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Nowe stacje Shinkansenu jako symbol nowej ery Wyróżniony

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Budowa dworca w Kioto w 1997 r. stała się punktem zwrotnym w projektowaniu stacji kolejowych w Japonii. Od tego momentu zaczęły one także wzbudzać więcej zainteresowania społecznego, więcej wysiłków kierowano także w ich projektowanie. W końcu lat 90., w związku z nowym trendem określanym jako „renesans dworców kolejowych”, firmy kolejowe rozpoczęły budowę nowoczesnych stacji kolejowych. Stacje te zostały wznoszone lub też rozbudowane i zmodernizowane w wielkich metropoliach, a także w miejscowościach regionalnych. Nowe dworce powstawały zarówno na liniach konwencjalnych jak i tych obsługujących pociągi wielkich prędkości – Shinkanseny. Interesująco zaprojektowane dworce kolejowe nie tylko przyczyniają się do promocji podróży koleją i przybliżają ludziom tą formę komunikacji, ale także stanowią wizytówkę miast i lokalnych miejscowości. W przeciągu ostatnich lat zbudowano w Japonii wiele interesujących obiektów dworcowych. Nowe podejście do projektowania dworców przyczyniło się także do zapewnienia estetycznego i bezpiecznego środowiska związanego z podróżowaniem koleją. Niniejszy artykuł przedstawia nowe stacje pociągów Shinkansen zbudowane po roku 2000.

Fig.40Kanazawab

Fig. 40 Kanazawa Station, Ishikawa Pref. (2005; 2015)

 

New Shinkansen stations reflecting new age

Construction of  Kyōto Station in 1997 was a turning point, since when railway stations in Japan have again gained public attention and more efforts were put into their design. Along with the “station renaissance”, railway companies started to develop new attractive stations. These stations have been built or redeveloped in the large cities and also in the region. Some of them have been built on the conventional lines, some on new Shinkansen lines. Meaningfully designed stations are not only promoting travel by rail and connect people with railways, but they also represent cities and towns. Several outstanding station projects have been realized in Japan in recent years. New approach to station design had also an effect in providing an aesthetic, safe and secure environment associated with the travel by rail. This article concentrates on the design of new Shinkansen stations built after 2000.

 

1. Station development

Station building plays important part in the perception of a travel by rail by potential passengers. Therefore railway and subways stations and various facilities connected to the stations need to be attractive and appropriate for our new age. Railroads and stations are important lines and points in the urbanspace and they are parts of the urban development [1]. Recent trends both in Europe and Japan are characterized by the departure from the uniform and strictly functional station buildings towards splendid modern stations [2]. A station, being a borderline between structure and architecture, and containing both, needs to have a good architectural form and a modern structure. The cutting-edge structures often enable to achieve the striking forms. Nowadays, commercial facilities and offices are also an important part of station buildings. Therefore railway companies in Japan, both of the ground lines and subways are competing to win the passengers by developing attractive stations with commercial and service facilities. Thanks to such efficient infrastructure and good services, it is not overstated to say, that nowadays travel by railways in Japan is very comfortable, safe and visiting stations is enjoyable as well.

Railway companies are working not only towards extension or modernization of railway lines but they also implement “station renaissance” programs focused on building better new stations, and improving, extending and redeveloping existing ones. The focus on the construction of  new stations means first of all the efforts to implement a good architecture. The turning point for station design was the construction of Kyōto Station in 1997, which was designed by the well-known architect Hiroshi Hara. The new project not only generated discussion about that particular building but also underlined the overall need for the aesthetic station design. In recent years many architects in Japan have participated in station design and produced beautiful stations. For example, JR East with more than 127,000 million passenger-kilometers of the traffic volume (2013), has been continuing the “station renaissance” program to maximize the appeal of railway stations, as the largest business resource at its disposal. The “New Frontier 21”, formulated in November 2000, as the JR East Group’s medium-term management plan, defined “thorough customer orientation” as an important objective. Since then, one the JR’s strategies the “station renaissance” has been a program which recognized the stations used by around 16 million customers per day as important management assets. The plan was later revised in 2008, as the “New Frontier 2008”, until current plan – the “JR East 2020 Vision – idomu”, which is embracing the new challenges, such as technological innovation and globalization [3]. The key words of the new policies include: “kiwameru” (excel) – pursuing extreme safety levels (e.g. by installing the automatic platform gates) “migaku” (improve) – service quality reforms – enhancing rail transportation network, and “tomo ni ikiru” (together) – strengthening collaboration with local communities, supporting earthquake recovery, stimulating tourism and revitalizing communities [4].

