Russ the Bus is a mobile library and book exchange designed by LAVA for a children’s reading festival in Sydney. A ‘retired’ bus was brought back to life for kids as an immersive space of plywood ribs. With 125 shelves housing hundreds of books for kids to enjoy the bus reached around 4,000 kids visiting 28 schools. The reimagined interior was a fun environment to ignite imaginations and bring books alive for children of all ages. The design had many challenges. It had to be a robust yet colourful space for kids, one that involved discovery. It had to accommodate 20 excited kids and keep them engaged. And it had to be practical, hardwearing and economical. All the fittings and connections had to be flexible whilst the books secured when the bus was in motion. Plus it was on a tight time frame of just four months from design to opening.
LAVA used a fluid geometry to merge four spaces – Driver’s zone, Multimedia, Library and Lounge areas. A computer model was sliced and ‘nested’ into buildable components. 580 pieces of CNC-cut plywood were put together like a giant puzzle. The timber ribs created shelves, seats, benches, storage, counters and displays. Edged with coloured strips, the curvy plywood flows seamlessly so that walls,ceiling and floor, space, structure and ornament, become one element. Russ the Bus visited Greater Western Sydney as part of the 2015 Children’s Festival of Moving Stories, which featured free events for children and schools. The bus will make appearances throughout 2016, including at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in Walsh Bay in May.