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Human Factors & Ergonomics
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Schiphol

Reducing visual clutter by 50% at Schiphol’s New Pier

Services: Human Factors & Ergonomics, Wayfinding Design, Customer Insight

Appointed by AECOM for Schiphol, Europe’s third-largest airport, we helped reduce visual clutter by over 50% through our new wayfinding design and developed a new set of design guidelines for all future projects.

Our Task

Schiphol is Europe’s third largest airport with 64 million passengers passing through annually. There were several key elements to the brief. Firstly, a review of all aspects of wayfinding for the new Pier, development of a new strategy and accompanying design solution within the framework of the existing Schiphol DNA. In addition to the sign design, a set of guidelines needed to be created to future-proof the consistency of the system. The existing design language was innovated and evolved into a standard design that met the requirements of the new Pier.

An image of a presentation page the Mima team used to give a technical design update. This page focuses on boarding gate signage height, font and lighting.

Our Solution

An extensive review took place working within Cepezed’s detailed BIM model to access site lines, scale and sign positioning. To accommodate such a wide range of passengers, we drew on our human behaviour expertise to understand passenger movement, pain points to develop an intuitive wayfinding scheme. Our approach combined architecture, interiors & wayfinding to create a collective design solution that feels like it belongs in the airport. The result is a wayfinding system that reduces visual clutter by removing 50% of the typical suspended signs that you would see to demark gate numbers. We replaced these with large-scale integrated gate numbers. Using a 3D alpha-numerical system, we added dynamic lighting that changes colour when the boarding gate opens. The lighting remains consistent throughout the gate environment, including the gate desk.

A generated image in grey tones, of an airport environment. The outline of a male passenger pulling luggage behind him is in the forefront of the image. In pink text, he asks several questions to himself, including 'Do I need a boarding pass?' and 'Where is my gate?'
A generated image in grey tones, of an airport environment. Airport signage contrasts in yellow. The outline of two passengers, one with high heels and the other with a hat and a walking stick, are at the forefront of the image. In pink text, they ask several questions to themselves, including 'Where is Transfers?' and 'Is this the right way?'

The brief

Schiphol is Europe’s third largest airport with 64 million passengers passing through annually. There were several key elements to the brief.

Firstly, a review of all aspects of wayfinding for the new Pier, development of a new strategy and accompanying design solution within the framework of the existing Schiphol DNA.

In addition to the sign design, a set of guidelines needed to be created to future-proof the consistency of the system. The existing design language was innovated and evolved into a standard design that met the requirements of the new Pier.

The challenge

The new pier is over 55,000 square metres in size, which is equal to eleven football pitches, and twice the size of Pier B. Such a significant project poses just as significant challenges.

An extensive review took place working within Cepezed’s detailed BIM model to access site lines, scale and sign positioning. To accommodate such a wide range of passengers, we drew on our human behaviour expertise to understand passenger movement, pain points to develop an intuitive wayfinding scheme.

Architecturally, the new Pier has adopted the concept of an ‘open pier’ – an open layout and floor to ceiling glazing to enable passengers to see when the boarding process starts. Opening sight lines encourages a more relaxed mentality – you can see your destination from a far greater distance which removes a level of anxiety.

The approach has been to combine architecture, interiors & wayfinding to create a collective design solution that feels like it belongs in the airport. The result is a wayfinding system that reduces visual clutter by removing 50% of the typical suspended signs that you would see to demark gate numbers. We replaced these with large-scale integrated gate numbers. Using a 3D alpha-numerical system, we added dynamic lighting that changes colour when the boarding gate opens. The lighting remains consistent throughout the gate environment, including the gate desk.

Setting a new benchmark: Schiphol’s new pier

Significant emphasis has been placed on biophilia, with trees, flowers and plants featuring, and its green credentials include the use of reusable plastic, marble rubblework tiles and 5,000 square metres of solar panels, flush the toilets using rainwater, and much of the floor is made of bamboo. The new pier has 8 new gates – 5 for smaller aircraft on the northern side, and three for large aircraft on the southern side.

The new Pier is due to be completed by the end of 2019.