Three types of station building can be distinguished in recent station design in Japan. “Station-tower” – is characterized by a high-rise station building. “Station-city” – has a large block-type multifunctional station building. Third representative type characteristic for many stations in Japan, mainly local, is “station-gate” – a medium-size building with original design suiting local surrounding, and with the purpose to play various functions addressed to the local residents [5]. The new stations in Japan for high-speed trains are local transportation hubs which play an important role of the “gate” to their regions. New shinkansen lines and stations, with associated facilities such as station squares, are part of the JR policy aiming to attract people, businesses and to enliven local communities.

 

2. New high-speed train stations

In spite of stations on the existing lines, also  new stations have been built on new Shinkansen lines. Some stations have been designed by famous architects and are outstanding rail facilities, which have been well connected with their surroundings (e.g. Shin Minamata; 2004). Earlier lines with meaningful stations include those on the Tōhoku Shinkansen (e.g. Hachinohe; 2002), Yamagata Shinkansen (e.g. Shinjō; 1999) and Akita Shinkansen (e.g. Tawazako; 1997). The set of interesting stations has been completed on the Kyūshū Shinkansen, which was opened in 2011, and on the Hokuriku Shinkansen (2015). The examples of the new stations to come, which are still under construction, are the next stations on the Hokuriku Shinkansen and Hokkaido Shinkansen. “Migaku”, the goal of JR East, is in line with the new operations of the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa and the Hokkaido Shinkansen (Hokkaidō Shinkansen) to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto.

According to JR East strategy for the railway business, the Hokuriku Shinkansen has been extended from Nagano, through Jōetsu-Miyōkō and Toyama to Kanawaza and opened in 2015. The Hokkaido Shinkansen, which lies within the area of JR Hokkaido, is constructed from Shin-Aomori, through Oku-Tsugaru-Imabetsu, Kikonai, Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, Shin-Yakumo, Oshamambe, Kutchan, Shin-Otaru to Sapporo. Opening of the first section of the Hokkaido Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate is scheduled in 2016. It has to be seen whether the design of these new stations will be meaningful – not only functional but also aesthetic, like it has been achieved on the latest Shinkansen stations in Kyūshū and Hokuriku.

Some original new stations have been constructed in local towns. Bringing of Shinkansen to the local area has been very crucial for the economic growth, and station design has been often conceived to mark this important “gateway”.

 

2.1 Tōhoku Shinkansen stations (1982-2010)

The connection from Tokyo to Morioka was initially opened in 1982, and then a section from Morioka in Iwate Prefecture to Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture was expanded in 2002, and another section to Shin Aomori in 2010. The Tōhoku Shinkansen operated by JR East, which has a total length of 674,9 km, includes the following stations: Tokyo (1991), Ueno (1985), Ōmiya (1982), Oyama (1982), Utsunomiya (1982), Nasu-Shiobara (1982), Shin-Shirakawa (1982), Kōriyama (1982), Fukushima (1982), Shiroishi-Zaō (1982), Sendai (1982), Furukawa (1982), Kurikoma-Kōgen (1990), Ichinoseki (1982), Mizusawa-Esashi (1985), Kitakami (1982), Shin-Hanamaki (1985), Morioka (1982), Iwate-Numakunai (2002), Ninohe (2002), Hachinohe (2002), Shichinohe-Towada (2010) and Shin-Aomori (2010). The stations built in 1982 were rather conventional facilities constructed on the elevated track. More original design was applied for later stations, particularly at  Hachinohe.

 

Hachinohe Station (2002)

Hachinohe Station in Hachinohe-city in Aomori Prefecture is the Shinkansen station operated by JR East. There are also conventional trains operated by the Aoimori Railway Company. About 4,650 passengers use the station everyday (2013). The Tōhoku Shinkansen station was designed by architect Shinichi Okada (he also designed Shinanomachi Station located on the JR Chūō Line), JR East, JR East Design Corporation. It was developed under the “Sunflower Plan” of JR East “station renaissance” policy. The project was a typical case of a new station that was constructed for a Shinkansen line. Such projects were usually closely related to the neighborhood development projects undertaken by the national government and local municipalities. In other words, projects of the new stations in the “station renaissance” era have not been advanced solely by the railway operators but also they have required allocations from national, prefectural and municipal budgets. According to Tsuchihashi (2003), such stations have been characterized by two techniques: (1) construction of a free corridor (jiyū tsūro) connecting both sides of the station in order to prevent local areas being dissected by the tracks, and (2) provision of facilities, such as meeting halls, civic plazas, local products museum, etc., organized at the station to reflect character of the local community and to attract local residents [6].

