Architectural Team Transforms Old School Bus Into Amphitheater and Art Gallery

Doaba School Bus Conversion 8 photos
Photo: Purnesh Dev Nikhanj
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In the world of conversions, one vehicle seems to have the most allure: the school bus. But, when handed an old school bus, most people design mobile homes. Not in India; they do things differently.
Folks, as the title may have led you to understand, what you're looking at is a school bus converted into an amphitheater. Yes, the same that you'd sit in or on to enjoy an artistic performance. How did this happen?

Well, this story begins in Punjab, India, where Doaba public school resides, a facility that acts as a source of education for over 2,500 students from near 100 neighboring villages, the furthest being 50 km (31 mi) away. So the school bus is a primary means of transportation for the area.

In 1995, one of the school's founders, Sardar Balwant Singh, passed on, and to commemorate his life, the community decided to transform an old school bus into what you see today.

But why a school bus to commemorate one of the founders? Well, Mr. Singh cared so much for this school and its ability to spread knowledge to its community that he purchased the first school bus for the facility out of his own pocket.

Doaba School Bus Conversion Interior
Photo: Purnesh Dev Nikhanj
With this in mind, the expertise of Studio Ardete, an architectural and interior design studio founded in 2010, was called upon. After all, if you want something done right, you might as well go to the pros. The result? Much more than just a repurposed school bus.

First of all, the bus fulfills much more function than just being a sort of interactive landmark. Inside, the bus is designed to be a museum for students and teachers alike. One image in the gallery shows that this so-called museum is set up to display much of the school's history and achievements.

While this seems to be the current theme, this kind of space is suitable for more than just a short history lesson; quite an array of exhibitions can be carried out. Why not an art gallery? Heck, there's even seating in case you need to rest. I wonder if it's air-conditioned?

Outside, on the other hand, this is where the bus and Studio Ardete really show off what they can do. A critical feature of this conversion is that it no longer sits on the ground; it's suspended on a support system built right into the frame.

Doaba School Bus Conversion Rooftop
Photo: Purnesh Dev Nikhanj
This raised design helps create a platform that gives way to the rest of the amphitheater, created by subsequent steps and seating arrangements that lead all the way up to the top of the bus. Even though the design is completed from lateral and vertical beams, their arrangement funnels sound efficient.

Since I mentioned the roof, this area has been converted into a rooftop patio that extends the entire length and width of the bus. Personally, I think it's one hell of an idea that really brings a little something-something to the whole ordeal.

Sure, the amphitheater is set up on school grounds, but imagine parent/teacher nights with some live entertainment and a little open bar included in the mix. Talk about a proper setting for communicating your child's needs with their mentors.

While this last feature is probably far-fetched in some circles, this bus' ability to be more than what most people imagine still strikes me as intriguing, to say the least. I told you they do things differently out in India.
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About the author: Cristian Curmei
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A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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