Light at the End of the Tunnel: Transit Wayfinding in Underground Spaces

Mr Anthony Ferri1

1Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany


How does colour and lighting affect navigational experience in underground spaces? The act of navigating is ingrained in daily life, and the more one performs that act, the more automatic the act becomes (Montello, 2005). Individuals who travel the same public transit routes daily, tend to perform these tasks “without thinking” of their navigational choices. When a disturbance occurs in their routines, navigational decisions have to be made. These are typically based off of previous experience, comfort levels, and how the surrounding environment is perceived. Indoor and underground transit environments can be unclear and feel chaotic, leading to high levels of disorientation. Here, users rely heavily on lighting, colours, and wayfinding devices in order to help orient themselves in this, often confusing, setting. A Destination-Task Investigation (DTI) used in this study, helps to explore a user’s experience while navigating through indoor and underground transit spaces, how environmental characteristics (such as colour, lighting, and physical design) elicit certain emotional responses in navigational decisions, and how perception to certain navigational challenges impacts route and mode choice. The DTI involves recording first-hand experience from participants as they navigate through unfamiliar transit environments followed by an interview focusing on the participant’s decision-making process.


Anthony Ferri, holds a Masters degree in Urban Development and Design from the University of New South Wales and a Masters of Science from the Technical Univeristy of Munich. He is currently a PhD candidate with the mobil.LAB at the Technical University of Munich in Germany. His research focuses on wayfinding and mobilities. His e-mail address is:


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