Reducing visual clutter by 50% at Schiphol’s New Pier

Appointed by AECOM for Schiphol, Europe’s third-largest airport, we helped reduce visual clutter by over 50% through our new wayfinding design and developed a new set of design guidelines for all future projects.

See glimpses of CCD’s intuitive wayfinding scheme in this video about Schiphol’s new pier.

Image Credit: Cepezed Architects

Image Credit: Schiphol

The brief

Schiphol is Europe’s third largest airport with 64 million passengers passing through annually.  There were several key elements to the brief.

Firstly, a review of all aspects of wayfinding for the new Pier, development of a new strategy and accompanying design solution within the framework of the existing Schiphol DNA.

In addition to the sign design, a set of guidelines needed to be created to future-proof the consistency of the system. The existing design language was innovated and evolved into a standard design that met the requirements of the new Pier.

The challenge

The new pier is over 55,000 square metres in size, which is equal to eleven football pitches, and twice the size of Pier B. Such a significant project poses just as significant challenges.

An extensive review took place working within Cepezed’s detailed BIM model to access site lines, scale and sign positioning. To accommodate such a wide range of passengers, we drew on our human behaviour expertise to understand passenger movement, pain points to develop an intuitive wayfinding scheme.

Architecturally, the new Pier has adopted the concept of an ‘open pier’ – an open layout and floor to ceiling glazing to enable passengers to see when the boarding process starts. Opening sight lines encourages a more relaxed mentality – you can see your destination from a far greater distance which removes a level of anxiety.

The approach has been to combine architecture, interiors & wayfinding to create a collective design solution that feels like it belongs in the airport. The result is a wayfinding system that reduces visual clutter by removing 50% of the typical suspended signs that you would see to demark gate numbers. We replaced these with large-scale integrated gate numbers. Using a 3D alpha-numerical system, we added dynamic lighting that changes colour when the boarding gate opens. The lighting remains consistent throughout the gate environment, including the gate desk.

Setting a new benchmark: Schiphol’s new pier

Significant emphasis has been placed on biophilia, with trees, flowers and plants featuring, and its green credentials include the use of reusable plastic, marble rubblework tiles and 5,000 square metres of solar panels, flush the toilets using rainwater, and much of the floor is made of bamboo.   The new pier has 8 new gates – 5 for smaller aircraft on the northern side, and three for large aircraft on the southern side.

The new Pier is due to be completed by the end of 2019.