A voyage into space with Yuri Gagarin
Boris Voskoboynikov, Maria Akhremenkova - Vox Architects
Russia has named two airports after Yuri Gagarin, the most important cosmonaut in Soviet history who in 1961 became the first man to travel into outer space. The first is located in Orenburg, while the second came into operation in 2019 and is located 20 km north of the city of Saratov, a major port on the banks of the Volga River. Gagarin studied at the Saratov Aero College, and it was here that he landed after his historic space mission.
The new Gagarin International Airport replaced its predecessor, the Saratov Tsentralny Airport, which was originally built in 1931 and was shut down in 2019 following a tragic accident that resulted in the eponymous Russian airline permanently ceasing operations. On 10 April 2018, an Antonov An-148B crashed shortly after take-off from Moscow, killing all passengers and crew. The fallout from the disaster led to the closure of both the airline and the old airport, which was originally built as the airline’s main operational base.
The closure coincided with the planned opening of a new airport. In 2014 the project had been awarded to Moscow-based Asadov Architects, who designed the contemporary metal and glass architecture of the 23,000 square metre new passenger terminal of this relatively small airport.
The terminal contains all the spaces necessary for airport operations, including waiting, departures and arrivals and service areas, while Moscow-based Vox Architects was commissioned to design the interior of the VIP Lounge.
Yuri Gagarin and the conquest of outer space are the themes that inspired the design of the 1,000 square metre two-level lounge. The concepts of space, light and the colour of the sky are clearly expressed in the design of the furnishings and finishes, the choice of materials and colours, the positions of the lighting fixtures and the fenestration, particularly the large full-height window overlooking the atrium.
The reception, restaurant, bar, games room and public lounges occupy the ground floor with direct access to the boarding area. On the more secluded first floor, futuristic half-open capsules inspired by Vostok 1, the module that carried Yuri Gagarin into space, provide more private spaces for working or relaxation. There is also a conference room, a lounge with an office, and several smaller private lounge areas.
The ground floor and first floor are connected by a spiral staircase that winds around a central cylindrical lift enclosed by curved white perforated metal panels.
The interior design is dominated by white, grey and pale wood tones, alternating with the sky blue of the furnishings and surface coverings. And of course there is a low-relief portrait of Yuri Gagarin and a reproduction of a space module that serves as a children’s play area.
The Italian ceramic industry is renowned in Russia for the high quality of its products and the services it offers during the various design stages. It is therefore hardly a surprise that the floors and one of the walls of the VIP Lounge at Saratov airport should be covered with large Laminam surfaces from the I Naturali collection with a Bianco Statuario Venato finish, creating at least a momentary sensation of a journey into outer space.
Laminam - I Naturali - Bianco Statuario Venato
1000 x 3000 mm
Bianco Statuario Venato
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,1
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): classe A
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 175 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme