Strangest Train Stations

The World's 18 Strangest Train Stations

When riding a train or subway involves waiting in a dingy, dark, bland station, fleeing to the comfort of our cars—even in the face of endless traffic— becomes tempting. Some architects hear your pain and have designed stations that are comfortable, efficient and interesting. Here are the most innovative transit-station designs in the world.BY KATHRYN KENNEDY

Drassanes Station—Barcelona, Spain

Background: Originally opened in 1968, the Drassanes Station, part of the Barcelona Metro, serves the green line in the Ciutat Vella district in Barcelona. The small station was remodeled in 2009 by architects Eduardo Guitierrez and Jordi Fernandez.

Why It's Unique: Because the original station was so small, the architects had to efficiently redesign the station within certain limitations. Guitierrez and Fernandez believed that a subway car already possesses all of the traits that passengers need. And since the train cars and platforms are at the same height, the architects sought a continuous design, covering the old surfaces of the station completely with the materials that are found in subway cars. Martin Nielsen, transit-station design expert and principal architect for the firm Busby Perkins and Will, emphasizes that the material choice is an important aspect of transit-station design. "We like to use nice materials," he says. "We always want to use materials that are durable, that will hold up over time. We want to use materials that are resistant to vandalism at the same time." Drassanes Station incorporates these principles in an incredibly innovative and fun manner.

Shibuya Station—Tokyo, Japan

Background: Designed by architect Tadao Ando, the Shibuya station is one of the busiest commuter-rail stations in Japan—it serves over 2 million passengers each day. The station is a gateway from the center of Tokyo to its suburbs.

Why It's Unique: Nielsen says that when architects are designing a station, they want a commuter's experience to be pleasant. "We're trying to encourage people to use the system," he says. "We're trying to encourage people to get out of their cars and take transit." Ando designed his station as an underground spaceship. Passengers are carried down into the underground flying saucer through a three-level atrium in the station. And this spaceship is also environmentally conscious, allowing fresh air and light to travel through the atrium and ventilation shaft, as well as holding a water cooling system in the fiberglass walls, cutting down the station's power usage.


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