John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Here’s a DIY guide to livening up your bus stop with the world’s most-beloved puzzle.
Waiting for the bus is boring. Entertainment options span from zoning out on your phone to guessing which piece of gutter trash will blow by next.
Fortunately, one man from Turin, Italy, has come up with a way to make the time fly: a DIY Rubik’s cube that you can try to solve until your transport finally rolls down the block.
“Lots of people use the bus in Turin,” says Giorgio Gaudio, a 23-year-old social designer. That’s despite bus shelters being “the boring place in town,” he says, where “service is not very efficient and people are afraid to talk.”
To stir up some interaction, Gaudio turned to the world’s top-selling toy. “I’m not very good at solving the cube,” he explains. “I take about 15 minutes to solve it halfway. But I always have fun playing.” So he took a cube and pried out a square in the middle to anchor a chain. He attached a hose clamp to the other chain end, then wrapped it around a seat pole at a bus stop where anybody could take it for a spin.
On its inaugural day, the puzzle attracted an inquisitive audience of locals. “The interaction was unexpected,” says Gaudio, who filmed it. “So many people stopped, triggering a dialog with the people near them or photographing the cube to send it to friends.”
Unfortunately, some miscreant ripped the cube from its moorings about 12 hours after its debut. (May he or she never solve it.) But Gaudio plans to continue deploying public design projects that “aim to create solutions for the well-being of the city,” and meanwhile has published a pictorial guide for anyone who wants to install a bus-stop Rubik’s cube of their own.