More from an architectural design studio designing buildings for bikes.

It seems every week some funky new bike designs hit the web courtesy of university courses in industrial design. Here is the latest. 50 to 80 years ago, chairs and cars were industrial design students’ main subjects. Now it is bike bells and lights, and tricky bike storage solutions.

But 50 to 80 years ago, young architects too, were having their educations framed around the challenges posed by the car. From the urban districts they were asked to design, predicated on car use, to the houses they designed so that cars could slip under, architects learned to be functionalists in no small measure thanks to the car. So where are the design projects in schools of architecture to match those in industrial design schools, looking at bikes? That was the question that personally inspired me to run such a course.

With this post I’m featuring an office building designed by one of my students, Sam McQueeney. The hypothetical anchor tenant, Gazelle Bikes Australia, would occupy the podium levels with their office space and a showroom. What is unique here, is the speculative office tower has a second elevated lobby that invites cyclists to ride up three levels, and use the podium roof as a secure and well patrolled place to park bikes. Not only does cycling beat congestion during the office worker’s commute, but it lets them queue jump and have fun at the beginning and end of their work day.

I look forward to sharing more student works in coming weeks, and hope they might inspire architects everywhere to think about building for bikes the way functionalists of 80 years ago thought about designing buildings for cars.


  1. Perhaps the student took the assignment too literally: It looks like a result of bike fetishism. (To say further “… with the best intentions.” would be patronizing). Do Gazelle employees want or need to think about bikes more than about 8 hours a day, and even on their commutes? I can see how the fun aspect might be useful for first time or occasional visitors, but likely not so for workers — and who will want to ride a bike cargo bike or down the ramp (the pictogram is of a man on a road bike!).

    Bikes at ground level would be seen by all – but perhaps the best reason for this is not to promote the brand, or cycling in general, but a realistic (if aggressive) example for bicycle parking minimums – at least in new buildings… and remember also that some Gazelle employees (or least visitors) arrive by car:

    • Steven says:

      hey thank you for that comment. There is a book called “Carchitecture” that pretty clearly shows how architects fetishising the car, helped in promoting that mode. Architects have fetishised glass, mosaics, history, the environment, classical texts, fractal maths, cars, ocean liners, aeroplanes… machines of locomotion are a particular favourite, perhaps because buildings themselves are unable to move, which gives this artform a longing to engage movement.
      Anyway, your thoughts about ground level parking are good too. We’ve taken the view with this studio that what people need is variety: the old fashioned standard solutions, plus a wide range of new ones. It takes all kinds to make cycling utopia. Oh and Gazelle’s drivers would be released of that burden if our broader urban design visions were given a chance.

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