City of Design day five – Canberra Bus Shelter

Monday, 31 October 2023


Although a much-loved and highly recognisable structure in Canberra’s urban landscape, the story behind these iconic concrete bus shelters is relatively unknown. Commissioned by the National Capital Development Commission and designed by architect Clem Cummings especially for Canberra, the bus shelters were first installed in 1975 to divided opinion. Decried by many in the city as ugly – the Canberra Times even labelled them “concrete monstrosities” and “orange spotted fungi”- the shelters have become a kooky local icon, thanks in part to local artist, Trevor Dickinson’s, popular series of bus shelter prints and merchandise.

The original plans for the shelter were found this year, encouraging an audit of the shelters conducted by Transport Canberra and City Services, which found that 455 shelters still remain out of the original 475 installed. Although no longer in production, the shelters will remain on Canberra’s streets for as long as they survive.

Intriguingly, although designed especially for the city, the shelters have been sighted in other parts of Australia, such as Maitland, Bredbo, and even Surfers Paradise; where two shelters have been converted into a public toilet.

Sources: The Canberra Times, ABC News.

Image: Trevor Dickinson

City of Design day five - Canberra Bus Shelter