Extreme Makeover: TheBus Edition

This year, TheBus will retire 28 40-foot TMC RTS buses and 12 35-foot TMC RTS buses, according to the City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services.

If those buses are in good mechanical repair, then why not turn them into temporary housing? The buses are mobile, durable, secure, and private. We just need to make them comfortable.

In April 2010, the “UH Go Green Fashion Competition” challenged Apparel Product Design & Merchandising (APDM) students at the University of Hawaii to turn recycled junk into “Trash Chic.” Why not buses?

Here’s my idea for a house-bus design challenge, with an emphasis on recycling, reusing, and repurposing building materials and household goods:

1. Buses would be stripped of all seating and handrails. Only the driver’s seat would remain, though teams may choose to reupholster or replace the chair.

2. We could open the design contest to students, government departments, home building and furnishing companies, and non-profit organizations. The contest could be sponsored by the Department of Housing and other agencies.

3. Each design team would have a budget of $500 for materials (paint, flooring, wall coverings, window finishes, lighting, and furniture). All work must be done by the team, except for any electrical work. The goal is to recycle, reuse, and repurpose items in order to save money and minimize waste.

4. The home design must address two needs: waking (with areas for work, study, and dining) and sleeping (for 2-5 people).

5. When the challenge is complete, teams would submit a floor plan, receipts, and explanations for how items were recycled, reused, or repurposed.

Not only would this let us find a new use for retired buses and give homeless families a temporary place to live, it would also challenge all of us about how much we throw away.

I don’t know how we would choose the families who would use these temporary shelters, or how long they could stay there, or even where they could park these mobile homes. Let’s talk about it! 

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