Decoding Design

Amsterdam Airport uses technology to create a sense of nature

Amsterdam Airport uses technology to create a sense of nature

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Designed with all the senses in mind, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol's Airport Park is a 'mixed reality' city park.

Leave it to one of the happiest countries on earth to find a way to make even waiting at the airport a happy experience.  Beyond the now standard distractions of shopping, fine dining, and spa treatments offered at airports, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol's Airport Park gives travelers the chance to breathe fresh air, soak up some sun, and watch butterflies.

Schiphol's central waiting and retail area is a city park themed space designed with a technique the Airport and the designer, Maurice Mentjens, have dubbed 'mixed reality.'  Instead of just mimicking the look of a park, the design incorporates moving sights and sounds to recreate the feel.  It's a place to enjoy the act of enjoying a day in the park.

Digital butterflies float on the floor and walls, and sounds of bicycles, playing children, and birds are piped into the space.  Sensory recognition technology and good old fashioned pedal power add movement to a space where being stationary is the normal function.  Travelers can interact with the butterflies and also have the authentic city park experience of riding on a bicycle, while generating electricity to charge up electronic devices.  When ivy covers the plant-impregnated seating, the waiting areas will literally have a natural feel.  The space also opens onto an outdoor terrace if virtual nature is not enough.

A video of Airport Park's interactive floor and walls and an opening day picnic can be seen on Amsterdam Airport Schiphol's website.

Images: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure