Impactful Entry Space: Virgin Lounge

In this Impactful Entry Space blog series, we will feature a designer or artist that has created an attention-grabbing design for the main lobby space of a building. Drawing inspiration from completed entry spaces around the world, we travel beyond the image by diving into the design process and concepts behind it.

Today, we feature our interview with Tim Greer of Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects about the lobby design of Virgin Lounge in Melbourne, Australia.


GPI Design: What did the lobby space mean to the building as a whole?

Tim Greer: The lobby acts an important transition between the somewhat hectic airport concourse and the calm Virgin Lounge. The foyer and lounge aim to bring a sense of glamour back to air travel, with Virgin Australia repositioning itself from a budget carrier to a customer oriented airline. Although the lounge is not visible from the lobby, the aesthetic qualities of the lounge are evident in the foyer.


GPI: What were your functional and conceptual goals for the lobby?

Greer: The functional goals are to reduce customer anxiety by quickly orientating customers, in order to put them in control, and to provide them with easy access to flight information, whether by digital screens or lounge staff. The lobby has an important symbolic quality, which is part of the overall Virgin branding. The aesthetic values of the lobby are also found in the lounge and plane interior, with the ceiling motif used for decoration on the fabric of the seats, advertising and marketing material. The lounge has an aspirational quality, whereby non-customers walking past in the concourse, see a soothing, beautiful and pleasant environment, which encourages them to fly Virgin on their next trip.


GPI: How did you use specific design tools (such as colour, form, materiality, lighting) to create the space?

Greer: The ceiling, which is the most dominant surface of any interior, has been designed as a ‘net’, whereby the recesses between the ceiling panels conceal the myriad of services. These recesses also contain the concealed lighting, which evenly illuminates the space and appear like ‘rivers of light’ leading customers through the space. The custom designed furniture follows this geometry to enhance the seamless transitions between the different zones in the lounge. The floor is laid with natural stone for warmth and texture; the walls are lined in white color back glass, setting up subtle reflections, with spotted gum timber trim defining edges and corners. The ceiling is predominantly white acoustic plasterboard; with spotted gum timber panels signifying customer service points in the lounge. The overall experience is light and white, stemming from the branding objectives of calmness and expansiveness.

GPI: What was the biggest constraint in turning the design into reality?

Greer: The lounge had to remain in operation during construction, so all design elements had to be thought of sequentially. This led to developing the design as a series of components.


GPI: What makes the space impactful?

Greer: Airports can be perceived as a place of movement – place, luggage and people. The organic geometry allows guests to guide from one space to another, avoiding the clumsiness and confusion of travel.


Many thanks to Tim for sharing the design inspiration for this space. Stay tuned to our next Impactful Entry Space interview coming up in two weeks. For more visual inspiration, follow our Impactful Entry Space board on Pinterest.

Image credits: Brett Boardman via Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects