New Building for Air Crew Changeovers and Rest Stops – Completed 1991
A new building for the Airports Authority, at the North Terminal of Gatwick airport. It was commissioned to contain office space and ‘lounges’ for the air crew transfers, where pilots and crew from various airlines come for training or debriefing, preparing for new trips, layovers etc.
So it was both airside on the first floor and above and public access space on the ground floor.
The client requested that we (I was working in-house at the time) produced a number of design proposals in order to get the flavour of what they were looking for, for the two entrance areas of the building. Jubilee house was built to commemorate 50 years at Gatwick, and the first building was a marvellous tin shack that existed for quite a number of years. After numerous presentations, this design was accepted.
Because the building needed security and an ‘interface’ with people visiting the building, a reception desk was part of the brief along with waiting areas, and at the time (pre mobile telephones), a callbox with both external and internal connections. In today’s world, a reception desk, in this instance would be redundant.
As it was a new build, the services were already a part of the fabric, I was able to create the space within the shell, so the flying ceiling came about. I was trying to make the space less shed like and also have some reference to flying. It helps to break up a straightforward rectangle, and creates more intimacy over the waiting and reception areas.
The materials used: stainless steel, white laminate, helped to create a clean, and modern space, with nods to the original tin shed and early flying, by using exposed rivets and curved steel ends to the island (and originally projecting walls). Concealed or non-directional lighting is also used well to create ambient lighting levels.
The flooring looks like granite but was a new product at the time. It’s a composite polished aggregate and resin tile. I used both glossy and matt tiles, and a band of a darker colour in the seating area, to create a ‘rug’ effect visually, helping to ‘zone’ the areas.
The seating was also very new at the time, airport lounge type seating, with textured steel seats, aluminium frames and granite block bases. Practical, stylish (even now), and comfortable enough to sit on whilst waiting for a meeting or whatever.
The building is an ‘H’ block in plan, so in order to allow people access with or without accompaniment, I had to design the signage and way finding. It took the form of directories at key locations, colour coded and ‘branded’ with the Gatwick Airport brand.
A combination of wall cladding materials, polished floors, concealed or non-directional lighting, planning the space by ignoring the constraints, all help to make the space a practical, and attractive entrance area for constant traffic to and from the terminal buildings.