Shanghai smart booth is the result of a collaboration of collaborations that brings back memories of the telephone booth. This project is the result of the second collaboration between 100architects and China Telecom, in which Orange Phone Booths was training to transform old relics into functional furniture, and this time the designers wanted to go beyond that.
Once telephone booths had quite an important history, these public services played a large role in connecting thousands of people across cities and countries, but recently they seem to have disappeared from the face of the urban scene. The surviving telephone booths in Shanghai are now seen as telecommunications relics, forgotten, neglected, and sometimes miserably vandalized.
Shanghai smart booth is a unique urban artefact powered by solar panels on its roof, a state-of-the-art design that demonstrates the limitless potential of creative thinking about urban landscapes and the public realm.
The new smart phone booth has now become a new urban lifestyle. Equipped with various features, the Shanghai phone booth version is technologically enhanced to meet the needs of the progressively tech-savvy population as well as the safety needs of seniors who may still remember using the phone booth for their own needs.
The telephone booth allows users access to three minutes of free phone calls. In addition, the red phone booth offers round-the-clock Wi-Fi hotspot, 5G transceiver, wireless charging for mobile devices, as well as USB connectivity, a touch screen with city map and an easy one-click taxi calling service. The panic button along with artificial intelligence features such as facial recognition are meant to help parents and address concerns about missing parents in China.
Designing both practicality and functionality in mind, visitors could not leave the fun placed on the selfie wall that everyone who wants to capture memories will surely love, giving the booth a fun new way to interact with its users.
Designers transformed the old booth while retaining the aesthetic soul and recognizable features of the old version, the defining features of the new design being the soft lines, rounded edges, minimalistic smooth surfaces and functional thoughtful details. The addition of a dash of color contrast between the outer red lining and the inner black weaved lines contributes to injecting strength and power to the contemporary statement it seeks to make.
The integration of enhanced functional digital features in the contemporary look and feel of China Telecom’s new phone boxes is an attempt to make telephone booths an important part of the urban landscape again, and part of the collective urban consciousness, a place to connect and interact, a place to recharge, relax. and coffee, shelter from the rain or scorching heat, and most importantly, a place to create a link that connects the phone booth to the city’s past, present, and future history.
Photos: Rex Zou