Every year, 373 million travellers spend their time in NS trains. In NS’s (the Dutch National Railway Company) future vision for 2025, the train will be more than a means of transport. Travel time will become more attractive and will be part of travellers’ ‘own time’. Mecanoo architects and furniture maker Gispen were asked by NS to collaboratively shape this vision. The result is a flexible and modular train interior that enables a wide variety of configurations and facilitates train passengers’ diverse activities.
Project Design: 2017 – 2018
Client: NS (Dutch Railways)
Design team: Mecanoo and Gispen
Programme: Flexible and modular train interior that enables a wide variety of configurations and facilitates train passengers’ diverse activities. With the flexible twelve-module furniture system, a suitable combination can be made for every type of train for an optimal travel environment.
Every traveller and every journey is unique. Mecanoo and Gispen, in cooperation with NS, have mapped train passengers’ activities. Based on this research six activity zones were defined, ranging from open and social to private and concentrated. These activity zones are differentiated by varying arrangements of twelve furniture modules. The modules include both current and new train interior elements and configurations. A dynamic travel landscape is created with various seating, ‘stit’ (sit-stand or leaning) and standing places where every traveller can find a place that suits them depending on their activity, travel time, group size, luggage and required facilities.
The new train interior facilitates a wide range of activities. It is comfortable, accessible and welcoming to everyone. These qualities coincide perfectly with Gispen’s experience in furniture making and with Mecanoo’s experience in the architectural and interior design of museums, libraries, schools and offices. The result is an innovative train concept that makes travelling a whole new experience.
With the flexible twelve-module furniture system, a suitable combination can be made for every type of train for an optimal travel environment. The elements have a completely circular production model. The fabrics are reusable and the modules can be easily disassembled and are interchangeable. The NS thus flexibly accommodates travellers’ needs and is prepared for the sustainable mobility of the future.
“What innovation means for NS is that we ask partners who are leaders in their fields to take a fresh look at our customers’ everyday train journeys and at what the best layout for the train is. How can we create more room at peak times and how can we enhance the comfort and the overall experience during the rest of the day? I find the results of our cooperation highly inspirational. The train of the future will let you get more out of your day, for example because you are able to work undisturbed. It will turn journey time into working time. Or time for reading, chatting or chilling out. The train makes it all possible – it’s the passengers who decide.”
“Train stations are not only calling cards for the Netherlands that huge flows of people go past every day, but they are also public spaces that have to be laid out with great care. The train journey deserves that same level of care and attention – you should design it as a public space where you would be happy to stay, as an activity-related space that interacts with the sensory perceptions.”
Francine Houben, Creative Director at Mecanoo
“Developing circular-economy products lets us extend lifespans and avoid waste. In trains in particular, it’s extremely important to allow materials to live again by being reused.”
Rick Veenendaal, Circular Economy Manager at Gispen
From 20 October onwards, the Virtual Experience Lab containing the vision of the train interior will be at Ketelhuisplein in Eindhoven, the heart of the DDW festival. It is a full-scale design where you can use an entirely new virtual approach to experience the vision of the new train interior. You can buy an attractively-priced return journey plus entry ticket for €28 from the NS rail discount shop, Spoordeelwinkel. So take the train and one of the extra public transport bicycles provided especially for DDW from Eindhoven station. More info at: https://www.ddw.nl/