Japanese train-travel company Seibu Railway hopes to make a major design leap in time for their 100th anniversary; a new line of fast commuter trains that “blend into the landscape.”
Seibu’s new trains won’t really be “invisible” so much as “reflective,” but a simulated disappearing act is the goal of the project.
Kazuyo Sejima, one of Japan’s premier architects who had apparently never penned a train before, has been commissioned to execute the design.
Sejima’s accolades include the coveted “Pritzker Prize,” given to “architects whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture,” according to the outfit that bestows it.
Sejima’s website suggests she favors minimalism in design, which is certainly true of the new Seibu train concept.
“The limited express travels in a variety of different sceneries, from the mountains of Chichibu to the middle of Tokyo, and I thought it would be good if the train could gently co-exist with this variety of scenery,” Fast Company Design quotes Sejima from Seibu’s official press release. I couldn’t get as clean of a thought through Google Translate, so we’ll run with their version. “I also would like it to be a limited express where large numbers of people can all relax in comfort, in their own way, like a living room, so that they think to themselves ‘I look forward to riding that train again,’” she added.
The exterior’s active camouflage is only vaguely described as coated with “a semi-reflective surface” by Deezen and other outlets. Seems like a shiny vinyl wrap would be the simplest way to pull this off, but we will have to wait until the project progresses to see what Seibu really has in mind.
The company is said to operate over 111 miles of train tracks around Japan.
The speed, power and environmental impact of the “invisible” train has not yet been discussed, but it appears that the program is projected to start with seven eight-car trains in Japan’s 2018 fiscal year.
The vehicles themselves will be built by Hitachi, Ltd which contributed to the development of Japan’s 200 MPH Shinkansen trains.
Sure hope nobody decides to spray paint one of these beautiful bullets. And that they figure out how to make it matte enough to avoid turning the train into a blinding death beacon when the sun hits it.