Trains are a common sight in Japan and folks have grown accustomed to them, but what if your eyes need not be assaulted by a chain of fast-moving, bright colored boxes? Well, at least, that’s what architect Kazuyo Sejima has envisioned. Sejima, who is essentially one-half of Pritzker-winning studio SANAA, was picked by Japan’s Seibu Railway to work with train operator’s design team to conceptualize the next-gen express trains that will ply between countryside and the city center. Going by the mantra of “friendly” and “soft,” Sejima proposed the train to rapidly blend in with the environment it travels through.
Amazingly, the design team’s proposal does not leverage on technology; instead, it relies on the shape and design of the train, as well as the finish of the train to create the illusion of the train “melting into the environment.” The entire concept express train will be covered with semi-reflective finish that subtly mirrors the surrounding it is passing through. The soft reflection of the environment such as the mountains and buildings blend the trains with where it is at and thus, effectively turning it ‘invisible’. The effect is soothing and less of an eyesore, as opposed to today’s offering which is often loud and pretty much in-your-face.
Sejima is expected to design both the exterior and the interior for the Seibu’s “Red Arrow” series trains, which is expected to complete sometime in 2018. According to Nikkei, Seibu Railway is committing 10 billion yen (about US$88 million) to bring the next-gen express trains to life.