subway architecture
subway architecture subway architecture
dec 01, 2009

subway architecture




london’s underground became the first subway system in the world when it began operation in 1863. since then, underground subways have been built in almost every major city of the world. from new york and paris to hong kong and dubai, subways are an essential part of public transportation in cities. within these systems, architecture plays a big role in defining the environment of the subway. here is a collection of some of the most architecturally interesting subway stations.

T-centralen station (photo via flickr)



stockholm tunnelbana

the subway system in stockholm, sweden features art installations in almost every station. the city’s 100 stations  feature art by almost 140 artists and it is often called the world’s longest art gallery. the system may focus on artwork, but it also features a number of stations with unusual architecture. the t-centralen station is one of the most distinctive designed by per olof ultvedt in 1975. the station features a massive mural painted on the cavern-like ceiling that exposes the rocky core of the city. many of the system’s stations also feature this unique cavern ceiling that gives them an organic feeling and unique atmosphere.

stockholm tunnelbana station (photo via flickr)

solna centrum station (photo via flickr)

westfriedhof station light installation by ingo mauer (photo via flickr)




munich U-bahn

munich’s uU-bahn subway system only began in 1972, but it has quickly grown into a 98 station system spread across the entire city. because of its young age munich had the advantage of learning from the mistakes of other systems creating spacious and efficient stations. while the first stations were quite plain, the architecture of its new stations is often quite daring. some stand out stations include the colourful dulferstrasse station designed by peter lanz and jurgen rauch and westfriedhof, which features lighting installations by ingo mauer.

candidplatz station (photo via flickr)

georg-brauchle ring station with installation by franz ackermann (photo via flickr)

st. quiren platz station by hermann + ottl (photo via flickr)

bilbao metro station by foster+partners




bilbao metro

the bilbao metro is unusual among subway systems since it was designed and engineered as a whole. the stations were all designed by foster+partners, who set to use dramatic curved forms to create a signature look for the city’s transportation infrastructure. inside the stations, the space was kept as open as possible, using the full height and width of the underground tunnels. above ground, each station features a curved glass entrance that is reminiscent of a shell and became known as a fosteritos by locals.

bilbao metro station by foster+partners

bilbao metro station by foster+partners

bund sightseeing tunnel (photo via flickr)




shanghai – bund sightseeing tunnel

the bund sightseeing tunnel located in shanghai, china isn’t technically a subway system but rather a short distance transporter. measuring only 647m long, the train tunnel connects the bund to pudong. along the way  the rider is bombarded with lighting effects, music and special effects that turn the ride into something out of this world.

trains in the bund sightseeing tunnel (photo via flickr)

bund sightseeing tunnel (photo via flickr)

dubai metro station by aedas (photo via flickr)



dubai – metro station

one of the world’s newest subway systems is the automated rail network in dubai which officially opened in september of 2009. the red line which includes 10 stations is the first part of the project to be completed and features the aedas designed metro station. the international firm was selected to design all 47 stations in the new system along with two rail depots. this particular station features a curved rood design that covers the station and lets light in through small windows. the iconic building is just the start of a series of stations that will push the boundaries for subway architecture.

dubai metro station by aedas (photo via flickr)

dubai metro station by Aedas (photo via flickr)

iidabashi station by makoto sei watanabe architects (photos via tokyo buildings)




tokyo – iidabashi station

tokyo is well known for being one of the busiest subway systems is the world, but so well known for its subway architecture. the oedo line in tokyo is the newest in the city’ massive system and features some interesting designs like iidabashi station designed by makoto sei watanabe architects. the station was built in 2000 and features a distinctive faced clad with massive curved steel and glass forms. inside the station has numerous design features including a geometric green light sculpture running the length of the escalator shaft. the station’s design is also significant since it was create through computer generated forms.

iidabashi station by makoto sei watanabe architects

iidabashi station by makoto sei watanabe architects

iidabashi station by makoto sei watanabe architects (photo via flickr)

line a station (photo via flickr)





prague – line A

prague’s subway system has a diverse array of station designs that span numerous architectural styles. the line a stations all feature distinctive tile cladding that gives them a futuristic feel. each station along the line has a different colour of aluminum tile that is repeated in concave or convex patterns. the tiles are installed along the tracks and curve up the wall and onto the ceiling. this subtle variation from station to station gives riders a navigation system to guide them on their travels.

line A station (photo via flickr)

komsomolskaya station (photo via flickr)




moscow – komsomolskaya station

moscow’s komsomolskaya station definitely goes down as the most elaborate subway station. the design was built in the 1930’s and features large chandeliers, vaulted plaster ceilings and arched walkways. the classical design of the space gives the station a palatial feeling, not something you see in most subways. the station also boasts hand painted frescoes and detailed plaster moulding on almost every surface.

