They’re rare. You don’t see them often—a quiet, complimentary space in a public realm. Yet, we subconsciously look for such places to meet for a quiet conversation, read the paper or to calm fluttering emotions. We regretfully acknowledge a world gone public where quiet privacy has become more valuable than ever and finding a retreat in that world, in the middle of a busy day, is the pearl that consumes the grit. And so—the need becomes obvious.
Not totally enclosed, but stepping back to retire from the push of a kinetic energy that urges “Faster, Faster, and Faster still!”. Retreat spaces have the effect of a leeward island. Shelter, intimacy, calm with an almost careless grace that forgives meticulous order—they will absorb the din and clatter of a large public space, foiling gratuitous noise to a soughing, easily ignored. Private little spaces invite and are difficult to pass, at least without a look at one’s watch and a rueful smile.
Moreover, a coalescence of these characteristics—shelter, intimacy, quiet and calm—can be built into large public spaces when a collection of familiar elements are arranged in a delightful motif, requiring perhaps a little more care than a potted palm.
Of course, Nature has given us the lesson and we know from research that trees and plants have the power to broadcast serenity—regardless of how they’re arranged. Accepting an opportunity to capitalize on their magic in a public space offers an experiment in contrast. Nothing like a busy airport to test the theory. For those who arrive early, or wait for arrivals, providing respite in a secluded area is a nice thing to do.
For them, a cache of Tree Ferns in stone pots—banking a stone bench that rests on a slate base—is off to the side of the beaten path. Inviting a private moment, it welcomes visitors to step out of the open landscape. Tree ferns thrive indoors, assuring a safe fit in this environment. Placing them in deep pots impedes their growth and saves from constant watering.
Contributing a bit of color to the oasis, delicate hanging pink ivy geranium is a good candidate here. Because they can grow in sphagnum moss, they can hang from the tree fern fronds without putting a weight strain on them. A quick dip in water once a week (well worth the time) and they will easily survive in the airport environment, particularly when windows are near.
Lastly, a cozy, private area isn’t complete without a light touch of vines to drape and grace, used in this case to camouflage the tree ferns’ rather stiff, columnar trunks.
The Theory Holds
Altogether, a charming medley to interrupt the concourse—unexpected and delightful—for travelers and those that greet them, who would no doubt appreciate several of these vignettes scattered about. A variety of voluminous interior public spaces will benefit from this treatment. Just a thought to let the imagination play with while walking down an airport concourse.