Stuck in an airport queue recently? What do you remember about the place? For anyone who has passed through an airport, its interior design is often the last thing remembered. Airports can be generic and boring facilities that shuffle large amounts of people through; only rarely do they capture the imagination and tell the passenger something about the place in which they are located.
Students on the Interior Design Practice Foundation Degree at Truro and Penwith College were challenged to inject cultural references into an airport of their choice. Apart from thinking about how airports were used and what passengers might expect from being in the departure or arrivals halls, students considered how lighting, colour and design can affect the overall experience.
Kelly Moorfield’s design for Tunisia’s airport used vibrant colours and the architecture of a typical riad to conjure cultural reference. Focussing on the airport being a portal to worlds beyond, Kelly chose typical Tunisian doorways. Kelly commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge, finding researching my chosen airport and country to be highly informative and interesting. The project illustrated to me how important it is to be able to convey conceptual and creative ideas on a written level, which definitely helped me when it came to presenting my ideas to the rest of the group.”
Jon Price used gold and black tartan upholstery, offset with a large mural in Newquay’s departure lounge tracing the ‘Cousin Jacks’ and the emigration of significant numbers of Cornishmen to places around the world. Also for Newquay, modern technology such as interactive screens for tourist information featured alongside a timeline of local aviation history in the arrivals hall in Jamie Hanlon’s concepts.
Rach Wilson’s innovations were a proposal to replace traditional seating with sun-loungers to extend the holiday feeling at Palma de Mallorca and a photo wall where tourists could print images directly from their phones and display them on a wall. Airport designs farther afield included Male in the Maldives where Dilly Schmidt recommended updating its rather utilitarian shed with colourful displays that emphasised local conservation efforts and dive tourism. For Las Vegas, Emma Brindle’s design tapped into the town’s history, from desert to gambling mecca and incorporated larger-than-life animatronics to reference the over-the-top glitziness of the place.
For Bahrain’s uninspiring and culturally bland modernist airport, Amie Bradshaw‘s concept invoked an oasis and provided historical and cultural references via geometric tiles. Controversially, Amie abolished corporate branding on global outlets like McDonalds or Starbucks which she felt did nothing to differentiate one place from another.
Course leader Ian Buckingham said “The project was interesting and challenging. Fortunately the students have already experienced a project for Ocean Housing, which required injection of local culture; and for Cornwall Council they had to address the issues of way-finding and navigation through the public spaces at County Hall. All of which informed their research into the apparent lack of cultural references and navigational issues involved in the usually uninspiring spaces that make up airports around the world. Sometimes we need a little more than another retail opportunity. It was great to see that they looked far afield and found similar conditions, which raises questions about the design of airports.”