Designing delight in new Dakar airport: as well as hoping to become a transport hub, Senegal's new airport will showcase the country's culture to international travellers.

Author:Dalby, Alexa

First impressions are important. A country's international airport is its gateway to the rest of the world. Of course it must function efficiently, but increasingly new airports are used to reflect local culture, history and landscape.

Research by the National University of Malaysia's Graduate Business School found a positive correlation between "airport image" and "passenger delight", which was strengthened by "incorporating elements of national identity into the design".

So there is a museum of Korean culture in Incheon airport. A feng shui expert advised on the planning of Beijing's airport. And Singapore's new Changi airport will create a public space for both local residents and passengers with a 40-metre waterfall and indoor forest under a glass dome.

Senegal's new airport, due to open in October, follows the trend. Blaise Diagne airport is named after a former mayor of Dakar, the first black African elected to the French Chamber of Deputies and to hold a position in government. The airport covers 42,000 square metres, is nearly 50km outside Dakar and was constructed at a reported cost of $650m.

The intention is to make Dakar an international aviation hub for Africa and to increase tourism to Senegal. The huge new airport will handle 3m passengers a year--twice the capacity of Dakar's existing Leopold Senghor airport.

Whilst externally, the airport's design is contemporary international', the interior of its Main Terminal is designed to be positively Senegalese. Its fitting out is currently in progress, led by the interior design and procurement specialists Areen Aviation.

According to Clive Naylor, Head of Special Projects at the company, "the client asked us to reflect the colours of the landscape in the building." Areen Aviation's concept was to introduce subtle tones into the finishing...

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