Gagarin International Airport in Saratov, Russia was built from scratch in an open field and put into operation in September 2019 featuring а permanent interactive exhibition.The client initiated the project to provide a superb passenger experience: amusing, educating and entertaining passengers while they’re waiting for flights. Seven installations trigger all senses and create truly immersive experience—any visitor becomes an explorer prepared to take a flight just like Gagarin did.
It was the Saratov region where Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, learned how to pilot a plane and where he landed after the very first space flight on April, 12 1961. Thus, Gagarin is considered to be either a global and local hero for the citizens of the Saratov region. The interactives and displays explain the link to the locale and highlights Gagarin’s role in the broader context of world space exploration. The installations are distributed along passenger's route and integrated into the interiors without disturbing the flow. The design of multimedia and analog pieces pays tribute to the graphics of the1950-60s, but rethink its shapes, colors and techniques.
A huge screen welcomes visitors at the atrium of the main foyer. Its vibrant abstract animated content depicts slow meditative movement of space bodies, explores the nuances of light and scales, and introduces the idea of a "man in space" as a lonely dreamer and a fearless explorer.
The digital exposition in Gagarin Airport is devoted to the projects of the future connected to space exploration—some of them were utopian, some proved real, some preceded or foreseen Gagarin’s flight, others were derived from it. On the 30-meter expo table travelers review how ideas of space flights and spaceships first came in the minds and projects of the elite group of thinkers and avant-garde artists now known as retro-futurists who influenced popular culture.
Another installation uses AR combined with face-tracking technology to give passengers an opportunity to virtually “try on” a space suit and have a spacewalk. Travelers can email their selfies in the outer space to anyone from the inbuilt terminal.
The corridors leading to the plane are the culmination of the immersive experience. Passengers walk through five archways with running transcripts and recordings of the conversation Yuri Gagarin and space engineer Sergey Korolev were having prior to the launch and until Gagarin went off the radar.
Digital art and interactives can elicit a strong emotional experience, especially for people who aren't expecting it at the airport. With the Gagarin project the design team tells the story of the Saratov region in the global context and awakens people’s pride of place.
The team was proud to bring a sense of romance, excitement back into air travel—the sensations it lost as flights became routine. The narrative reveals how those 108-minutes affected the way people all over the world dreamt, fantasied and related to the earth, the universe, and the future.
“The concept, purpose, and execution is spectacular from the inside out. It’s clear that the design team kept its users in mind, as every design element—thorough curation of Gagarin’s journey, details of the chat on LED-panels, educational interactive quiz panels—has done its job to make the experience of being at an airport exciting, pleasant, and educational.”
“What made this so intriguing was the sheer breadth of content and technique, without ever running the risk of feeling disparate. The large-format media were successful in attracting passing guests to the multiple experiences, and there were activities to appeal to all ages while remaining intuitive.”
"A work of outstanding quality, integrating digital experience in the airport’s public space within a single narrative about Yuri Gagarin and the experience of space. The project’s scope, complexity and diversity of media and technologies surprise one with a single complex approach, creating a uniform artistic ensemble, which not only relates the story of the space hero, but also opens up a broader narrative about the world of space dreamers and futurists and prompt one to be aware of and appreciate the significance of a specific local place within the development of space research."
Arseny Kryukov (general producer); Ivan Nefedkin (creative director); Evgeniy Pererva (executive producer); Alexander Abramov (art director); Sergey Voronov (concept artist); Rodion Raspopov (supervisor); Ivan Makarov, Anna Nefedkina (graphic designers); Maksim Grebenschikov, Konstantin Goran, Elen Elkiev (motion designers and artists); Dominica Harrison, Mario Radev (animators); Ilya Derzaev (programmer); Alexander Zaripov (sound designer)
Nata Tatunashvili, Alina Kvirkveliya (architecture and exposition design); Kirill Svetlyakov (art curator)
Andrey Chetverikov (engineering director), Evgeny Maltsev (technical integration), Kirill Petrovsky (decorator)