Have you ever wondered what's above ground on the metro?

Focus Area

Sometimes just thinking of a crowded subway commute can evoke sadness in even the most optimistic among us. Realizing how an underground railway cuts out the perception of place, movement or passage of time, we decided to focus on addressing this need.

Immersing ourselves into a series of journeys on underground trains, we mapped the sensory deprivation that we perceived. This starting point guided us through various systems that could be redesigned for better travel experience. Simultaneously, we studied research and experimentation previously executed by designers in this space.


The lack of a visual connection to reality on ground level presented the most promising opportunity in the context of the London tube. Combining TFL’s efforts of bringing art to the tube and emerging advertising technologies, a clearer picture emerged.


We revisited underground stations and repeated our journeys along the various lines, this time specifically to understand the visual dimension missing. In addition, we conducted various experiments through wall, floor and ceiling projections that surprised onlookers. 

Prototyping & Testing
Testing various visual elements and perspectives on our full-scale prototype train, we finalized on visualizing the built forms along the train path in real-time. Buildings, trees, and other urban paraphernalia would be presented in an exaggerated perspective, almost as if we were able to look upward through the train roof.

These animations were coded in javascript using processing and plugged to an arduino for physical interaction. We returned to the underground to test the popularity of these animations.

Service Model
With successful user validation, we pursued the business case for the system. Leveraging Google’s AdWords advertising model, we projected a break-even time for the investment in display materials within the carriages.

Working Prototype

We built a full-scale working prototype with representative materials as a final deliverable for the project. Non-reflective e-paper display panels are proposed for the ceiling display. Real-time travel information and contextual advertising helps travellers explore the city while engaging with the journey.