcars with noisy, ugly, unpleasant buses. To get people back into public transportation, we want to make the experience as pleasant and alluring as possible.
For that, design matters.
*BTW, European architects say America is more accepting of Modernism, and they're probably right.
Posted by: john at Dec 26, 2007 11:40:13 AM