In our modern world, airports are the welcome mats to the city. A place for goodbyes and hellos, airports are also an important public space. And while I use the term 'public' loosely it's no doubt airports are catering to the needs and experiences of the public (or publics). The $450 million (Aus) investment at Canberra Airport is just one example of recent global upgrades focused on customer experience.
Across the globe, a number of airports are focusing on architecture while others are looking towards experiences on the ground. Some recent architectural examples include the Incheon International Airport in Seoul or Madrid Airport's impressive internal pylons. Other airports are more subtle, focused on sensory moments like Changi Airport with it's internal garden trails, and Heathrow's popup park and dining experience. Most recently, Australia's capital, Canberra received a much needed upgrade, and while there are still improvements to be made, the airport is definitely moving in the right direction.
On arrival, Canberra Airport's new exterior demands attention. It's a statement that reflects the many architectural landmarks in the Capital. Once inside, customers are welcomed with a large foyer and two luminescent walls on each end of the space. The walls, while contributing to the public art registry of the airport, create silhouettes out of anyone who passes in front of them. It's a great effect that plays with the human form and provides a warm light to an otherwise white space. Other notable forms of art include Australia's largest cast bronze sculpture and another sculpture inside the terminal that fills the space comfortably and captures the imagination.
While the public art, symmetry and large spaces pay homage to Walter Burley Griffin's original plan for Canberra, a number of opportunities exist for better micro experiences and customer comfort. In the design, the airport has considered future growth but while these spaces are not used, a temporary function would improve the overall aesthetic. The bathrooms, while being simple, should also express the grandeur experienced outside and any cafes or restaurants should promote local Canberrean produce and skills.
Airports are more creative than ever and realise place based marketing
opportunities exist as soon as the passenger exits the plane door, or
even sooner, on the descent. We look forward to seeing the next steps in Canberra Airport's AirVolution.
What are your favourite airports across the globe?