HKUST ISD Students Design Concepts for Future Trams
Students of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s (HKUST) Division of Integrative Systems and Design (ISD) have collaborated with Hong Kong Tramways to come up with innovative eco-friendly design concepts that could be incorporated into future generations of tramcars.
The project, entitled “Trams in the Hong Kong transport system: designing the 8th-generation tram for low-carbon transport futures,” was an ISD and Tramways joint effort to hone students’ critical thinking in approaching complex problems in society, particularly those related to the global challenges of climate change. In the last semester, students conducted research and designed with objectives of enhancing passenger flow or the air-ventilation of the tram, aiming to realize low-carbon transport futures.
Head of ISD, Prof. TSUI Chi-Ying, thanked Tramways for giving the 27 second-year students a unique opportunity to work on the project last semester. “Trams are an iconic and ingenious mode of low-carbon transport in Hong Kong. I am grateful that Tramways has provided our students with a platform to nurture their creativity and utilize their innovative ideas. Our students are young and creative, yet how they will develop their ideas in useful and elegant ways is what we want to see,” said Prof. Tsui.
Managing Director of Hong Kong Tramways, Mr. Cyril AUBIN, said, “I am delighted with the ISD students’ performance and concern about the environment and pursuit for low-carbon living. Their aspirations are in sync with Tramways’ vision. Furthermore, their concern about the customer and the comfort of people using the tram has impressed me. Designing trams is not just about the transport, but also about connecting with people, our city and history – the students are able to capture all that.”
One of the designs is “Flow,” in which air is dragged through two sets of meticulously-designed vertical ribs placed at the front and rear of the air tunnel on the upper deck. In addition, air is brought to the lower deck through an open staircase design.
“We have also applied semantic design language to promote passenger experience with a wavy ceiling. We want passengers to both feel cooler and realize how the improved air flow works,” said Katie CHONG, who worked on the project with Joshua WONG and Cici CHEN.
Another team developed “Seabreeze”, a modular design that makes use of the Coanda effect as realized in a seashell. It enhances the natural evaporative cooling effect by increasing each module’s surface area. Aesthetically, its wavy outlook echoes the wind blowing from the ocean.
Team member Jasmine LI said, “We have tried to upgrade air ventilation so as to encourage more people to use this fascinating low-emission means of transport.” Her teammates are Colman CHEUK and Connie CHOW.
ISD Lecturer Dr. Luisa MOK Sze-Man said, “This course develops students’ systems thinking integrated with a design approach to solve problems in real life. Coming from the design discipline, I like teaching engineering students because of their background and interest in technology, which highly enhance design solutions for, in particular, climate change challenges.”
The project was part of ISD’s course works for students to explore design interventions for systems change. It covered an iterative design development process of deliberations, verifications of concepts, testing of prototypes, and repeated improvements on designs. During the last semester, the students created a total of 10 models for tramcars.
Watch the course video here.
About HKUST Division of Integrative Systems and Design
The Division of Integrative Systems and Design provides students with multidisciplinary training in integrative systems and design. It has a student-centric curriculum, constructed according to students’ talents and interests, and a project-based learning approach whereby students study and work in teams. Students acquire knowledge of design and systems thinking, expertise in specific technologies, and an entrepreneurial spirit through “learning by doing.” The emergence of disruptive innovations requires cutting-edge science and engineering advancement and creates a huge demand for innovators who can integrate know-how that spans disciplines with a human-centred mindset.
About Hong Kong Tramways
Hong Kong Tramways Limited (Tramways) has been serving Hong Kong since 1904 and operates nowadays a fleet of 165 tramcars including two antique party tramcars, a unique “TramOramic Tour” sightseeing tramcar and an unprecedented Circus Tram which focuses on promoting Hong Kong’s art and culture experiences. Tramways is the world’s unique fleet of double-deck tramcars in operation, carrying up to 200,000 passengers every day. It has been keeping up efforts in developing a world-wide recognized icon, while offering the greenest, the most affordable and the most joyful transport mode in Hong Kong.
Tramways is owned by RATP Dev Asia.