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SHH’s Branding Process when Creating the Deluxe Airport Lounge for Rizon Jet

Architecture/interior practice and branding design consultancy, SHH, has finished the design of a £3m, 2-storey VIP passenger lounge at Biggin Hill airport, for client Rizon Jet. This is how they established a deluxe design with the company's brand in mind.

The brief from the client to SHH was to create “a six star hotel reception” with a comfortable lounge feel. “It was all about creating a space that people want to spend time in”, says SHH Project Architect and Associate Guy Matheson. “This was achieved through a simple and calm colour palette; luxurious finishes; a high proportion of bespoke furniture and a strong emphasis on comfort. The main space is a dramatic double height volume, which is split into interesting, zoned lounges with different treatments and with a variety of privacy levels, so that customers can immediately find the right space for their need state, whilst retaining glimpsed views of everything else going on in the facility.”

Rizon Jet was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Doha, State of Qatar, with additional operating bases strategically located in the Middle East (UAE) and Europe (UK). The company's mission is to deliver top quality services that combine traditional Arabic hospitality with world-renowned aviation standards.

“The two new Rizon Jet Lounges and FBO-VIP Terminals in the UK and Doha began with a similar outline concept”, says Guy Matheson, “but SHH were then commissioned in August 2010 to interpret and develop this concept to create a more European feel for the Biggin Hill Lounge, which nonetheless retains many Arabic references in both material choice and functionality, to reflect the Qatari heritage of the company, the linked locations and similar passenger profile at the two terminals. The starting point for our design concept was the Rizon Jet branding and ‘star’ marque, which was interpreted and applied in a variety of ways and at different scales throughout the interior.”

With the opening of the new VIP Lounge, Rizon Jet now has a full range of services to offer today’s discerning traveller. Patrick Enz, Chief Executive of Rizon Jet, comments: “We are very excited to see the start of operations at the beautiful FBO/VIP Lounge, which has been built and completed under the supervision of SHH. The design of the lounge reflects in a modern way the corporate design and heritage of the Qatari company. The opening of the Lounge marks a major milestone for Rizon Jet.”

Entry is directly into the double-height space, with planes instantly visible. If customers wish to fast-track straight to departure, an ‘expressway’ path is clearly marked out by a panel of ‘Emperador Light’ marble flooring, leading to the departure gate, where usual British customs, security and passport services apply.

Huge-scale lighting, in the form of hand-made crystal pendant lights specially made for the scheme in the Czech Republic, also lines the route, created in a fretwork pattern based on the Rizon Jet identity, which continues beyond the security wall and up to the runway ribbon, giving customers a sense of the full depth of the space.

“The lighting scheme for the project, created by SHH together with Deltalight, is all about control”, explains Guy Matheson. “We have combined cold cathode lighting in the ceiling rafts with down lighting, along with individual floor and table lamps, so that there is complete inbuilt flexibility and the possibility of very gentle and intimate lighting in the later hours.”

“All M&E and audio-visual elements have been carefully incorporated with no visible workings", comments Guy Matheson, "so as not to disturb the clean lines and sleek look of the space. There are no speakers or grilles on view and we have made full use of architectural detailing to ensure these workings are kept from view. In each lounge, for example, bespoke joinery items such as consoles or coffee tables contain Crestron touch panels and concealed wiring in order to control lighting and AV.”

The ground floor lounge space instantly communicates an atmosphere of richness and structural drama, firstly through a full-height living wall, with foliage set into colour patterns, to the right of the entrance area (created by ANS Group), set to self-water automatically to ensure a uniform look and easy maintenance and framed by a cold cathode surround.

The ground floor’s third and fourth lounges are circular in shape, identical in look, although differentiated from the other lounges by sunken banquette seating two steps down.

Lounges five and six directly overlook the ground floor space, kept semi-visible through a sloping, fabric-laminated glass wall (using an off-white textured and rippled fabric) created by Sekon Glassworks, with the star from the Rizon Jet corporate identity sandblasted onto the glass at huge scale.

SHH were careful to vary both the size of the graphic references to the logo with each use and to vary its material application to ensure both variety and scale. Seating in lounges five and six features sofas in dark brown leather with a gold fabric seat and wingback armchairs.

The prayer room faces Mecca and has been designed with low-level walnut plinths and a dragged Armourcoat wall finish. Opposite the prayer room, a fretwork panelled wall overlooks the lounge, with natural light coming in along the bottom and with mirrored panelling at the top, concealing storage.

The mezzanine level offers passengers greater levels of privacy, but with the same design ideas throughout so that the spaces stay connected. “We had the Arabic customer demographic particularly in mind on this floor”, explained SHH Senior Designer Emlyn Conlon, “where the cultural requirement for privacy is greater than in Europe. Here, customers can be served food and drink a little more discreetly or can wait in any of three additional lounges, which also cater for children – or can else use the business centre or prayer room. The entire floor can also be booked out for any single user group in advance.”

Beyond lounges three and four, the toilet and washroom area is discreetly announced by a wraparound wall with a silk wall covering. Design features here include bespoke console units and a mirror in each area in black, scalloped lacquer from Ecco Trading.

The business area includes a full conference room for up to twelve people with video conferencing and tea-point facilities. A sandblasted glass sliding wall delineates a separate office space, whilst the front of the combined business area features a curving glass wall (again using the star design in large scale), with grey voiles discreetly giving a feeling of privacy for the two spaces.

Photography is by Andy Spain

Full SHH Project Team: Guy Matheson, Emlyn Conlon and Wade Tangney.
Consultant Team:
Client Representative: Urban Velvet
Main Contractor: Knight Harwood
M&E: ME7
Structural Engineering: Price & Meyers
Cost Control: Lawrence Foote & Partners
Project Facilitator: GVA Second London Wall
Mechanical Contractor: JCA
Electrical Contractor: FES
Lighting Supplier: Delta light
Audio-Visual: Tillman Domotics
Metalwork: Littlehampton Welding
Stonemason: Unique Surfaces

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