In case of Hachinohe Station, a free corridor has been constructed over new Shinkansen line running parallel to the conventional Tōhoku Main Line, and a new station building serving both lines was constructed over the tracks. Also a new “Metz Hotel” was built next to the station, resulting that station-hotel facility serves as both – a station, and as a site of local everyday activity, while at the same time adding a new dimension to the urban landscape. Hachinohe Station has achieved a unique spatial composition in response to local conditions, weather and the need to have an over-track station. The characteristic features are – integrated platforms with the concourse, and interesting roof structure above the platforms (Fig. 1). As Tsuchihashi pointed out, platforms and concourses at this station make similar impression as the satellites and a lobby of an airport [6]. In particular, since the Shinkansen stations are regarded as the more important travel bases than conventional stations, the fitting applied should have a high potential, like at the air terminals – both in architectural and functional terms.

In case of  Hachinohe, the platforms and tracks are located on the 1st floor and are visible from the concourse which is on the 2nd floor. Both platforms and concourse are indoor spaces and they are easy to understand and to use. The platforms are covered by a large, 300 m long shelter, shaped like an elliptic cylinder, creating a unique, continuous space. The main purpose of the shelter is to provide a protection against snowy and cold weather in the winter. As a result of this consideration, the platforms have been designed as a single and aesthetic space. Hachinohe Station has been composed of three major axes: the track axis, the axis of the free corridor that traverses the tracks, and the axis that runs parallel to the tracks on the level above. Adoption of the truss structure and the glass allows for the better understanding of the station’s spatial layout without relying on the guidance. The ticket gates are also spacious – the highest dimension is approximately 14.0 m and the structure here includes two distinctive masts with original lightings. Passengers descend from the 2nd floor to the platforms, thereby experiencing the integrated continuity of the concourse and the platforms, which is a rare feature for the Shinkansen stations. The 8-story “Metz Hotel” also contains a library and other public facilities on the 1st and 2nd floors, shops on the 3rd floor and the hotel rooms from the 4th floor upward. The building is connected to the free corridors (jiyū tsūro) on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The hotel elevation, which is a part of the station complex, has blue and white colors which express local features such as the town’s festival culture and surrounding nature. The station is distinguished – serving as a “gate” for the region of the northern Tōhoku.

 

Shin-Aomori Station (2010)

The Tōhoku Shinkansen was extended in 2010 from Hachinohe to Shin-Aomori, marking its completion and improving access to Aomori and Hokkaido.It is currently Japan’s northernmost Shinkansen station and a gateway to Aomori Prefecture. Since March 2016, the Shinkansen will be extended into Hokkaido and there will be more Shinkansen stations in the north. It is operated by JR East and more than 8,000 passengers per day use this station (2013). New station in Aomori-city was designed by the Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency (JRRT), whose proposal has been selected among other entries.

The design concept was conceived to reflect on time-span “from the Jōmon to the future”. Therefore the station was designed as a fusion of the nostalgia and the future. Appearance of the building is reminiscent of the Jōmon Period, while the central part with a glass curtain wall represents the “future”. The view of the town can be enjoyed through the window. This symbolic building is also a symbolic “gate” to the town. The station is elevated and has a large connecting corridor, and also a wide and comfortable Shinkansen concourse. Except of the transportation function, the Aomori Station has also services (tourist information), shops (e.g. “Ekinaka”), and offices of the Aomori Prefectural Government.

 

2.2 Kyūshū Shinkansen (2011)

The Shinkansen on the Kyushu Island was completed in 2011. It connects Hakata Station in Fukuoka with Kagoshima Chūō Station in Kagoshima. It is also an extension of the Sanyō Shinkansen from Honshu. There is another, so called “Nagasaki Shinkansen” (West Kyushu Route) under construction. Kyūshū Shinkansen involves the following stations: Hakata (2011), Shin-Tosu (2011), Kurume (2010; 2011), Chikugo-Funagoya (2011), Shin-Ōmuta (2011), Shin-Tamana (2011), Kumamoto (2011), Shin-Yatsushiro (2011), Shin-Minamata (2011), Izumi (2011), Sendai, and Kagoshima Chūō (2004). All stations have coordinated design, and particularly distinguished are: Shin Tosu, Shin Tamana, Kumamoto, Shin-Minamata, and Kagoshima Chūō (renovated in 2014).

