With an estimated 3.7 million commuters daily, Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, in Japan, is considered the busiest transportation hub in the world. As part of a revitalization project, East Japan Railway Company enlisted Moment Factory, with the support of Sony Music Solution Inc., to develop a flagship multimedia installation for the station’s busy East-West Passageway.
Connecting disparate ends of the station, the passageway serves as a crucial thoroughfare for many daily commuters. In anticipation of plans to open the ticketed passageway to the public, JR-East seized upon the opportunity to transform the corridor into a symbolic landmark and meeting place.
Moment Factory’s mandate was to create a multimedia infrastructure that would inspire wonder, calm, and fluid circulation. To bring JR-East’s vision and debut multimedia project to life, creative and technical teams in both Montreal and Tokyo leveraged the studio’s expertise in optimizing high-volume transportation hubs that prioritize the passenger experience, including Singapore’s Changi Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and Moynihan Train Hall in New York City.
Inspired by Shinjuku’s many facets, The Colour Bath is a large-scale, multi-purpose multimedia ecosystem that transforms the East-West Passageway into a harmonious environment. A combination of light, sound, video, and scenography combine to envelop commuters in sensorial serenity, putting them at ease while still encouraging the continuous flow of pedestrian traffic. A series of more than 24 unique colour bath moments evoke the seasonal and diverse story of the region’s distinct culture, reimagining the tunnel as a beacon of Shinjuku pride.
A confluence of calm amid commuter chaos
Stretching 100 meters long, and less than 25 meters wide, the passageway funnels more people between its walls in a single day than the entire population of Austin, Texas. A key challenge behind this project was to create a greater sense of comfort and spaciousness within the narrow confines of the existing tunnel. The tunnel was further congested by a patchwork of wayfinding, emergency, and advertising messaging that Moment Factory’s teams had to account for and complement in the design of the multimedia ecosystem.
The studio’s approach was to create a cohesive multimedia canvas where all forms of content can coexist.
“We created a colour bath that synchronizes all media surfaces in the space and surrounds visitors in colourful hues, one after the other, creating a calming experience, but also infusing a bit of wonder into people’s days,” says Amy Chartrand, Creative Director at Moment Factory.
Rather than being a non-descript hallway, The Colour Bath sets the once-uninviting passage awash in warm and welcoming hues. No colour choice was random. Each shade is saturated with a deep appreciation for cultural significance in collaboration with JR-East. Even the unique tones of the Shinjuku sky were carefully calibrated to breathe more air into the space.
The largest of its kind in Japan, the 45-meter LED screen spans nearly half the length of the thoroughfare, while strategically placed lighting adds depth and height to the concourse. Inspired by Shinjuku’s landscapes and diversity, a replenishing cycle of 24 capsules reflects the time of day, various traffic periods, and changing seasons, ensuring the experience stays fresh for daily commuters and visitors. Behind the scenes, an integrated system architecture creates a unified experience and allows for multiple uses, including branded takeover moments.
A model for high-traffic transit hubs
Through iconic multimedia installations and signature experiences, Moment Factory changes the way travellers experience their journeys. Adding moments of surprise and wonder to user experiences requires precision and a refined understanding of crowd flow and operational processes. As the world’s busiest travel hub, Shinjuku Station represented the ultimate challenge.
To maintain continuous circulation and prevent traffic jams, Moment Factory developed custom ambient content with the aim of infusing the passageway with flowing energy.
“Because of the volume of passengers, this unique space requires that people keep moving, ‘feeling’ the environmental content around them as they pass through, rather than stopping to look at it. We designed the installation with that objective in mind,” explains Chartrand.
Drawing from the studio’s expertise in rock shows, where the main focus is on the star, rather than on the content, Moment Factory’s creative teams imagined multimedia surfaces as architectural features that would reward, but not demand attention. Several UX and VR tests were performed to understand how people react, feel, and read the screen’s content with their bodies. Every detail, down to the speed at which visual effects unfold across the length of the screen, was optimized for enjoyment at a walking pace.
A conduit for Shinjuku pride
As one of the country’s biggest ambient media installations, The Colour Bath has become a fixture on social media channels such as YouTube and Instagram, where visitors share photos, selfies, and video tours.
“Every day, I see numerous customers posting about it on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks,” says Shinjuku Station Master, Hidehiko Moriyama. “I think it’s going to become a Shinjuku landmark in the future.”
Beyond connecting passengers across the station, the free passageway is now a conduit for Shinjuku pride.
“I believe we have been able to create a user experience that not only provides a sense of warmth and positivity, considering today’s sense of anxiety, but also conveys the goodness of Shinjuku and the value of the area to everyone who passes through,” says Minori Osawa, Lifestyle Division Director at JR-East.
The multimedia installation earned national recognition by winning the Grand Prix at the 2021 Digital Signage Awards.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime visionary project,” says Normand-Pierre Bilodeau, Producer at Moment Factory. “It exemplifies what can be done for public life in urban environments when you combine creativity, revenue generation, and operations.”
- Project Name: The Colour Bath
- Location: Shinjuku City, Japon
- Client: East Japan Railway Company
- Installation Design and Production : Moment Factory