Close this search box.

Transport hub with a new shopping dimension

The Istanbul New Airport is set to become the largest of its kind worldwide. Its opening is planned for the end of 2018. Around 53,000 sq m of retail space will sweeten passengers’ stays there.

The Turkish metropolis of Istanbul is getting a new airport. But not just any airport: Its total cost amounts to over €10 billion. The transport hub is set to begin operation at the end of 2018 and will initially accommodate 90 million passengers a year. But the Istanbul New Airport is then supposed to blossom into the biggest in the world. 150 million passengers a year will be able to check in, thus dethroning the largest to date, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The dimensions of its retail space are nothing to be sneezed at, either: it will boast approximately 53,000 sq m. Gebrüder Heinemann and Unifree Dutyfree won the tender for the concession for a period of 25 years with the support of Interbrand. In close cooperation, they created a detailed offer for the future design of the terminal, including the interior design and the design concept for the total retail space. By winning the tender, Unifree Dutyfree will create more than 3,000 jobs. Investments amounting to approximately €120 million have been earmarked.

“Together with our Turkish partners, we are proud to be responsible for the retail and center management in the airside area of Istanbul New Airport in the future. The retail space of around 53,000 sq m is moving into completely new dimensions and will allow us to use unique and pioneering concepts. In addition to several thousand square meters of luxury boutiques, some of which will be sublet, it is our ultimate goal to fulfill all the wishes of passengers through this globally important airport in close cooperation with the operator IGA,” explained Claus Heinemann.

Tulip as a recurring theme

Interbrand accompanied the entire tendering process and the development of the offer documents for the marketing and service strategy, brand and interior design, and the retail concept, enhanced using high-end visualizations. Expert teams from Istanbul, London, Cologne, Hamburg, and Berlin created an offer for an impressive retail experience. “The biggest challenge was to create an overarching theme for the brand. All elements of the concept, like the strategy, design, and interior design were built on that theme. The theme is like a thread running through the whole concept,” said Hendrik Bruning, Creative Director at Interbrand Cologne.

As a metaphor for pluralism, trade, hospitality, and patriotism, the Ottoman tulip was chosen as the leitmotif that represents the Unifree brand. The tulip recurs as a theme throughout the offer and design concept and characterizes the airport as an open and inspiring host. It acts as a design model on various levels along the entire chain of experience, such as on the clothes of sales staff. Based on this idea, Interbrand developed a retail concept for the entire sales area of the airport, with luxury fashion boutiques, a bazaar with Turkish products, information areas, duty free shops, business areas, tasting booths, and lounges and catering areas.

The Bosporus and the seven hills of Istanbul

Two elements have heavily influenced the interior design and the floor plan with their characteristic landscapes: the Bosporus and the seven hills of Istanbul. The Bosphorus, Istanbul’s lifeline and pulsating aorta of the city, was the inspiration for walkways and visitor flows. It guides travelers to their gates and offers a multifaceted gastronomic offer and a unique shopping experience. Mario Schwary, architect and Associate Creative Director for 3D, Interbrand Central and Eastern Europe, explains: “The Bosporus has always played an important role for merchants and travelers from different cultures. It functions as a thoroughfare and market place.”

The seven hills of Istanbul characterize the landscape along the Bosphorus and the city skyline. They are reflected in the different levels and in the topographic appearance of the airport. The versatility of the retail segment generates an atmosphere that always offers variety to visitors, especially during extended stays at the airport. Extensive parks and water areas invite travelers to relax. On the upper floor, there are lounge areas, premium service, and hospitality at their best.

“The three elements – tulips, the Bosporus, and the seven hills of Istanbul – inspired us to an organic language of forms. Three highly visible towers stand out from the airport landscape and help customers orient themselves in the 750 x 135 m, 28 m high, main hall. The airport building was designed by architects from Grimshaw, which also includes the Norwegian company Nordic Office of Architecture and Studio Haptic in London,” adds Schwary.

Airport Istanbul. Image: Heinemann
Airport Istanbul. Image: Heinemann


About Gebrüder Heinemann, Unifree Dutyfree, and Interbrand

Gebrüder Heinemann is the only family-owned company among the global players in the duty-free industry. It specializes in international airports. Unifree Dutyfree is a leader in the Turkish Duty Free market. Heinemann holds 60.8% of shares in Unifree Dutyfree. With almost 40 offices in 27 countries, Interbrand, founded in 1974, is one of the worldwide leaders in brand consulting. It publishes an annual study called “Best Global Brands” and, based on that, the Best Global Green Brands report, which examines the discrepancy between customer perception and actual brand performance in terms of sustainability.


Subscribe to ACROSS Magazine

Across print & digital

Enjoy ACROSS – The European Placemaking Magazine on your desktop, tablet, or smartphone.

Latest Print Issue