 

Shin Tosu Station (2011)

The station is located in Tosu-city in Saga Prefecture. It is operated by JR Kyūshū and serves about 900 persons per day (2011). All the Kyūshū Shinkansen stations have a similar functional scheme and layout. They are elevated; a station hall is on the ground floor and the platforms above. Each station has its own design concept, which has been often influenced by the local characteristics. The design concept of Shin Tosu Station uses the image of the city bird’s wing (magpie), with its colors (white, black, blue) for the main color scheme. Also an artwork by an artist Tomoya Tsukamoto is exploring that concept. This symbolic bird has been selected to provide a comprehensive design which will express locality and connect the station to the local communities. The motif is reflected in the dynamic elevation (Fig. 2). An associated artwork has been located near the rest-rooms. Almost all stations share the same concept that the restrooms are in the center of spacious station hall on the ground level (Fig. 3). The steel structure of the platform roof looks light and displays the contrast with the bolder looking columns (Fig. 3). The station was awarded in 2011 with the “Grand Prix” of the Association of Railway Architects (ARA).

 

Shin Tamana Station (2011)

The station operated by JR Kyūshū is located in Tamana-city in Kumamoto Prefecture and serves the Kyūshū Shinkansen. Around 1,200 people pass through this station everyday (2013). The design concept explores the warm characteristic of wood, which has been used for the interior finish. The wood with glass is also appearing on the elevation (Fig. 5), in the interiors and on the platforms. An artwork is located at the station hall on the central wall (Fig. 6). The roof above the elevated platforms is a combination of a steel and wood (Fig. 7). It makes the space more familiar. Station building, designed with the local materials, is functioning as a “gate” to the region and to the local community. The station was awarded in 2011 with the “Grand Prix” of the Association of Railway Architects (ARA).

Fig.1Hachinohea Fig.2ShinTosuStationa
Fig.3ShinTosuStationa Fig.4ShinTosu Stationa
Fig.5ShinTamanaStation Fig.6ShinTamanaStationa

 Fig. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Kumamoto Station (2011), Kumamoto Station East Exit Square (2010) and Kumamoto Station West Exit Square (2011)

Kumamoto Station

Kumamoto Station is a main railway station in Kumamoto-city and it is operated by JR Kyūshū. It serves the Kyūshū Shinkansen, Kagoshima Main Line and Hōhi Main Line. Approximately 13,500 passengers use this JR station every day (2013). The station was renovated in 2011 for the arrival of the Shinkansen. There is a tramway stop operated by the Kumamoto City Transportation Bureau located at the front of the “East Gate”. New station building, built for the elevated line, is located on the west (Fig. 8). Existing historical building “Shirakawa-guchi” (“Shirakawa Gate”) is located on the east (Fig. 9). The underground free-passage connects the western and eastern sides. On the “Shinkansen-guchi” (“Shinkansen Gate”), the station has a large hall (Fig. 10). The elevation has a glass curtain walls and brick. Also the interiors are finished with local wood, brick and glass. There is a shopping mall “Friesta” selling food and souvenirs. The station is very aesthetic but the platform has a loose design connection with the building (Fig. 11). The station building project was awarded in 2011 with the “Grand Prix” of the Association of Railway Architects (ARA).

There are specially designed two station squares – the “Kumamoto Station East Exit Square” (2010) and “Kumamoto Station West Exit Square” (2011), which are part of a large redevelopment program expanding station for Kyūshū Shinkansen.Both squares play, in spite of transportation function, also the roles of carefully landscaped urban plazas for relaxation and enjoyment.

 

Shirakawa Gate (East Exit) Square of Kumamoto Station

“Shirakawa Gate (East Exit) Square” is located at the front of an old station building on the eastern side. The first stage of the project – the “Kumamoto Station East Entrance Redevelopment Project” has been realized in 2010. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2018 and it will involve a total of six new roofs planned for the square. The roof shelter was designed by Structured Environment and an architect Ryue Nishizawa (Office of Ryue Nishizawa) is responsible for its architectural design. A large roof made of a steel frame and partly reinforced concrete, with a soft curvilinear shape, has been erected connecting the railway station with the tramway terminal (Fig. 12). The slab is a continuous surface without beams, supported by fourteen slender columns. The roof depth of 400 mm is also reduced thanks to the construction method – casting in place. This simple looking structure resolves the complex logistics generated by mass transit and also serves as a place for relaxation. Also its “cloud-like” shape helps to engage the station with the urban dialog – with other buildings in this rather chaotic environment.

