The city of Paris is looking to replace its ageing fleet of phone booths, and asked Orange (France Telecom) and JCDecaux to work on potential new models. The two companies presented a prototype to the design bureau at the City of Paris, and have been allowed to install 12 test models around the city for a 6 month period (the one caught on photo here is on the Rue de Rivoli next to the St Paul Metro station).
The City of Paris website has described the design as being 'very futuristic', but I think 'very dull' would be more suitable. JCDecaux, the company behind the Velib system as well as many public toilets and most bus stops, is slowly defining the new norms of street furniture (a kind of grey/brown!), and clearly the company has only one goal - maximise advertising space. This design eliminates all trace of the traditional private box model, and is in fact little more than an advertising panel with a phone on the back.
The new prototype alongside a more traditional Wallace fountain.
What about the phone unit itself? Well, this is more revolutionary, with a 17 inch screen and full internet connectivity, meaning users can now not only make phone calls, but also profit from 10 minutes of free internet access. A GPS system has also been installed in the unit to give information on local services, such as transport, cinemas and restaurants.
Two things strike me here. I hope that 17 inch screen is made from some very heavily reinforced glass because it looks eminently breakable. However, even if it is indeed unbreakable, I'm sure it will be regularly scratched and tagged. Secondly, in such a public space, will anybody dare to use it to check their e-mails?
In an age of smart phones and ubiquitous wi-fi connections, I'm not sure that it is something that city dwellers need today, but JCDecaux will not mind about that.Fascinating Phone Facts (courtesy of Paris.fr)
- 5299: the number of phone booths in Paris, which is equivilent to one phone for every 400 inhabitants.
- 1 million: around 1 million people use public phones in Paris (7 million people throughout France).
- 50 minutes: the average usage of a phone booth each day in Paris.
- 60%: the percentage of payphone users who also own a mobile/cell phone.
What do you think? Do you like this design and would you use it? When did you last use a public phone?