komsomolskaya station (photo via flickr)

museum station by diamond+schmitt architects




toronto – museum station

while most of the subways stations in toronto are very traditional, one newly remodeled station stands out. museum station is located right below the city’s royal ontario museum which was recently added to by daniel libeskind. the new station replaces simple columns with recreations of the museum’s collection including egyptian sarcophaguses, totem poles and mayan statues. the station also haswalls clad with large aluminum panels that are cut-out with the station name to reveal a hieroglyphics pattern behind. the unique station links the subway with the museum above.

museum station by diamond+schmitt architects

drassanes station by on-a arquitectura




barcelona – drassanes station

the spanish firm on-a arquitectura recently remodeled the barcelona subway station drassanes. the space’s new design was based on the concept of using the same materials as the subway cars that drive through the station. a white concrete covers the walls and slowly blends into the floors which were made vibration proof. the ceiling was made black to contrast the white and is lined with long angular light fixtures. other corridors in the station feature a mosaic of oversized tiles in a variety of vivid colours.

drassanes station by on-a arquitectura

drassanes station by on-a arquitectura


  • Great! thankx,great post!

    @tomasfaria says:
  • these are fabulous.

    Liz Wx says:
  • Impressive, if overzealous. The Tube beats all

    oli says:
  • Aloha Friends:

    While the Big Island of Hawai’i is rural and has no subway stations, I thought these subway stations around the world in big cities are interesting and would like to share with you of their existance!

    Shirley Pu Wills says:
  • London has some nice ones too!

    Iain says:
  • Una meravella!

    montserrat says:
  • A guide to the fifty most beautiful subway systems in the world:

    Mantoshkinas says:
  • OMG, Barcelona – drassanes station looks like a space ship. Amazing.

    Luanda Pereira says:
  • great finds! love ’em

    graznof says:
  • new york ciy metro should apply these designs..
    the dirtiest subway in the world.

    hwan says:
  • Nice article! But Porto’s metro stations by Alvaro Siza and Souto de Moura are missing in it…

    soundsystem says:
  • i like it

    cherien says:
  • awesome post. thx for featuring my photo of stockholm’s t-centralen.

    -m says:
  • Biobal it’s like São Paulo (Brasil), the new station of “Alto do Ipiranga”. Search 😉

    @Kakah says:
  • Not to nit pick, but on the Toronto Museum one, the plural of sarcophagus is sarcophagi, not sarcophaguses…

    Extremely cool collection though. The Spanish “Space 1999” one is sweet.

    David J. says:
  • I actually believe the subway station at O’Hare airport in Chicago belongs on this list

    Len says:
  • “these are fabulous.”

    who actually says that? why not fantastic, or super?

    lemonwrinkle says:
  • What about London’s [url=]Westminster station[/url]? I liked it pretty well!

    Steve Portigal says:
  • Definitely should add Washington, D.C.’s Metro to this list.
    [url=] Washington D.C. Metro [/url]

    C.A. Cordaro says:
  • This article wholly ignores Montreal! Theyve turned most of their metros into art installations as well.

    egger says:
  • My fav is the Arts et Metiers station on the Paris Metro. All brass and bolts – fabulous.

    Suzie says:
  • Amazing. Might also explain why Dubai can’t afford to pay their bills!

    Vasonakid 12.8.09 says:
  • Nice one to ignore Montreal, the largest underground system in the world.

    wpelr says:
  • Fir those talking about Montreal, our Metro system is far from the largest underground system in the world, even in North America. And though there is art in many stations, not one of them comes up to the standards of what this article shows, not even close.

    Christopher Ray Miller (Montreal) says:
  • The Shanghai Bund tunnel is a touristy thing. It’s not connected to the Shanghai Metro system, and it’s frightfully expensive:¥70 r/t from one side of the huangpu to the other.

    Mark Evans says:
  • I love this post! I enjoyed checking out each subway.

    Lee says:
  • Not sure if this counts as a subway, but the Brentwood Skytrain Station in suburban Vancouver is a spectacular modern design.

    hsc says:
  • orales !

    tulia says:
  • Montreal is definitely not the largest underground system and most of the stations look like garbage (the ‘stained glass’ is hilariously ugly). However, Station Lionel Groulx: totally amazing! For those of you who want to see what I mean, here is a link to [url=]Montreal Metro Architecture[/url].

    A lot of the stations are really, really stunning. And then a lot of them are just… yikes.

    Richard says:
  • It’s all very pretty, but fundamentally, you still have the distasteful sight of rails, an dark hole in the wall, loud noises, and the fear of falling of a platform into the path of a speeding train. To make subway stations truly aesthetic, you should first start with closing off the tunnels to the public so all they experience is doors opening and a subway standing in front of them. The caves may be cool, but they make me claustraphobic. I know I’m underground, but make me feel like I’m in structure above ground, a building not a bat cave.

    Number 6 rider says:
    munich subway station “marienplatz”

    guest says:
  • Beautiful. I never saw that subway in Barcelona though :(.

    [url=]-Joel Runyon[/url]

    Joel says:
  • DC should be on here too!

