In contrast, this year Shanghai rolled out a new type of phone booth. International architecture studio 100architects, in partnership with China Telecom, was asked to reimagine these urban relics as relevant modern-day conveniences. The result is their Shanghai Smart Booth, "a unique type of urban artifact powered by solar panels on its roof, with a sophisticated design that demonstrates the infinite potential of creative thinking about the urbanscape and public realm."
"Equipped with a variety of new features, these technologically upgraded versions of old iconic Shanghai phone booths cater to the needs of the progressive tech-savvy population of Shanghai as much as to the safety needs of the elderly who may still remember using phone booths for their primary function."
"In addition to a free three-minute phone call, these new, yet traditionally red, digitalized phone kiosks offer around-the-clock Wi-Fi hotspots, 5G transceivers, wireless charging for mobile devices, as well as USB connectivity, touch screens with city maps and easy one-click taxi-hailing services. A panic button along with such artificial intelligence features as face recognition is meant to assist the elderly and tackle an alarming problem of elderly people going missing in China."
"Designing with practicality and functionality in mind, we couldn't leave the fun out and slotted in a selfie wall that will be surely favored by selfie kings and queens, providing this booth with a new fun way to interact with its users.
"To revamp the old booth while yet keeping the aesthetic soul and recognizable features of the old version (rouge red color, sloped hat on top, boxy shape), the defining features of our new design became soft lines, rounded edges, minimalist smooth surfaces, and functional thoughtful details. The addition of a pinch of color-contrast between the outer red layer and the inner black meandering stripe contributed to inject strength and power to the contemporary statement wanted to be made."
"[The design aims] to make the phone booth an essential part of the cityscape again, and a part of the collective urban consciousness, a place to connect and interact, a place to recharge, slow down and have a cup of coffee, to take a shelter from rain or sizzling heat, and most importantly, a place to create a link that connects phone booths with the past, present and future of this city's history."
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At press time it wasn't clear if the Shanghai Smart Booth prototype seen here will go into production.
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