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International allure - a Dutch interior architect in Russia

M + R interior architecture designed a number of spectacular lounges for Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, for which inspiration was found in themes such as constructivism and Russian culture and nature.

One of the first airport lounges that M + R designed was the Privium Club lounge at Schiphol, completed in 2008, which received a lot of international attention and appreciation and was even chosen by TV channel Arte as one of the ten most beautiful design bars in the world. Partly as a result of this lounge, M + R was asked in 2015 to participate in an international competition for a lounge at Sheremetyevo International Airport, the largest of the three airports in Moscow, with a total of six terminals.


There had to be an upgrade for three lounges, two large and one small. M + R was selected for the small one - the Matroesjka Lounge - according to Hans Maréchal: "Sheremetyevo VIP chooses agencies of international renown, including the German AS + P and the English JPA design." Before accepting the assignment, Maréchal won first the necessary information about working in Russia. An acquaintance who has experience with this stated, among other things, that he had to wonder what risk he would take. “We therefore stated that we would work according to the De Nieuwe Regeling (DNR) legal relationship, and that was no problem at all. We were even paid before we put the first line on paper. "Then a VO was made and the client was immediately very enthusiastic:" We love it. "Then the DO was worked out and in one afternoon everything was discussed with the contractor and client.

Then it was quiet for a while, and just as Maréchal wondered how the lounge would be, he received photos of the end result and M + R was immediately asked to participate in the competition for one of the lounges to be built in a new one large terminal for domestic and international flights, which had to be ready for the 2018 World Cup. The competition involved a VIP and two business lounges, M + R won the order for a business lounge, the largest of the three. "We were given the assignment even before we had made a VO," says Maréchal, "so very differently than in the Netherlands where they broke down a bit in terms of rules and procedures." asked for the VIP Lounge.


The briefing for the business lounge - the Rublev Lounge - was concise. Among other things, it stated that the lounge had to meet the international standards of Skytraxx for airport lounges; these concern, for example, bedrooms, smoking and meeting rooms, and the number of seats. "Comparable to the star standard for hotels," says Maréchal, "and they say a lot about the desired quality." In addition, the client wanted a lounge of international allure. "Russians are a proud people with a lot of love for their own country, but they also want confirmation from the outside world."

The business lounge is a hall of over 2,600 m2, but according to Maréchal the schedule of requirements was too large for the available space. He therefore suggested creating an extra floor through a mezzanine. To divide the large space, M + R designed three sculptural elements based on Russian constructivism, the 'concept anchor' of the design. The structure goes back to the Tatlin Tower; the Monument to the Third International by artist Vladimir Tatlin, one of the founders of constructivism. The shape of the elements is derived from the onion-shaped domes of the towers of traditional Russian Orthodox churches. The elements are not only true eye catchers, they also create different zones in the lounge. There are a total of 460 seats for working, eating or relaxing - each offering plenty of space and privacy. In addition, there is a lot of openness, because Maréchal states: “The 'look at me now content' is also important, seeing and being seen. manufactured food counter, which at 34 meters is the longest in the world has been verified by Guinness World of Records.


northern Lights

A second concept anchor is the northern light that comes back in the round light elements with daylight domes in the ceiling. Dynamic lighting has been installed in the elements, which changes color and intensity during the day and thus always creates a warm atmosphere. Maréchal had originally planned green light, with green matching carpets. “But Aeroflot is the largest user, and green is the color of the competition. That is why Aeroflot - blue has now been used. ”The carpets specially designed with floral motif are also blue, and contrast nicely with the white terrazzo floor. The undulating ceiling of the lounge is finished with wooden slats, which are arranged one by one with a platform. Part of the walls is covered with solid oak-wood discs, which refer to the way in which onion domes are often covered. This contains LED lighting that forms a beautiful starry sky in the evening. The total of 7500 disks have also been applied manually. Elsewhere, too, sustainable and natural materials were used, such as white and blue Russian marble, obtained within a radius of 100 km around Sheremetyevo. The signposting designed by M + R is in copper color and has since become the standard for all lounges on Sheremetyevo. As with the Matrushka Lounge, M + R was not directly involved in the implementation of the project, and here too Maréchal received the photos over time. "When I saw this, the tears shot me in the eyes - they had it almost exactly made the way we wanted it. When do you get such a chance in the Netherlands to present your vision and then you don't have to worry about it, and then it suddenly stands at 95 percent? Here are endless meetings during the design and construction process and the process sometimes seems more important than the result. "

Light fountain

The VIP Lounge - for both departing and arriving travelers - is in the same terminal as the Rublev Lounge, but a lot smaller. It is therefore intended for the 'happy few': there is, for example, a supply route for limousines and a considerable amount has to be paid for the use. “Everything here revolves around pure luxury,” says Maréchal, “and you are completely taken care of.” The natural elements of earth, air, water and fire form the basis of the interior design and reflect the diversity of Russian nature. There are beautiful wavy walls that refer to sand caves. The walls are made of oiled solid wood and separate the service areas from the visitor area. There is a meeting room behind a wall in the same design language; Maréchal wanted real glass for this wall, but it is made of Perspex, which makes it white instead of the intended green. “According to Sergey Ryabchikov, after testing on site, the glass turned out to be too susceptible to damage. Furthermore, the lounge is almost entirely in accordance with the DO and everything has been adjusted in consultation, the client was very respectful with us. ”Natural materials, however, predominate, such as wooden ceilings, a floor, bar and reception desk of white Russian marble and, to top it all, a spectacular light fountain of Murano glass. There are comfortable seats on a high-quality carpet around the fountain, and there are seats between half-height upholstered walls that offer more privacy. There is also a children's room, an armory for hunters who travel and even two extremely luxurious hotel suites.


The Rublev and VIP Lounge were also very much appreciated by the client: "The owner even finds the Rublev Lounge the most beautiful in the airport," says Maréchal. However, it was not just a matter of appreciation: in the meantime, in an extension of the terminal, two more lounges on Sheremetyevo, designed by M + R, will be realized - the Chagall and the Malevich Lounge, which will be delivered at the beginning of 2020. The concept theme for the Chagall business lounge (with 382 seats) is 'Russian elegance' and here too Russian nature plays an important role. The interior features curved walls and ceilings that are made up of various layers that appear to be worn in. "Just like the Volga layers in the earth wears out," says Maréchal. The layers are independently formed, creating a beautiful spectacle of lines and waves. The seating groups come up on elevations, like islands in random places in the river. The lounge is segmented into color groups, in a number of places Chagall paintings are placed as glass mosaics on columns and behind the reception there is a large stained glass object - Chagall was also a large glass artist.

Finally, the Malevich lounge - named after painter Kasimir Malevich, also a founder of constructivism - becomes even larger than the Rublev Lounge and comes to the end of a pier, where you have a view of the airport all around. The floor plan of the lounge is based on a painting by Malevich, eye-catchers here include the walls made entirely of travertine.
Sheremetyevo International Airport continues to expand and a third phase expansion of the terminal is planned. Maréchal: "We may also be able to design lounges for that. We know the client better and better and mutual trust has grown. We also know better and better what the possibilities and limitations are and we do not have to enter into discussions about, for example, the type of chairs. As a result, the designs are also getting better. " Interiors of airport lounges are perfectly suited to Maréchal. M + R has extensive experience in designing spaces such as theater foyers and hotel lobbies, "an airport lounge is in fact like a large hotel lobby. It's all about hospitality - it's about atmosphere, experience and well-being for an international audience of people who have little to do with each other, but have the same goal - whether it is a journey or a performance. "


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