Vox Architects References Space Flight at the Gagarin Airport in Saratov, Russia

Nearly 60 years have passed since Yuri Gagarin became the first human being in space. Today, that historic voyage is honored at something else flight-oriented: Gagarin Airport in Saratov—the same Russian city in which the Soviet astro­naut landed in 1961 upon returning from his 108-minute orbit around the earth. It’s in that new airport that Vox Architects has unveiled a cosmically inspired VIP lounge. 

In the VIP lounge at Gagarin Airport, a custom play “capsule” upholstered in acrylic references Vostok 1, which transported Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin on the first-ever space flight. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.

Vox, a Moscow firm led by chief architect Boris Voskoboynikov and head of creative Maria Akhremenkova, had already completed other airports and lounges throughout the coun­try for the clients, SarAero-Invest JSC and Airports of Regions MC. For this project, how­ever, “We referenced the idea of defying gravity, waiting for a miracle,” Voskoboynikov explains. Although the word luxury never came up in briefings, Voskoboy­nikov says that he and Akhremenkova “strived to create an atmosphere of care and attention—there’s always an elec­trical socket and room for luggage.” 

Panels of gradient-printed glass line the corridor to the boarding gate. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.

That the lounge is 11,200 square feet across two floors helps provide the space needed for such amenities. The levels are connected by a circular floating staircase with an elevator in its core. Upstairs, the spaces are private, with meeting and conference rooms geared toward business travelers. The ground floor, where reception and the boarding gate are, is more open and social, offering a restaurant, bar, and children’s play area. Among the lounge’s themed elements are circular lamps resembling solar flares, cloudlike white-and-gray porcelain flooring, and pops of brilliant blue. “The color reminds us of a rocket shooting into the meso­sphere,” Akhremenkova notes. 

Ernesto Gismondi pendant fixtures in a meeting room evoke solar flares. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.

Acrylic in that shade is a component of one of the lounge’s more memorable moments. It lines the freestanding, spherical “capsule” modeled after Vostok 1, the spacecraft that carried Gagarin into the heavens, in a corner by the windows. Children are often found climbing aboard. “It passes on this amazing story to a new generation,” Akhremenkova adds. “My seven-year-old daughter took part in the advertising shoot and still recalls the capsule with delight”—a stamp of approval from a very important VIP.

Extra-long linear pendants by Bjarke Ingels Group run above a sectional sofa by UNStudio/Ben van Berkel in a sitting area. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.
In the bar area, PearsonLloyd stools stand on porcelain floor tile. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.
An elevator is contained in the stairwell’s core. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.
Acrylic-composite solid-surfacing forms the custom reception desk. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.
A relief of Gagarin enlivens a wall in the conference room. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.
The restroom corridor ends in a custom mural of printed ceramic. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.
Restrooms have wash-dry sink fittings by James Dyson. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.
The lounge spans two floors and 11,200 square feet. Photography by Sergey Ananiev.

Project Sources: Six Inch: Table (Capsule). Steklo Moda: Printed Glass (Hall). Arfa: Ceiling System. Artemide: Light Fixtures (Meeting Room), Pendant Fixtures (Conference Room). Cor: Chairs, Table. Walter Knoll: Stools (Bar), Sofa (Sitting Area). Vitra: Black Tables (Sitting Area), Small Mirror (Restroom). Arper: Chairs (Conference Room). Dyson: Sink Fittings (Restroom). Throughout: Hi-Macs: Solid-Surfacing. Smile: Custom Furniture. Laminam: Floor Tile. Artemide: Linear Pendant Fixtures. Project Line: General Contractor.

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