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Transit Architecture Time for a Drastic Change

Transit Architecture Time for a Drastic Change

Special Feature

Special Feature User-Driven Airport Design The change in the aspirations of the users has brought about a huge transition in the design of airports, wherein apart from regular travel, a host of other activities have been added to the premise. Also, technological advances that root for a seamless experience for the users with efficient utilisation of space. Nida Chikte Passengers spend ample amount of time at the airport, and although after a while, almost all terminals begin to resemble each other, several basic designs have evolved over time. These evolutions came about in response to the increasing number of passengers, and, additionally due to the increase in the size of airplanes which was also a driving factor to draw more passengers to air travel. This clearly denotes that the transitions are majorly dependant on the users. Hence, it is a given that with gradual shifts in these spheres, airport design and functioning is bound to change. Though most of the airport designs are based on or are inspired from designs of the past century to some extent, designers are striving to create modern environments that are in tandem with the needs and aspirations of the modern traveller, while also keeping in mind the institutional requirements for safety and security. SPACES AND EXPERIENCES Airport designers and architects today are facing challenges in different aspects of designing, from replacing legacy facilities to offering the best in aesthetics and user experience. But, due to limited space, they are often left with minimal options to work out an efficient circulation pattern that focuses not only on passenger flow but also better functioning of the space. Photo Credit: Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai 24 Architecture Update February 2018

Flexibility is an important aspect that designers must inculcate in their design, as owing to changing needs and trends, the usage of a space changes from time to time. Flexible space design becomes imperative, especially with changing security needs and new technology shifting how airlines interact with passengers. Nowadays, passengers are looking out for a seamless experience. But, this provision need not be only in terms of the airport system management. The design of the airport premise itself should be such that it caters to this aspect, with minimal intervention required by the management. Also, many places don’t have the space or resources for a complete overhaul, so designers are extensively looking at measures by which the user experience can be enhanced, with nominal resources. Airport designers are increasingly turning to better communication, signage, and technology to make passenger flow more efficient, eliminate the feeling of being in a funnel, and the navigation process as straightforward as possible. Also, by streamlining the passenger journey, it is also creating a shift in segregated areas for the premium passenger experience. KEY TRENDS Over the last 20 years, there has been a significant increase in the air traffic worldwide. While that level of growth is unlikely to characterise the next 20 years, with the emergence of a middleclass in China and India, there is every reason to believe that the long-term growth will continue. Technology and sustainability are two trends that have dramatically impacted the design of airports over the past 20 years. Sustainability has become a mainstream design philosophy. Technology too, has major impacts on the overall working of airports, which in turn affects the design as well. Technology is transforming terminal design and will enable existing infrastructure to be streamlined. Newer designs that are coming up, are adequately sized, taking due advantage of technological advances to make better use of a limited space. This would not only be beneficial for the users, but by doing so, they would be able to save up on ample of space in a time where space crunch is becoming a major issue, especially in highly populated cities. Speaking of sustainability, this facet is now a common phenomenon that is widely accepted and adopted. But, in a time when ‘net zero’ buildings are coming up in various building typologies, there is no such airport that has come about in the recent past, while ideally, airports should have been the first of the lot since they work on a global scale wherein it also shapes the identity of the city or the country. With respect to this, designers are also attempting to use light and space in such a manner that they don’t create any disruptions in the traveller’s experience, but design such that natural light is used to its best potential, reducing on the cost and energy required for artificial lighting. SYNERGISM Previously, airports were only meant for to and fro movement of passengers and hence had only the required facilities needed for the same. But, owing to change in trends and speculating the amount of time passengers spend at the airport, the idea of synergy of logistical functions alongwith other activities came into being, to bring about a transition in user experience to keep them engaged. The most common ideology is the commercialisation of airports, wherein commerce has become a part and parcel of any airport design. Take for example the Dubai Duty Free at the Dubai Airport, UAE, the airport is better known for its commercial Photo Credit: Dubai Airport, Dubai, UAE Architecture Update February 2018 25

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