Cultural reflections

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Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague (Letiště Praha) is undertaking a series of construction projects including the interior redesign of terminals 1 and 2 and the transformation of the public areas outside the terminals.

Airport operator Czech Aeroholding engaged UK-based architects Chapman Taylor International to create a sense of place in the terminals by invoking some of the symbolism of Prague and the Czech Republic. The operator has now issued a tender for the redesign of the public spaces outside the terminals to accommodate new rail connections and new parking infrastructure. The deadline for architect submissions for this tender is August 17, 2015.

Passenger Terminal World spoke to Marika Janoušková, communications manager for Vaclav Havel Airport, about the project and what it would mean for travelers in the future.

Why is the airport being redeveloped?

The modification of the terminals and their surroundings is part of a long-term plan on the part of Vaclav Havel Airport to make the time passengers spend at the airport as pleasant as possible.

The aim is to obtain a bid that reorganizes the public areas so they are prepared for the future construction of railway connections to Prague city center and the new airport parking system. The interiors of terminals 1 and 2 will be modified to evoke the beginning of passengers’ holidays in Prague and the Czech Republic immediately upon their arrival.

Where are things up to with the project?

The tender for the redesign of the external public spaces is currently underway and architects may submit tender proposals up until the August 17 deadline. The winner will be announced in late 2015. The result of the tender should be a conceptual zoning proposal where the entire outer space has been divided into smaller separate projects which will be developed in greater detail in the next phase. In addition, we are constructing a new information Welcome Center in T1 later this year.

What considerations were made regarding the local environment and community?

We have been cooperating with the surrounding municipalities and the adjacent city districts of Prague throughout the project. One of the things that we are looking to incorporate is a bike road passing near the airport. This will interconnect the surroundings and create an attractive environment for cyclists, aviation enthusiasts and the general public. We are also thinking about how we can retain rainwater from the roofs of the terminals and auxiliary buildings for the irrigation systems.

What are the main inspirations behind the two projects?

We take inspiration from other airports around the world, especially in Western Europe, where they have addressed some of the challenges in operating public spaces. We have taken inspiration on environmental issues from airports such as Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and Munich Airport in Germany, and have also picked up ideas from attending conferences such as Passenger Terminal Expo in Paris and the ACI conference in Prague.

Essentially, we will use this information to create a new image with simple references to well known tourist sights and scenes, making visitors feel that their holiday in Prague or the Czech Republic has begun upon leaving the aircraft.

The plan is currently supported by a communication campaign titled ‘We’re Changing the Airport for You’, which also serves as an umbrella for changes in parking and catering. We do not want arrival at the airport to be stressful for passengers in the future and will achieve this by streamlining transportation and related services.

What new technologies and materials will the terminal feature?

We recently installed new biometric e-gates in the T1 Departure Hall and we are possibly looking at using iBeacons technology in the future to improve the services provided to passengers.

How did you incorporate wayfinding in the design?

The new design aims to unify the public and terminal spaces and present a unified concept to passengers. It will be completed in such a way that passengers do not know the difference between the old and redesigned spaces. 

How does the design reflect changes in passenger expectations?

Studies have shown that the ambience and overall environment of the airport is one of the most important points that passengers perceive – it can affect their mood and behavior during their time at the airport. We expect passengers will respond positively to the changes and that they will bring out passengers’ interest in Prague and other parts of the Czech Republic.

How will the airport be adapted to meet future demands?

We expect increasing numbers of passengers in the future and the best way to cope with this is to improve the railway connections and ground transportation options. This will be the biggest challenge for the architects as they will need to re-organize the public space to accommodate future railway connections and the airport station.

Interview by Daniel Symonds

August 7, 2015

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Kirstie joined the team in early 2017 and brings writing, communications and client experience with her. Now an assistant editor, she produces content for our magazines and websites. Away from the office, you will find her blogging on her lifestyle website or searching the internet for photos of sausage dogs.

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