Wayfinding Design of Intermodal Passenger Stations from the Perspective of Passengers

Wayfinding Design of Intermodal Passenger Stations from the Perspective of Passengers


Katarzyna Foljanty, Warsaw University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture


With a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, this research conduced in 2014 in Berlin and Leipzig focused on the passengers’ needs concerning the aesthetics and functionality of the spatial design of intermodal railway stations.


With the renaissance of the railway system in the past 20 years, the station building, historically the gateway to the city and the nucleus for dynamic urban development, has become a key urban infrastructure facility again. But the change of passengers’ needs and the necessity to interconnect different modes of public and private transport has created new requirements to the features of train stations. An important task for the coming years is to strengthen the position of railways in an integrated system and to increase the demand for this mode of transport. This requires a number of measures to improve the standards of passenger service, amongst others, the functional design of the station buildings. An integration of users’ experiences into the design process can contribute to positive results regarding intermodality and may improve the public opinion about rail facilities.
This research conducted between March 2014 and September 2014 in two station buildings in Berlin and Leipzig, took up behavioral quality issues related to wayfinding, transfer options and technical aspects concerning ventilation, lighting and acoustics. The study target focused on subjective feelings of the main users - the passengers - concerning aesthetics and functionality of the spatial design. A mixed strategy was used, in which quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (case studies) examination was carried out in parallel. The main research tool was a questionnaire designed to gather information on the impact of railway station design on the needs and emotional reception of passengers and furthermore to indicate irregularities that could be avoided in similar projects in future. Orientation at the station must take into account the needs of different groups of customers (tourists, commuters, people with disabilities, parents with children, etc.). In Leipzig’s historic station building, more than 80% of respondents reported that the station’s orientation was very or fairly easy but in Berlin’s new and Europe’s largest railway hub 38% of respondents answered that they had stumbled across some obstruction or had had difficulties in finding the way from one mode of transport to another. For 78% of the interviewees it was related to the architectural design. The findings show that in the planning process the designers’ (intentional or unintentional) decisions may cause problems of wayfinding for future users. This study can help professionals involved in the design and decision-making process to recognize strengths and weaknesses of existing intermodal stations, and it may become an important tool for the future designs.


Association for European Transport