Estimated reading time: 4 min

Heading up RMJM Serbia, this couple is a powerhouse of sleek, contemporary design. We sat down with Jelena and Goran to discuss their latest success: Sheremetyevo Terminal C.

What Was The Most Challenging Aspect of Designing Terminal C?

J: Airports present some unique challenges because there are a LOT of working parts. It can be taxing to ensure functionality with so many vital airport processes to consider. The process is complex but that makes it all the more satisfying when you complete the concept designs.

G: Airport processes are stressful for passengers, so one of our main challenges was working out how we can ease that. We wanted to create an experience where people were able to meet Russia in the airport and then take a little bit of Russia away with them. Airports are transitional spaces, so we wanted to find a way of introducing passengers to Moscow from the moment they stepped off the plane. 

What Is Your Favourite Feature Of This Design?

J: My favourite feature is the character design. We have always appreciated Russian Avant-garde design and with a project of this scale, we had a near-endless pool of possibilities to explore and incorporate. 

G: Me too. It was a wonderful opportunity to take this design movement that changed the course of architectural history and integrate it with the 21st Century through the terminal’s use of digital media.

What Was Your Inspiration For The Design?

G: It might seem like an obvious answer, but Russia was our inspiration. Often, airport terminals feel like they could be anywhere in the world. We wanted to emphasise the grandeur of Russian culture and Russian people. We knew we had the opportunity to showcase Russia’s art history and that was very important to us both.

What Is The Key To Good Terminal Design?

G: There is no single answer to this question, there are so many moving parts in the design without which it wouldn’t operate in the same way. The simple answer, however, would be that good terminal design focuses on the passenger. We aren’t interested in providing service that is merely adequate, we want to try and provide more and create an opportunity for passengers to appreciate and enjoy the airport experience. 

J: I’d agree, and only add that focusing on passenger experience means that we need to put as much thought into the retail spaces and interactive digital media as we do the basic functions of the space. We don’t know why every passenger is travelling, so we want to try and accommodate as many of their needs as possible.

How Does Airport Design Differ From Other Sectors?

J: The biggest difference in designing airports as opposed to any other project is that there are so many more parties involved in the design process. When we discuss functionality, we need to consider that airlines need to check-in bags and passengers, passengers need to eat and relax and might have forgotten travel essentials, security need to ensure the safety of passengers, flight crews and airport employees, and customs agents need to be able to work according to the laws of their government. Each party needs their own space to operate, while also needing to collaborate. 

The joy of working with such large open spaces like airport projects is that you have the ability to use your imagination and spend time working out the most efficient use of the space. When we were working on this project all the parties involved made themselves available for consultation throughout the process, enabling us to understand the individual needs of every group.

G: Of course we should also add that airports are quite technologically demanding. When you are processing as many passengers as Sheremetyevo does, a huge amount of data needs processing to enable the airport to run with efficiency. I can’t think of another project right now that has the same sorts of demands when it comes to technological integrations.

How Did The Opening Of The Terminal Go?

G: It was brilliant.

J: It was quite an emotional moment to see all that hard work come to fruition and the opportunity to welcome the first passengers through the terminal was very special.

G: We were also really impressed with the organisation of the opening ceremony. They made such an effort to use the correct terminology in line with the design which helped enhance the experience for everyone present because they really got to understand the building from our perspective as designers. 

What Has Your Experience of Working With MASH (Sheremetyevo Airport) and TPS Been Like?

G: We have a lot of respect for these clients and they have given us so much support, right from the start all the way through to the opening ceremony. They have been demanding in exactly the way they should be, every meeting we had, every email and call resulted in the project being improved. 

J: We were incredibly touched to have been acknowledged with an Award of Appreciation at the opening, and I think it really reflects the sort of clients that MASH and TPS are. The project was hard work for all and we want to thank them for their dedication and support.