You will agree that airports, especially large ones, can be dreadfullly boring in an interior context. Endless expanses of tiled floors and glass walls with minimal seating. However, the Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, Azerbaijan maybe one of the very few exceptions to this trend.
To encourage wandering (and make it engaging) Istanbul based architects, Autoban, created an intricate wooden ‘village’ within the Airports Terminal. The interior which covers about 60,000 sq m offered a blank canvas for Autoban to create something special in the Arup built Terminal.
Their design features a series of 16 wooden cocoons, which are used for various functions from ticket kiosks to a cafe and a children’s playroom. The composition draws from Arups work on the terminal as well as the country’s culture of hospitality. The organic forms of the cocoon, give a more human scale to the large terminal space creating a “village street-like organisation” that, in turn, encourages the previously mentioned “wandering”.
The Cocoons range is size from roughly 30 sq m to 350 sq m with some of them as high as 10m and as wide as 12m, one particular type contains two stories. The structure of the cocoon is made up of a lattice of wooden beam that interlock via precut dovetail joints. In some of the cocoon types, this structure is exposed to allow ‘wanderers’ a peek inside.
Once the structure of the cocoon is done, laminated, diamond-shaped wooden panels clad the exterior, creating a woven or scale like aesthetic. Each cocoon, depending on the type took between 2 – 3 weeks to construct.
The team used Rhinoceros and AutoCAD to design the cocoons and 3ds Max to place the cocoons into the overall interior design. They 3D printed one model of the open-framework cocoons in ABS M30i, a biocompatible, production-grade thermoplastic, at a 40:610 (0.065) scale, which the designers deemed best for evaluating the visual and functional aspects of the cocoons. Before construction began, Ankara, Turkey–based contractor Mapa built a full-size mock-up in Ankara.
The final product of this unique design is a joy to behold. It adds great texture and detail to the terminal space, making for very engaging “wandering”, and more enjoyable airport experience.
The cocoons and their geometric pattern of diamond cladding do well to accentuate and reinforce the pre-existing aesthetic of the terminal. Add dashes of greenery and vegetation and the ‘village’ starts to come alive. Cue the mood lighting and you get a sense of what the designers vision was for the previously cavernous void. I’d glady wonder about in here, and quite possible run the risk of missing a flight or two.