Art is the manifestation of cultural richness of a region, and airports are the gateway to a country, region or city. With unique arrival and departure experiences, the travelers can connect with the local region and its community. And rightly so, in an attempt to enhance the travelers’ overall experience, Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (SVPIA) is creating a sense of place, i.e., a unique combination of artful characteristics designed to connect passengers to the airport as well as its distinctive geographic location and culture. In other words, today’s travelers seek for an intimate feel, a local flavour and a desirable experience that promotes the emotional connection and the airport has done it proportionately.
Art interventions in the existing Ahmedabad’s SVPIA are like ‘Culture Quotes’. An existing space, functional in its nature, adhering to the necessity of being an infrastructure facility, one can only imagine how far the idea of any ‘art’ experience at an airport may be. But it is only in that unexpected space that an ‘element of surprise’ may bring to a passenger, an altered experience to remember!
SVPIA’s existing space is suffused with branding, signages, lights and more lights where day and night know no difference, but art placements of various textiles, painted wooden trunks or hangings have brought in a layer of aesthetics which contrasts and draws the viewer in and connects with the inner creative spirit. Instead of shades and colours of a digital screen, the travelers can now experience the arts and crafts displayed at the airport and enjoy natural dyes and hues which embellish the colourful woodworks and textiles.
On arrival at T1, as one alights and walks through the arrival corridor, 6 Vaishnav Dwarpals, male guardian figures which guard and protect the sacred precincts of the temples from benevolent forces, stand tall expressing the same effect on Arrival. At T2, intricately carved panels in series welcomes one and gives a glimpse into the fine craftsmanship in woodwork which Gujarat has to offer. As one approaches the baggage belt area in T1, a wooden arch exhibits a design typically followed by the craftsmen during 18th–19th century in Gujarat havelis and mosques. This slender pilaster painted in sea green colour has a stone base with lateral extensions at the back and decorated with floral carvings. A bench placed by its side, invites one and all to take a pause and click pictures to document for a memorable experience.
At T1 Departures, all the available walls are replete with the textile stories, especially from Kutch region of Gujarat. Torana, bridal dowry cloth, prayer mat to bullock/camel saddle cloth and horn decorations are all hand embroidered with various stitches in colourful threads give a very ultra-modern look to each piece. The vibrant colours, patterns and intricate and fine craftsmanship in these embroidered textiles showcase in each piece the innate patient and sustained aesthetics of its maker and are the true examples of their vibrant, resilient approach to living life in beauty and creativity.
Along with these ‘Culture Quotes’ which gives a snapshot and essence of Gujarat culture through its artefacts, SVPIA is also a platform to showcase and give an opportunity to local Architect-designers to make art installation to celebrate the most popular festival of Ahmedabad, the Kite Festival. Probably the longest ever kite installation in Ahmedabad this year, welcoming the New year 2022 is the “Wave of Life” a fabric kite installation by Idea Factor (Niyati and Vishal) stretching over entire airport facade approx. 150 m long bringing life, movement and colour to its facade. Another concept installation by Tarang Sagra, a CEPT qualified designer, brings life to the arrival corridor with its ceiling suspended installation “Patterns of Gujarat”- a series of discs in various Gujarat fabrics bringing to viewer’s awareness of how Ahmedabad was also a textile capital for a long time.
Forces like design, art, traditions blend perfect together to weave a story at SVPIA, making time stand still. With “Art/culture quotes” at the airport, the passenger (read: viewer) steps into another realm, even if it is for a moment or part of their small journey to their destination.
So, land here or take off from Ahmedabad, a walk around Ahmedabad’s SVPIA showcases a harmonious blend of culture, heritage and modernity suiting the contemporary needs enmeshed in the architecture. As the city boasts of vibrant, colourful and rich culture, the design and art at this airport is meant to depict the essence of Gujarati culture and ethos. The work of art and sculptures installed in the terminal buildings make the travelers’ visit to the airport an aesthetically pleasing one. The USP of Ahmedabad International Airport’s design is focused on the theme of an emerging Ahmedabad and a growing Gujarat deeply soaked in rich culture and heritage.