What is worse than waiting for a train, queuing for an ID card or registering for a medical visit? Doing all of this in a dull, characterless room. But hospitals, train stations and town halls don’t have to be boring. Increasingly, public spaces are starting to adapt to contemporary lifestyles and technologies to offer their visitors an enhanced experience. They are embracing design and contributing to the urban landscape, rather than detracting from it.

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01. BAKU AIRPORT – AZERBAIJAN

Baku is becoming a popular business and travel destination, so the Azerbaijani capital required a modern international terminal for its airport. Designed by the Turkish studio Autoban, the Heydar Aliyev terminal reflects local hospitality with custom-made wooden cocoons housing cafés, shops and other amenities. The architectural studio chose warm materials and natural light to differentiate the airport from others and make visiting it a welcoming and enjoyable experience — yet another airport redefining the layover.

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02. SIAM DISCOVERY DEPARTMENT STORE – THAILAND

The Japanese studio Nendo oversaw the refurbishment of the Thai shopping centre Siam Discovery in Bangkok. Tasked with creating a new shopping experience, Nendo divided the store into several lifestyle sections: Digital Lab, Street Lab, Creative Lab and Play Lab. When entering the main atrium, visitors encounter over 200 black and silver boxes extending over four floors. They contain video monitors, digital signage and merchandise displays that act as a directory of what’s happening in the store.

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03. MEDICAL CENTRE – KUWAIT

With the Hisham A. Alsager Cardiac Center in Kuwait, the international design firm AGi Architects wanted to evoke a social and cultural structure rather than a medical one. The designers were inspired by the anatomy of the heart. The atrium welcomes and distributes visitors just like blood cells, and connects several corridors and courtyards. Rehabilitation facilities include a swimming pool, a gym and a running track, with natural light radiating throughout the structure.

See more spaces HERE