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Responsive Airport Programming

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How might we improve the air travel experience with more flexible, responsive spaces?


Responsive Airport :: Reprogrammable Terminal Space

Harvard GSD Research Seminar :: Responsive Environments :: Spring 2019

Instructors :: Allen Sayegh, Stefano Andreani

This short study tested ways that, given data on program type demands, certain spaces in the terminal could switch between program as retail, waiting area, and food service space. Moveable partitions help reconfigure these spaces, and flexible and robotic furniture allows them to better take on different functions  over the course of the week. 

Because of its piecemeal development process, western airport infrastructure has problems with travelers navigating complex and unfamiliar environments that often lack space to accomodate full traveler loads. As air travel journalist Patrick Sisson describes, “The long lifespan of many US airports, and the wide acceptance of flight as a regular mode of travel, has turned formerly glamorous airports into overloaded, everyday infrastructure that wasn’t meant to handle the increasing number of passengers, bags, and flights required by the growth of modern aviation. The response, more often than not, has been a patchwork of expansions and additions.” Some designers, however, are considering new sensor-based, adaptive programming technologies to retrofit these undersized and unnavigable airports with flexible, re-programmable space and new AR navigation tools. This project speculates on the way airports could soon leverage these technologies to create reprogrammable spaces that better accommodate traveler program loading. 

Assuming a near-future scenario where these types of navigational tools become ubiquitous in airports, operators will have access to large amounts of real-time information on how activity types and space demands change over the course of a day. Airports designed with multifunctional, adaptive, and responsive spaces could flexibly reprogram over the course of a day in response to this data, creating a smoother and more enjoyable air terminal experience.


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