Architects attempt to give public waiting areas an identity of their own, even though they are normally closed-in spaces. Railway stations and airports are examples of spaces of this kind: places where people stop and wait, but never actually stay. The design of public buildings of this kind is based on intermediation between the attempt to create a style that is visually pleasing and the ability to ensure mobility of people and vehicles.
Inside these constructions, many of which have been designed by great masters of contemporary architecture, are large areas with floor and wall coverings featuring clearly marked routes, flanked by retail facilities that give people something to do while waiting. It is important to list the features required of the flooring when preparing the guidelines for the internal layout of public buildings. Two macro-groups of features are required: technical and aesthetic.
Technical qualities required of a surface include easy installation and replacement, safe non-slip surfaces, the availability of a wide range of sizes and colours, and use of long-lasting material that is easy to keep clean: all features typical of porcelain. The second group, aesthetic qualities, requires the marble, stone or porcelain used for flooring to be pleasing to look at, usable in combination with other materials, identifiable with a particular brand or concept of place, malleable so that its form will suit different areas, and capable of blending in even while staying easily recognisable, so that it does not dominate the entire structure. Once again, these are features typical of porcelain. At this point it is easy to put two and two together and identify porcelain tiles as the best possible choice for floor and wall coverings in public places of transit.
The size of the surface the porcelain is to cover in an airport or railway station must also be taken into consideration. Flooring for large areas such as plazas and long corridors, both architectural elements which are normally enriched with a variety of retail facilities, demands porcelain tiles offering uniform aesthetic qualities such as colour and texture to unify the space and guide people towards exits or departure gates. At the same time, their technical qualities must be capable of withstanding wear, preventing falls and appearing clean at all times. Ariostea meets these requirements with the products in its catalogue, and has several references of public infrastructure projects behind it.
Toronto Airport in Canada, Birmingham Airport and London’s Heathrow Airport are just a few examples. The platforms of the high-speed railway stations in Naples and Mestre near Venice and the Movicentro Station in Tortona are examples of railway station projects. All these projects are particularly difficult and require an appropriate response to the needs of public buildings of this kind, with a number of porcelain products from the catalogue to respond to both technical and aesthetic requirements. The materials used on the railway station platforms are High-Tech Natural Stones, offering an ability to blend into their surroundings, a non-slip surface and a discrete appearance, while Texas and Houston from the Tecnoporcelain collection meet all the specific requirements of airports. A collection of floor tiles resistant to wear and available in colours suitable for covering large surfaces, rarefying them with its granitic texture made up of solid grains of colour that break up the monotony of large expanses of floor surface.