The new terminal at Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliyev International Airport in the country’s capital of Baku features interior architecture and experiential design by Autoban. Bearing all the hallmarks of the multidisciplinary studio’s experimental, genre-defying approach, the contemporary interiors overturn airport conventions of cavernous space and impersonal experience.
Taking inspiration from Azerbaijani hospitality, Autoban’s Red Dot award-winning design spans the entirety of the terminal’s passenger spaces, and includes striking custom-made wooden cocoons that create a sense of welcome and discovery, and opportunities to either meet or retreat.
At the terminal, Autoban’s bespoke furnishings and lighting schemes upend airport typologies, opting for tactile natural materials such as wood, stone and textiles, gently and warmly lit. The cocoons – which vary in size and house an array of cafes, kiosks and other amenities – exist at the convergence of architecture and art, creating an inviting, intriguing landscape within the huge transportation hub that challenges expectations of the airport environment.
The studio has also conceived, designed and furnished four lounges exclusively for business class use, extending the best of their hospitality expertise to these premium passengers.
Turkish Airlines is Turkey’s national airline, and their CIP lounge serves with a daily capacity of 2000+ people as it is also open to Business Class travellers of other airlines in the Star Alliance.
The briefing for the new CIP Lounge project to replace the old one was ‘to offer Turkish hospitality at its highest in a relaxing and contemporary atmosphere.’
While the main idea was to create a ‘contemporary Turkey experience’, Autoban returned to the concept of 'Kervansaray' – the traditional roadside inns where travellers could rest and recover from the day's journey. The designers also revisited the curvy domes of Istanbul’s mosques, most of them being the century-old works of famous Ottoman architect Sinan the Great, and the unique architecture of the Grand Bazaar.
Borrowing the traditional arcade system for a contemporary purpose, Autoban designed a series of bubble-like portals, which create a substructure within the airport hall. This substructure helps bring the gigantic environment of the airport down to a more human scale and lend warmth to the space. In some areas of the lounge, round openings in the architectural substructure reveal the larger proportions of the terminal.
The 5.2 metre-high spherical pods divide the space into sections, while maintaining open views of the rest of the lounge and providing a sense of continuation. Each one of the pods serve to a specific purpose such as the library, restaurant, tea garden, piano area, screening room, meeting room, kids’ playground or the rest rooms, and starting from the entrance, they are organized in order of the priorities of the passengers’ needs. The interconnected portals allow transitions in between them, and while moving through the spaces, the passengers are encouraged to discover each module with curiosity.
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