    [url=]Good photos of the DC metro[/url]

    reinaldo says:
  • harika,süper bunlar

    themiltat says:
  • tutti i super

    nonmivieneinmente says:
  • You should see Turin’s subway too! Lovely, even if it’s very short (only 15 stations).

    Ricky says:
  • look at Neaples new subway stations

    metroman says:
  • My favorites were Stockholm and Moscow, you can’y beat the hand painted art or the classic beauty.

    universityofutahangel says:
  • London underground stations are all unimaginative and horrible – either white tiles like a public toilet or cold harsh steel like an abbatouire – no wonder London’s stations don’t deserve to be on this page!

    zee! says:
  • and what you think about Napoli. recently sub opened with many ancient and modern art paintings and sculpture ?

    sergio stenti says:
  • A wonder where the Montreal subway stations are? They, too, were designed to display art, when first built. Perhaps they’re too old, now?

    Robin Taylor Roth says:
  • The O’Hare EL station. You’ve got to be kidding. The underground portions of the El system are purely functional with no thought of design at all unless one considers the graffiti to have some design elements.

    Tom says:
  • One thing all these beautiful stations have in common: no ads!

    dave snyder says:
  • …and Napoli?

    tonino says:
  • Really wonderful!
    The world is a great thing

    Ileana says:
  • Where is Arts et Métiers? Where is Concorde? This Francophobia is unacceptable

    Francophile says:
  • I can’t believe the writer missed Naples!

    The only “art metro” of the world, where ancient and modern art meet in all the stations.

    What was he thinking about?

    Neldot says:
  • is Montreal even the biggest metro in Canada?

    Naples is not that great, but at least it’s better looking than Rome. Rome metro might be uglier than NYC, since at least in NY they’ve cleaned up the graffiti.

    Definitely the best are in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev and Tashkent. Nothing else comes close.

    Ronald says:
  • Cool article, but does anyone proof read this text? It’s terrible (Tokyo Odeo line particularly).

    ba says:
  • see all metro’s stations of Lille (France) All!!

    a says:
  • I laughed so much when I took the Shanghai Bund Sightseeing Tunnel . And now laugh even harder when I saw it on the ‘Best Subway ARCHITECTURE’ list (!!!)

    It is actually cheesy and ridiculously corny !! Don’t know how it makes their way to be up to this list!!!!

    Someone has to ACTUALLY see it by self!

    SHBB says:
  • cooooooool

    hector says:
  • What about Athens? That’s a classy subway station with its marble floors and artifacts.

    liz says:
  • Even more examples of excellent subway station art and architecture live here: [url=] Metro Arts and Architecture [/url]

    Tom says:
  • ¡preciosas estaciones!

    melina says:
  • I’m sad that none of the wonderful stations in Montreal made the list. In fact the subway here also has the worlds largest underground city attached to it. See the individual stations with panoramic shots here:

    [URL=]Montreal By Metro[/URL]

    Ed says:
  • The original Toronto Museum station was quite boring, the revamp, likely coincided with the glass construct addition to the museum itself, which was considered ugly on somebody’s list of buidlings.

    John Ross Harvey says:
  • wow … so cool!!!

    mi says:
  • Moskow alive – the best ! Soviet classic style. Welcome to Moskow :)!

    Helen V says:
  • Shame to only have 2 shots and from only one station on Moscow’s Golden Ring. All the stations on that loop are that impressive, and each is different. Tourists get on the metro just to check out thestations!

    Gemini & Scorpio says:
  • Tienen que ver el TUNEL DE LA CIENCIA LA BOVEDA CELESTE del metro la Raza de Mexico.

    Luisbeto Muñoz Franco says:
  • Toronto’s Museum Station? You got to be kidding. The design is cheesy and looks unfinished. The ceiling was completely ignored and still has cracks and water stains. Only the platform was redone – the mezzanine/ticket booth still has the original yellow tiles. A year after the renovation, the columns are already covered in dark soot/dust and in disrepair.

    ryan says:
  • Nice to see Moscow included, too bad that the pics included don’t show more modern stations. [url=] This blog [/url] has very nice photos of stations (old & new) and infrastructure, including stations under construction.
    Blog posts/Photo captions are in Russian.

    Eugene says:
  • Oh My God ..It looks like dream land… wonderfulllllllllllllllllllllllll

    Nahad says:
  • Mexico has nicest as well….taxqueña for example 🙂 hahaha

    el nene says:
  • Wow, I didn’t thought that there is such a beautiful place like this! It’s really elegant and also futuristic. I wish that I could have a time visiting these places.

    [url=]underwater digital camera[/url]

    Zaithyn says:
  • This is really a great entry. I am putting together a great [url=]essay[/url]. I plan on writing [url=]essays[/ regarding my trips across the globe

    RedXIII says:
  • Nice! I loved your photo-[url=]essays[/url] on subway architecture.

    Kunoichi says:

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