In a world where innovation, technology, and climate control are being used to move society forward, high-speed train travel is often a consideration. Recently, both California and Florida have halted plans to implement high-speed rail. Kazuyo Sejima, though, dreams of a future where this type of transportation is both utilitarian and, well, elegant. Enter Laview, the flagship luxury bullet train in Japan that began operation for Seibu Railway in March.
A Pritzker Prize-winning architect with the SANAA firm, Sejima has turned the bullet train into an art piece. Created as a new flagship train for Seibu Railway, Sejma’s bullet train is called the Seibu 001 series, or Laview, a name that indicates its luxury (the “L” stands for “luxurious living”) and speed (the “A” is for “speedy like an arrow”).
The train features the largest curved glass window on a Japanese train, and each passenger car is designed to provide the most beautiful view possible. In fact, the window extends so far above and below a passenger’s line of sight, it creates the sensation of movement without any intrusive mechanical parts.
Indeed, the train is a paradigm of 21st-century architecture, both in engineering and design. However, it produces an effect far removed from modern technology, focusing on the view unfolding beneath passengers’ eyes.
Every detail is designed with the same goal in mind: the aluminum coating of the train is custom-designed to softly reflect the landscape, the interior seats reference the organic forms of Danish designer Arne Jacobson. As for the vaulted ceiling, it dissolves into a gentle glow.
Reflecting on Seibu Railway’s website, Sejima said of her intention for the interiors, “‘I wanted to make a train which feels like a living room where passengers can freely relax and feel motivated to ride the train every day.”
Sejma’s design lends itself to a paradoxically modern experience. Looking forward into the next century of train travel, the Laview series offers an optimistic imagination of public transportation.
The train certainly presents a comfortable and enjoyable ride, simultaneously focusing on the beauty within the design as well as in the landscapes it travels through.
In this, the Seibu 001 series in a reminder to all of us, a call to unite the human-made and natural world as we progress into a future that will no doubt rest on technological advances.