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Subway Stations in Japan Get Minimalist Workstations and Benches

It’s all in an effort to design subway platforms for productivity

Subway stations are more than just waypoints along a commute: They’re valuable public spaces that could better meet visitor’s needs. Such is the thinking behind a new set of benches and work stations just added to three Tokyo subway stations along the Ginza Line.

Designed by Nikken Activity Design (NAD) Lab, the slatted wood-and-metal furniture pairs function—sitting, waiting, working—with a simple aesthetic. After studying visitor habits, NAD Lab decided to create not just benches, but banks of standing desk cubicles outfitted with an electrical outlet, mirror, and soft overhead light.

These phone booth-like workstations were designed with acoustics in mind. The wooden dowels dividing the stalls form a kind of acoustic shield that reduces environmental noise and helps keep phone conversations private.

Similarly-designed bench module offers space to sit, lean, or work, with a counter-height shelf for placing heavy items, laptops, or just trying to fish something out of your bag. Beneath the shelf, a set of hooks can hold additional bags or umbrellas while riders wait for their train.

These additions may be simple, but they have the potential to improve the station experience for hundreds of riders.