A journey towards total comfort
Archform Achitecture & Design Studio
According to forecasts made by the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), the total number of air passengers worldwide will reach 7.8 billion by 2036, twice the 2017 figure. Air travel is expanding rapidly in step with the demographic growth of cities and is the powerhouse driving much of the world’s economy. The challenge now is to find a way of turning even a long-haul flight into an enjoyable experience.
In today’s airports, the sensation is not one of merely waiting to depart but rather a foretaste or a continuation of the experience of staying in a hotel. Thanks to design, expansion and renovation projects coupled with a previously unimaginable range of services, airports are the transit spaces that have seen the most dramatic changes in the last ten years.
Chisinau airport is no exception. Its history dates back to 16 September 1944 and the launch of the Detaşamentului Aeronautic Independent Moldovenesc (the Moldovan Independent Air Force Squadron), a date that is now celebrated as the official founding of the Moldovan Civil Aviation Authority. Since then, the airport has grown in a series of steps. In 1970, it began operating flights to all regions of the Soviet Union, then on 13 September 1990 it opened up its first international route to Frankfurt. Chisinau airport won the International Airport award in 1995. Since then it has seen exponential growth and recorded five million passenger transits a year in 2016.
The recent terminal renovation
The terminal’s 2019 restyling project included work on the business lounge and restaurant area, where the Beige Experience tile collection in the Royal Beige colour from Italgraniti was chosen as the surface covering. The marble surface of the tiles produces a translucent, almost backlit effect on the walls and floors. The colour creates a warm atmosphere with soft, diffused lighting that appears to envelop the furniture and structure. When first opened in April 2012, the business lounge was very different and was intended as an initial response to the growth in passenger traffic and the process of differentiating passenger flows and spaces that was being adopted in all international airports. The business area renovation and extension was part of the overall terminal expansion project, which involved doubling and optimising the available space and introducing new functions in keeping with global digital trends.
The business lounge: focus
The colour palette adopted in the new business lounge is dominated by the orange accents of the individual corner-shaped seats designed to ensure passenger privacy. This colour coordinates effectively with the ecru coloured partitions and the walls, creating a series of secluded spaces where people can sit and relax. The beauty of the design is matched by the functionality of the metal-framed wooden tables integrated into each seat. The chequerboard arrangement of the seats acts as a counterpoint to the Italgraniti tiles installed on the walls, which lend themselves to a compositional interplay between the dark mirror surfaces and the highlighted joints, producing an effect that is almost reminiscent of picture frames. In this project, the ceramic tiles serve not only as a hygienic and high-performance surface covering but as a compositional element of the wall itself. Praise should go to both the manufacturer and the architects from the firm Archform who fully appreciated the product’s potential.
Overview of airport design
I recently had the pleasure to consult the enormous archive available in the Research & Insight area of the design and consulting firm Gensler, which includes a number of articles pointing out how passengers now expect a lot from the design of airports. Above all, passengers expect an experience that reflects the spirit and culture of the city they are visiting rather than the sense of alienation caused by monotonous waiting areas. Moreover, investments in projects to restyle these high-traffic spaces are guided by detailed economic analyses. Comfortable and welcoming airports act as ambassadors for the cities they serve, arousing a great deal of curiosity and interest and in turn fuelling economic growth and innovation.
Italgraniti, Beige Experience
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): Ev < 0,5%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): < 175 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): compliant
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant