A human-centred approach to improving public transit.

Award-winning designer Masamichi Udagawa always puts people at the centre of his projects. “I think the essence of design is to affect people’s behaviour and make them see things a bit differently,” says Tokyo-born, New York-based Udagawa, who co-founded his studio, Antenna, in 1997. One of Antenna’s most ambitious projects has been to design three fleets of subway cars and ticketing machines for New York. “The most challenging aspect is that we have to make one solution that works for everyone in the New York community, including riders with disabilities, commuters and tourists,” says Udagawa.

Good design can enhance the travel experience. “An easy-to-use ticket machine reduces frustration and gets people on a train faster; our interior colour scheme makes a confined space feel larger and the easy-to-read passenger information system keeps people calm and confident.”

Upkeep is also important so Udagawa uses materials that are hard to vandalise and easy to clean. Antenna’s latest subway train, the R211, is due to start testing in 2020. With its wide doors, open-ended cars to improve circulation and bright door lights to highlight exits, the new train should prove popular. “I believe that the system works better when people are engaged,” says Udagawa.