Wednesday 17 Aug 2011


Architects and designers SHH have completed a luxurious £3m, 2-storey VIP passenger lounge at Biggin Hill airport, for client Rizon Jet, a Middle East and UK based private aviation group.

Located within a major new-build 130,000 sq m hangar and VIP terminal facility at the airport, the lounge, comprised of a 478 sq m ground floor space with an additional 186 sq m purpose-built mezzanine floor, was launched at the same time as a similar facility in Doha, State of Qatar (created by Doha-based company Art Line).

The Brief: The brief from the client to SHH was to create ‘a six star hotel reception' with a comfortable lounge feel. ‘It was all about creating a space that people want to spend time in', commented Guy Matheson. ‘This was achieved through a simple and calm colour palette; luxurious finishes; a high proportion of bespoke furniture and a strong emphasis on comfort. The main space is a dramatic double height volume, which is split into interesting, zoned lounges with different treatments and with a variety of privacy levels, so that customers can immediately find the right space for their need state, whilst retaining glimpsed views of everything else going on in the facility.'

Design Walk-through: Rizon Jet passengers arrive to be met by doormen in top hats and tails and a valet parking service. Entry is directly into the impressive double-height space, with planes instantly visible.

In front of the living wall, the greeter's desk front is in a finned sculptural wood pattern in walnut, designed by SHH and made by William Dulcie Ltd, repeated for the full-height feature wall directly ahead, which seems to alter in form as passengers approach.

The lounge is also almost entirely signage-free to ensure a luxury feel, with passenger direction and the explanation and clarification of services all part, instead, of the facilitator's role. Material quality is also announced through the marble flooring, in ‘Bottocini Fiorito Light' on either side of the ‘Emperador Light' central runway route (which also used in a darker version for the toilets to the centre right of the ground floor area).

To the left, a further major feature takes the form of a series of striking, full-height perforated columns in a distressed metal finish featuring the star motif from Rizon Jet's corporate identity and manufactured for the scheme by Seamless Industries.

Within the columns, ultra-comfortable seating takes the form of a single circular sofa with pale brown fabric seats and a dark brown fabric back with gold circles on a macasar ebony base, designed by Emlyn Conlon of SHH and manufactured by Lyndon Design. A bespoke wool and silk rug is in the centre of the lounge, also incorporating the star marque and also designed by Emlyn Conlon of SHH and manufactured by Tai Ping. The near-circle formed by the columns is completed by the addition of two armchairs fromBolier in a macasar ebony frame with cotton fabric upholstery in black.

A second semi-circular open lounge lies immediately beyond - the largest on this level - and with a ribbon flooring border, especially created for the project by Unique Surfaces, using water jet technology. The ceiling has rectangular lighting troughs cut into the ceiling and the room is furnished with a silk and wool hand-tufted rug once again a bespoke design by Emlyn Conlon of SHH, manufactured by Tai Ping and a mix of lounge and sofa seating from Bolier, interspersed with small side tables with a black chrome base and dark brown lacquer top (from Meridiani), along with twisted glass table lamps from Porta Romana and floor lamps from Natuzzi.

To the right, the ground floor's third and fourth lounges are again circular in shape, identical in look, although differentiated from the other lounges by sunken banquette. The mezzanine level offers passengers greater levels of privacy, where customers can be served food and drink or can wait in any of three additional lounges, which also cater for children.

The business area includes a full conference room for up to twelve people with video conferencing. The conference table is in walnut from Plan Mobil and the conference ‘Aston' chairs are by Arper. A sandblasted glass sliding wall delineates a separate office space, whilst the front of the combined business area features a curving glass wall, again using the star design, with grey voiles discreetly giving a feeling of privacy for the two spaces, which can be booked separately or together.

Toilets and washrooms are all in marble, whilst the prayer room has been designed with low-level walnut plinths and a dragged Armourcoat wall finish. Opposite the prayer room, a fretwork panelled wall overlooks the lounge, with natural light coming in along the bottom and with mirrored panelling at the top, concealing storage.