Intuitive Navigation in Airports: The Greenfield Airport, Rajkot (India)

November 26, 2021, 02:50 pm IST

As an increasing number of passengers are flying each year airports need to ensure passengers can navigate easily and efficiently through the terminal. This is a challenge as airports must deal with a range of users, from passengers who fly regularly, to passengers who fly very occasionally, to those who have never flown before. A number of researchers have identified that passengers can have difficulty navigating through airport terminals which can result in a less than optimal airport experience. Terminal navigation and appearance is the most important factor for increasing passenger satisfaction and in prior research way finding was noted as one of the primary concerns affecting passenger satisfaction at a terminal.Design has the power to simplify, to help guide us without overwhelming us. Ensuring all passengers can navigate to the processing activities intuitively is important for passengers, airports and airlines



Rajkot Greenfield Airport is a new airport in the Hirasar district 36 km north east of the city centre. Developed to alleviate congestion at the existing airport, Rajkot Greenfield airport will be a major transport hub for the region with the world’s fastest-growing demand for national / international travel and is fully integrated within the country’s expanding transport network.Initially serving 0.5 million passengers per year, Rajkot Greenfield’s will accommodate 2.3 million travellers by 2030 and is planned for further expansion to serve up to 12.3 million passengers annually. Rajkot Greenfield’s 30,000m2 passenger terminal and local services, providing a catalyst for economic and cultural development in the 4th largest city of Gujarat.Assigned to match the level of service “B” as per IATA recommendations in initial years & finally to match level of service "C" in year of saturation. Rajkot Greenfield’s sets a new standard in air transport services, serving the region’s growing population within a compact and efficient passenger terminal that is adaptable and sustainable for future growth. 

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The Intuitive approach

Echoing the principles of way finding within architecture that organise interconnected spaces in a linear manner, the terminal’s design guides all passengers intuitively and seamlessly through the relevant departure, arrival or transfer zones towards the aircraft.For a passenger navigating through the airport, there are a range of visual elements present in the airport environment. These visual elements can include structures (for example check-in desks and security screening structures), information (for example directional signs) and spaces (for example pathways or entrances)

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In addition, the passenger will navigate through the airport with other passengers and visitors present, as well as airport and airline staff. In a passenger survey by Churchill, Dada, de Barros, and Wirasinghe (2008), it was found that most people identified signage as the main element used to find their way through the terminal, while others responded that they had used nothing at all. While signage may be one of the important visual elements used, it is important to note that there are a number of potential causes of navigation difficulty, including the building design, internal layout, internal design, number of decision points, length of the corridors, number of level changes, and length of the chosen path.


The Built form Inspiration

The places cultural vibrancy has inspired the design of the terminal building. It would depict various art forms from lippan art to dandiya through its dynamic external façade and splendid interiors. festival also known as Uttarayan which marks the onset of summer and beginning of harvesting seasons for Indian farmers

The design of the ten flowing forms at the terminal’s entry took inspiration from kite. The column modules would not be standalone elevations features, instead they would tell the story of Gujarat. Traditional elements like pointed arches, semi-circular arches and stone jalis are integrated into the façade elements.

A Nature inspired landscape approach

The design proposal for landscaping of Rajkot Airport has been done following the principle of creating a Green and pleasing, yet comfortable space for users, which is also contextually related to the geography of the site. A unique central pavilion has been designed as the central focus of the design scheme, which runs centrally across the landscaped site, symmetrically dividing it into two halves, interspersed with green spaces, plazas and pavilions. A combination of locally available plantation has been used along with water features and sculptures featuring local artwork across the plazas to create an aesthetically pleasant and refreshing environment.


Ar. Gurpreet Singh Shah lives and breathe airport design. He has a vast experience in designing terminals from Gabbon to Rajkot. He is principal at Creative group` and leads our Global and transportation practices, and you can contact him at


Design features

Information about the site’s environmental history and seasonality will be embedded within the proposed seating and walking surfaces.  A  combination  of  locally  available  plantation  has  been  used  along  with  water  features  and sculptures  featuring  local  artwork across  the  plazas  to  create  an  aesthetically  pleasant  and refreshing environment. Carefully selected plantings—including evergreens, perennials, and flowering shrubs celebrate the dynamic seasonality of the western climate, creating a garden that is responsive to changing seasons and natural light conditions

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