 

Shinkansen Gate (West Exit) Square of Kumamoto Station

“Shinkansen Gate (West Exit) Square”, with its steel-frame structures, was designed by the Konishi Structural Engineers and an architect Mitsuhiko Sato (Mitsuhiko Sato Architect and Associates), and completed in 2011 (Fig. 13). The design has been selected through the competition held under the “Kumamoto Artpolis” [i]. The roof and the curvilinear walls divide the plaza for pedestrians from the territory for the traffic (taxis and bus). Both the walls and the canopies have a series of different sized openings in them to blur the distinction between inside and outside. A rotary is enclosed by a structural steel screen, which is an integral unit formed of a slab plate, painted in brown on the rotary side and in white on the pedestrian side. Landscaped plaza evoking a park-like space includes a resting area with a water garden.

Fig.7ShinTamanaStationa Fig.8KumamotoStationa
Fig.9KumamotoStatioa8 Fig.10Kumamotoa
Fig.11Kumamotoa Fig.12KumamotoStationEastExitSquarea

Fig. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Shin Minamata Station (2011)

The station is located in Minamata-city in Kumamoto Prefecture and it is operated by JR Kyūshū. It serves the Kyūshū Shinkansen and Hisatsu Orange Railway. The building was designed by an architect Makoto Sei Watanabe (he also designed a subway stations – the Iidabashi, Kashiwa-Campus and Kashiwa-Tanaka). The concept was based on the fact that stations do not have doors, but there is a flow of movement at the station. This concept of a “movement” has been explored in the design. The roof and walls consist of the rectangular pieces which look like being frozen in their movement (Fig. 14). The shape of the structure has been prepared to face weather conditions. The various pieces running parallel to each other, but with different angles, reflect differently light and also imitate the movement. The shimmering variations of the light remind about the sunlight on the waves of the Yatsushiro Sea. People can see different images while they approach the station. Station hall on the ground level is spacious and bright, with glass as finishing material (Fig. 15). Similar stylistic is applied at the elevated platforms. There are rectangular plates forming walls and roof, finished with glass escalators, walls and details (Fig. 16). The design of the building has been unified with the design of a plaza. In 2008 the station was awarded with the “Public Building Excellence Award” by the Public Buildings Association.

 

Kagoshima-Chūō Station (2014)

The station is located in the center of Kagoshima-city and it is operated by JR Kyūshū. Except the Kyūshū Shinkansen, the station serves also the Kagoshima Main Line and Ibusuki-Makurazaki Line. A tram located in front of the station is operated by the Kagoshima City Transportation Bureau. The JR station serves approximately 22,500 passengers per day (2013). The previous station had a building with the grand stairs at the “Sakurajima Exit” which was connected to a large “Amu Plaza Department Store”. During the renovation in 2012 (Fig. 17), the grand stairs have been dismantled and a new seven-stories building was completed in June 2014. Also station concourses have been renovated. The layout of the hall is similar to other Shinkansen stations but has better composition. Shops, not toilets occupy the central part of the hall (Fig. 18). Platform is rather functionally-oriented (Fig. 19). The station, like before, is connected to the “Amu Plaza”. There is a Ferris wheel on the top of the “Amu Plaza”, which is well visible from a distance. That Ferris wheel has become the characteristic spatial feature of the station and a landmark of Kagoshima-Chūō.

Fig.13Kumamoto Stationa Fig.14ShinMinamataa
Fig.15ShinMinamataa Fig.16ShinMinamataa
Fig.17Kagoshimachuoa Fig.18Kagoshimachuoa
Fig.19Kagoshimachuoa Fig.20Naganoa

 Fig. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

2.3 Hokuriku Shinkansen (2015)

The Nagano Shinkansen (between Takasaki and Nagano), which was built in 1997, was extended in 2015 to Kanazawa, as the Hokuriku Shinkansen, which is jointly operated by the East Japan Railway Company and the West Japan Railway Company. Except of Kanazawa Station (2005), which was built earlier as a very exceptional building, and the Nagano Station that was rebuilt, other stations (Iiyama, Jōetsumyōkō, Itoigawa, Kurobe-Unazukionsen, Toyama, and Shin-Takaoka) have become completely new facilities, which were opened in 2015. Ueda Station has traditional motifs on the elevation; Nagano Station has been also rebuilt using motifs of the temple architecture inspired by the famous Zenkō-ji. The design concept for each station has been selected from several alternative proposals. The aim was to conceive the meaningful stations which could introduce the region to the wider community. All stations are elevated, they have similar layout schemes. The design concepts explore local history, architecture, tradition and nature from which come the motifs, colors and details. The stations are in state-of-art in the sense of technology. They have many amenities for the passengers, including a barrier-free (elevators and escalators) and facilities (e.g., clean toilets).

