Contemporary airports are offering distinct experiences to its travellers, and are becoming more than just pit stops that connects you from one part of the world to the other. A place where everyone goes, airport spaces break down hierarchies and bring all kinds of people together, irrespective of class and social status, in a secular atmosphere.
During the recent Hyderabad Design Week hosted by the Government of Telangana in partnership with India Design Forum, Amit Gupta (founder, curator, content director | STIR) and Mrinalini Ghadiok (editor | STIR) had a chat with Cristiano Ceccato (associate director | Zaha Hadid Architects), where the three delved into the nuances that make contemporary airports experiential entities that double as catalysts in driving global urbanisation.
“An airport is like a microcosm of a particular city,” said Ceccato, who spearheads international airport projects such as the recently completed Daxing Airport in Beijing, the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport in India's financial capital Mumbai, as well as the recently announced Western Sydney International Airport. He pointed out that in designing these macro-scale infrastructures, one needs to understand whether the airport is a means to an end - concerning complex planning and engineering aspects such as baggage and circulation design - or is it an end in itself where people feel a sense of place.
He touched upon the importance of filtering contextual sensibilities and aesthetics within the design of airports. Referencing the architecture of the Beijing airport, where the flowing forms resonate with Chinese sensitivities, Ceccato remarked that introducing context enfolds the project into the urban fabric.
“The king,” he said, “is of course the Singapore Changi Airport. They have understood what a traveller wants, who is between long flights, and is also conscious of being in that state of transience.”
He gave clues as to what one could expect in the Navi Mumbai International Airport, and how it would differ from the iconography of Mumbai's existing airport facility. The project, according to him, would exemplify a different way of understanding India as it is today and how it might be in the future.
From recalling his own first experience at an airport to reflecting on the journey of designing airports across the world, Ceccato believes that providing the arrival experience is as important, if not more, as the departure, as it is one’s first point of contact with a city or a country. And sure as he said, this experience matters.