Hong Kong-based Italian designer Andrea Ponti has just presented Island, a double-decker driverless tram that’s dedicated to his home city with an emphasis on social distancing. It incorporates industrial, transportation, and public design, trying to provide mobility and sustainability in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

This innovative project is like a display of Ponti’s 14 years’ worth of experience in product and industrial design which he built working with global companies including Panasonic, Philips, and Samsonite.

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Island is a double-decker driverless tram designed for the city of Hong Kong

Image credits: andrea ponti

“The idea of designing a tram is no coincidence,” Ponti wrote on his website. “Trams are one of the city’s landmarks and the tramways celebrate their 115th anniversary this year. The concept of social distancing, which limits people’s freedom to move and interact became the design challenge and focal point for the new concept.”

Image credits: andrea ponti

“In Hong Kong, we did not experience a full lockdown like in Italy, Europe, or the United States,” the designer told Bored Panda. “Like everywhere else, everyday life changed in terms of personal and social behaviours. I believe that design is the mirror of our culture and behaviours, and as an industrial designer, it’s crucial for me to observe social changes and understand their impact on the products we create.”

Ponti said he wanted to redesign the Hong Kong tram since last year, but until now his team couldn’t find the time and resources. “The pandemic gave us a good reason to start the project. When everyone started designing masks and face-shields, we decided to focus on the post-COVID period on a wider public scale. The design took shape in a couple of months and everything was created around the idea of a new layout of the interiors.”

Image credits: andrea ponti

The exterior design is inspired by the urban landscape of Hong Kong, which features vast surfaces of glass and rounded-corner buildings

Image credits: andrea ponti

Image credits: andrea ponti

Image credits: andrea ponti

The name Island references the innovative design of the interiors, where large circular benches facilitate social distancing and passengers sit facing outwards in a radial pattern

Image credits: andrea ponti

Image credits: andrea ponti

“Natural light floods the interiors during the day through the curved windows and a domed top, which also provide awe-inspiring views at night,” Ponti added. “The driverless technology optimizes the interior space of the tram, making it easier to manage travel times and increase onboard safety.”

Image credits: andrea ponti

The tram has a retractable connector for rapid charging at tram stops while the large vertical LEDs enhance visibility in all weather conditions

Image credits: andrea ponti

Image credits: andrea ponti

Image credits: andrea ponti

The project includes exterior, interior, and tram stop design

Image credits: andrea ponti

The interior design contrasts with the exterior. “Minimalist design, charcoal black walls, soft circular seating, wooden floors and trims with a natural finish all create a neutral and friendly environment. This chromatic diversity, in addition to the dark color palette, frames and accentuates the beauty of the Hong Kong urban landscape. The simple tram stop structure has sleek, essential lines. Being open on both sides, it facilitates a linear, orderly flow of people and a healthier environment.”

Image credits: andrea ponti

“With the Coronavirus pandemic, people are shunning public transport and relying much more on private transport”

Image credits: andrea ponti

“We wanted to reimagine public transport in the post-COVID era from a prevention perspective”

Image credits: andrea ponti

“Especially in the densely populated city of Hong Kong, where social distancing is hard to achieve”

Image credits: andrea ponti

Here’s what people said about the concept