 

Nagano Station Zenkōji-guchi Entrance (2015)

Nagano Station is one of the major stations in the Chūbu region, serving 20,884 daily (JR passengers; 2014). The station is also serving conventional lines, including Shimano, Shinetsu Main Line (Shin'etsu-honse), Shinonoi and Iiyama Lines. Nagano Station has been prepared for the arrival of the Hokuriku Shinkansen by the construction of a new entrance on the side leading to the Zenkōji Temple (Fig. 20). The design of the new portion of the station has been inspired by the architecture of the famous temple. In front of the glass curtain wall there are wooden pillars decorated with traditional lanterns. There is also a handsome landscaped plaza separating pedestrian movement from the buses and cars.

 

Iiyama Station (2015)

Iiyama is another station in Nagano Prefecture. It is serving 588 passengers per day (2014). The design concept was to introduce the delicate nature of the Shinshū province at the “peaceful station”. Shinshū provides the excellent opportunities for such activities as skiing at Hakuba and hiking in Kamikōchi, as well as beautiful mountain views, other natural scenery and spas (onsen). To the east, lie towns filled with historical buildings and sites, including such treasures as the Zenkōji Temple and Matsumoto Castle. The station building has a large glass elevation allowing for the close contact with the surrounding (Fig.21). The view can be also seen from the platforms and from the “Panorama Terrace” that is provided at the coffee shop. Interiors have design focusing on the local materials – such as wood, on colors and motifs typical for the region (Fig. 22). The station has the Tourist Exchange Center (Iiyama-eki kankō kōryū centā), Shinshū NatureTownshipActivity Center (Shinshū shizengō akutibiti sentā), Tourist Information Center (Iiyama-eki kankō annaijo) promoting tourism in Shinshū, and shops selling local products.

 

Jōetsumyōkō Station (2015)

This station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen is located in Niigata Prefecture. It serves the Hokuriku Shinkansen and Myōkō Haneuma Line (Echigo Tomeki Railway) – it also replaced Wakinoda Station on the Shinetsu Main Line. Jōetsumyōkō was designed by the JR East Design Corp. and Niigata Prefectural Government. The design concept was based on the key word of the “memorable station”. The building has elevation with emphasized high vertical windows with the wooden frames (Fig. 23). The designers realized the concept by adopting elegant local cedar wood (sugi) for elevation and various interior finishes at the station hall (walls, suspended ceilings, benches; Fig. 24), and at the platforms (benches, ceilings). The Jōetsu sugi wood makes a beautiful composition of various colors and textures (Fig. 25). Benches have been composed of wood with metal details. Thus station building reflects locality trough the materials – a local wood and color coordination. The images of sakura have been used at the interior walls and windows. At the entrance is located a dome that displays traditional wooden structure and the works of art (Fig. 26).

Structural design at the platforms is rather economically-oriented with wooden elements such ceilings, railings and benches expressing the design concept (Fig. 27). A beautiful view on the surrounding landscape can be observed through the large windows. Among the non-transportation function of the station there are shops selling local products and the Tourist Information Center.

Fig.21Iiyamaa Fig.22Iiymaa
Fig.23JoetsuMiyokoa Fig.24Joetsumiyokoa
Fig.25JoetsuMiyokoa Fig.26Joetsumiyokoa

 Fig. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

Itoigawa Station (2015)

The station, located also in Niigata Prefecture, in the center of Iiyama-city, is operated by JR West on the Hokuriku Shinkansen and the local Ōito Line, as well by Echigo Tomeki Railway on the Nihon Hisui Line. The station was designed by the JR West and Yasui Architects & Engineers. Design concept relied on the particular location of Iiyama – between the Japan Sea and  Northern Japan Alps. The stylistics of the “symbolic station” employs the motifs of the Japan Sea, Northern Alps, jade stone, and “Itoigawa Geopark”. On the façade on the south there is a composition made of tiles with the image of the mountains. On the southern elevation there are also other images inspired by the sea. A station building has the design elements influenced by the Japanese traditional architecture (north entrance), as the reflection of the historical wooden houses (Fig. 28). At the south entrance there is a large gate made of brick, which is a remainder of the former station (Fig. 29). There is an exhibition displaying a part of railway history in Japan – the train “Kiha52-156”, which was running until 2010 on the Ōito Line connecting Itoigawa with Minami Kotani.

