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Airports & Architects

02.06.23
The Splash Lab has been privileged to partner with architects on many airport projects across the world. From the bathrooms at Newark Liberty International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Galaxy FBO at Houston Hobby, London Heathrow Airport and other collaborations, this unique sector is one we know best. Our design-led style and user-focused fixtures help architects create restrooms that are beautiful, functional, and most importantly, enjoyable.
Read on to learn how we help architects navigate the nuanced challenges of airport restroom design.

The challenge

From our experience, the first thing architects should consider when designing for airports is the overall level of throughput they must accommodate. Most busy airports today service over 50 million passengers per year, and this immense volume of traffic creates a very unique dynamic. Unlike other high-occupancy facilities like sports stadiums, concert halls or large office buildings, there isn't much of a "human connection" to airports. They are something of an interim space, meaning people use them out of necessity - and often don't want to spend more time in an airport than necessary. Airports are also quite impersonal spaces, and therefore it is crucial to design them in such a way that makes travelers feel like these spaces are tailored to their needs. This is quite the challenge considering the number of people that use airports every year, and the diverse range of needs these bathrooms must cater to.
The immense scope of airport design, especially when working across multiple terminals, is the second main challenge. There are many stakeholders architects must collaborate with and consider when designing airport terminals and the spaces within them. The airlines that use these terminals now and in the future have a strong voice when it comes to design plans, meaning architects have to consider design solutions for both the airport itself and these individual stakeholders.

The materials

With so much to consider from the onset of an airport project, the most important things to focus on first with regard to bathrooms are quality and materials. Any product an architect specifies must be able to withstand an extreme level of throughput, accidental damage and even improper use. Solid surface and stainless steel materials like what's used in our basins, taps, soap dispensers and hand dryers are therefore ideal choices for airport use. Everything we create is built with high-quality materials that are guaranteed to last, without sacrificing the design-led style that makes them so appealing.

The cost

The second main focus in airport bathroom design is cost - both in terms of the actual cost per square foot, but also the cost of a bad user experience. A user's experience is crucial to creating a space that they not only enjoy, but remember too. Cutting back on the cost per square foot here might seem like an easy way to create more space in the budget, but it can have lasting detrimental impacts. Opting for inferior quality products often leads to high maintenance costs in the future as well as worse user experiences, which reduces longevity and overall appeal. The Splash Lab collaborates closely with architects throughout the planning and specification processes to optimize bathroom design. We take a holistic approach that combines premium quality products with an unrivaled user experience – creating memorable spaces all within budget.

The future

"Futureproofing" is the third main consideration for airport bathroom design and encompasses a few key elements like the overall project timeline, safety and cleanliness, and aftercare. Designing or redesigning an airport terminal is a lengthy process that can take five to ten years, or even longer. That being said, it is vital to consider user needs, wants and potential problems that may arise years after the initial planning is done. For example, COVID-19 demonstrated how many airport bathrooms lacked essential fixtures like sensor taps and hand dryers - a cornerstone of contemporary bathroom design. We can't know what the future holds, but we must design these spaces to be versatile and adaptable for even the most unexpected occurrences.
Bathroom safety and cleanliness is another component of futureproofing considering the high levels of throughput airports experience every year. Airport bathrooms must be designed to the highest sanitary standards to ensure all travelers can protect themselves and others, no matter their circumstances. Space between user areas, proper sanitary accessories, hygienic fixtures and germ-resistant materials are but a few things to consider when designing airport bathrooms. The Splash Lab collaborates with architects to supply products like our Monolith basin system for this very reason. Its modular design, non-porous surface tidy user areas and compatibility with our range of touchless fixtures and accessories make the Monolith a truly simple solution.
The final component of futureproofing is aftercare. Essentially, aftercare considers the overall practicality and costs of conducting maintenance. Can damages be repaired easily or does the entire fixture need to be replaced (as is the case with porcelain)? Will maintenance staff struggle to repair internal components, or are they easily accessible like in the custom consoles we designed for Dallas-Fort Worth? Will the fixtures be durable enough to handle a high level of throughput, or will they need to be replaced after a few years? These are all crucial design elements that architects must consider when creating airport bathroom spaces - and we consider all of them in the thoughtful design of our products.

The result

It's no secret that airport design is extremely complex. When it comes to bathrooms, every detail must be carefully considered to create engaging, safe, durable and enjoyable spaces for the millions of people that use them every year. Our many collaborations and years of experience have taught us firsthand what it takes to create airport bathrooms that exceed expectations and add real value to the spaces they're in. Expert industry insight and high-quality, design-led products are what make The Splash Lab a true asset to every architect we partner with.
Contact us today to learn more about how we collaborate with architects and visit a showroom to experience our award-winning design in-person.

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