 The Itoigawa-city received recognition from the Global Geoparks Network in August 2009, making it the first Global Geopark in Japan, which is located at the new shinkansen station. Geoparks were created for the purpose of locating regions with the superior geological, natural, and cultural heritage. The “Itoigawa Geopark” encompasses the entire area of the Itoigawa city. Located atop a massive fault line between two continental plates, Itoigawa has been blessed with a wealth of unusual minerals and geological features. Its culture has thus developed a close connection with the Earth. Itoigawa is also home to the Kotakigawa and Omigawa Jade Gorges, two natural jade deposits which fostered one of the oldest jade working cultures in the world. The motif of the jade stones has been also reflected in the design of railway station.

The interiors and platform have design based on the same design code for the Hokuriku Shinkansen stations. A wood, glass and local design motifs are applied at the interior – at the hall and concourses (Fig. 30, Fig. 31). The platform has economically-oriented design with elegant elements made of glass with texture resembling washi – Japanese traditional paper (Fig. 32). Like other stations, Itoigawa has also Tourist Information Center, shops with local products and other commercial facilities.

Fig.27Joetsumiyokoa Fig.28Itoigawastationa
Fig.29itoigawastationa Fig.30Itoigawaa
Fig.31Itoigawaa Fig.32Itoigawaa

 Fig. 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32

 Kurobe-Unazuki Onsen (2015)

The station in Toyama Prefecture is operated by JR West and connected with the nearby Shin-Kurobe Station on the Toyama Chihō Railway Main Line. The name of the station contains the part “Unazuki Onsen” – which is the hot-spring resort from which runs a popular Kurobe Gorge Railway. The design concept for the station located in the environment rich with the natural beauty was specified as the “invisible, charming station”. The station was designed to develop the region and to become a base attracting tourists. The Kurobe-city participated in the design of the station with the expressive station squares on both side of the railway. At the east side of the station there is an exhibition space of the local products at the Kurobe Tourist Center and a gallery (Kurobe-shi chiiki kankō gyararī), which displays the regional natural resources, including a beautiful view on the Tateyama mountain range. There are also commercial facilities and shops with local goods.

Both elevations, with a delicate motif of the wave, have some parts covered with the glass and other covered with the black natural stone (Fig. 33). The dominating colors are black-and-white. Similar colors have been adopted inside the building, with the addition of the bright color of the local wood (Fig. 35). The color scheme has been carried out up to the platforms (Fig. 34). There are also some colored elevators there, as well as wooden benches and the interior decoration. The most expressive is the plaza with design influenced by the traditional Zen garden and the Kurobe Gorge. A large composition made of stones, with parts covered with glass and with flat pools of water, makes a landscaped garden that is surrounding the traffic plaza for the buses and cars on the east side of the station.

 

Toyama Station (2015)

Toyama has been an existing station which was developed for the arrival of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The station is operated by  JR West and some local operators. Located nearby on the south is Dentetsu-Toyama Station – the terminal of the local Toyama Chihō Railway. On the north is located the terminal of the LRT. The design concept was specified as the “stage of the lights” – reflecting the beauty of Tateyama. A station building has a glass curtain wall and interior in similar stylistic to the other Hokuriku Shinkansen stations, including wooden furniture, details and glass elevators (Fig. 35). The structure of the platform roof has the originally shaped main supporting columns painted in white. There are also glass elevators and glass protecting walls on the platforms (Fig. 36).

Fig.33Kurobeunazukionsena Fig.34Kurobeunazukionsena
Fig.35Toyamastationa Fig.36Toyamastationa

 Fig. 33, 34, 35, 36

Shin-Takaoka (2015)

This is another Hokuriku Shinkansen station located in Toyama Prefecture. The station is operated by JR West and serving also the Jōhana Line. The design concept embraced “a fusion of tradition, technology, and nature with the modernity”. It was expressed through the materials – a stone, glass, wood, and through the colors – with the dominating white and brown. The building has an elevation in brown color combined with the black and white, with strong vertical accents (Fig. 37). The interiors have the balanced colors and design motifs which are influenced by the traditional architecture (Fig. 38). Tradition has been also reflected by a monument of the samurai helmet kabuto (Takaoka daikabuto) displayed at the hall, and by the landscaping based on the traditional Japanese garden. The monument is devoted to the 400-years long history of Takaoka, which has been well known as the largest production center of bronze ware in Japan, including helmets of the samurai warriors (Fig. 39).

 

Kanazawa Station (2015)

It has been a major station in Kanazawa-city in Ishikawa Prefecture, operated by JR West and other operators – the Hokuriku Railroad and the Ishikawa Railway. The terminal of the Hokuriku Railroad Asanogawa Line is located below the square in front of the JR station. Kanazawa Station serves 20,807 passengers per day (2014; excluding Hokutetsu Kanazawa). Since 2015 it has been also serving the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Kanazawa is a historical city with preserved traditional architecture at the geisha district, samurai areas and temple areas, and with the Kenrokuen Garden – one of  “three great gardens of Japan”.

The station was initially redeveloped in 2005, when a characteristic structure on the station east – a large wooden gate – the “Tsuzumi Gate”, resembling a traditional Japanese drum was constructed (Fig. 35). The gate is located in front of a gigantic steel-glass roofing – the “Motenashi Dome” (2005). The dome houses a recreation area having water arrangements, greenery and benches. The steel-glass station building itself is elevated – embracing all the station installations. The station was subsequently redeveloped for the arrival of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Shinkansen platforms are adjacent to the east exit, between the Motenashi Dome and the conventional tracks. The design concept selected for the station aimed to conceive a “station reflecting the city”. The concept can be seen in the shape of the gate and the dome, in the traditionally arranged greenery at the station plaza, and at the interiors (Fig. 40). Also at the platform, the columns have a shape reminiscent of the dynamic gate (Fig. 41). The symbolic structures at the Kanazawa Station have a strong recognition of the “gate” to the city.

Fig.37ShinTakaokaStationa Fig.38ShinTakaokaStationa
Fig.39ShinTakaokaStationa Fig.41Kanazawaa

 Fig. 37, 38, 39, 41

3. Conclusion

Railway stations in Japan have undergone huge development during the last twenty years. Currently stations perform not only transportation functions but also many other, including the roles of urban centers and local landmarks. To fulfill such roles the stations need a good architectural design. Therefore the railway companies devoted many efforts to design outstanding railway stations. Some of them have been designed with the participation of outside architects. The design of the new Shinkansen stations shows the considerations to fit the stations with local surrounding, and at the same time to develop the distinguished buildings which can introduce well their regions. New stations for new age are functional and aesthetic at the same time. High-speed railways are smoothly linked to other transportation modes, such as conventional railway lines, subways, tramways and LRT, buses, taxi and private cars. They combine well transportation function with many other functions. Among the transportation modes, Shinkansen and its stations are the effective symbols of new age.

 

[i] “Kumamoto Artpolis” is an innovative urban planning and architecture project conducted in Kumamoto Prefecture since 1988. The project was an initiative of then governor Morihiro Hosokawa, a commissioner was at first Arata Isozaki and since 1997 Toyo Ito. Several other projects have been realized under this town planning method, for example: Kumamoto North Police Station (1990), Yatsushiro Municipal Museum (1991), Shirakawa Bridge Landscaping (1992), Kumamoto Prefectural Ancient Tomb Museum (1992), Ushibuka Haya Bridge (1997), Hikawa Dam Maintenance Facility (2001), Akishita Community Hall (2009), Kumamoto South Police Station (2011), etc.

References

[1] KIDO E.M. (2012) Elements of the urbanscape in Tokyo, Commission of Architecture, Urban Planning and Landscape Studies, Polish Academy of Science, Vol. 8/1, pp. 75-92.

[2] THORNE M. (2001) Modern Trains and Splendid Stations, Merrel, London, 2001.

[3] http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/investor/

[4] http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/investor/everonward/pdf/01.pdf

[5] KIDO E.M. (2014) Stations for people – Important Factors in Station Design, IABSE Symposium Madrid 2014 Report, pp. 850-851(summery), CD-ROM (full version).

[6] TSUCHIHASHI K. (2003) Evolution theory of train stations (Eki no shinkaron), Contemporary Architecture, Vol. 57, No. 3, pp. 84-85.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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