Sydney Airport welcomes an increasing number of passengers through its international terminal each year, and with that comes more and more passengers travelling with companion animals. As part of Sydney Airport’s commitment to providing a comfortable and inclusive experience for passengers and employees, it engaged DesignInc to design a Companion Relief Area inside Terminal 1. Catering for working dogs and emotional support animals, the facility helps provide a more stress-free experience for animals and their humans.

The Companion Relief Area is located at the airside Arrivals area in Terminal 1 International where it is secure, convenient, accessible and identifiable with prominent signage. The 306-square-metre space includes an assistance-animal toilet and watering facilities, a bathroom with full-size change tables and hoists to assist people with disabilities, and a parents’ room.

DesignInc researched animal relief areas in international airports and took inspiration from the facilities at JFK Airport in New York. With seven animal relief areas, it is one of the most pet-friendly airports in North America. “Universal design is paramount to enable acclimation for all, plus we wanted to create something new to the region,” says DesignInc Senior Interior Architect Violetta Boyd.

As there are no legislative building standards in Australia for animal relief areas, DesignInc worked closely with the building certifier and Sydney Airport team to design a hygienic space that supported the needs and comfort of animals and their humans. As such the Companion Relief Area is wheelchair-accessible and contains an artificial turf area, wash-down facility for the turf, disposal bin and water bowl for service animals and working dogs.

All products and materials are fit-for-purpose, antibacterial and anti-microbial to meet strict hygiene requirements and eliminate opportunities for cross contamination. The perforated artificial turf with drainage replicates a natural grass setting intended to entice animals to do their business, and wall-mounted poop bags and hose make it easy to clean up after. There is also a glove dispenser and wash basin nearby.

A doggy bubbler is unique feature to Sydney Airport’s Companion Relief Area. “A water bowl can potentially harbour bacteria. In our search for appropriate product we discovered the doggy bubbler, which was the final piece of the puzzle,” Violetta says.

The Companion Relief Area meets Sydney Airport’s design standards for its new bathroom amenities with high-quality and appealing finishes. Clear signage marks the Companion Relief Area, and a translucent, glazed automated entry door provides easy accessibility. The gloss wall tiles and slip-resistant floor tiles are consistent with the design of all Sydney Airport’s newest bathrooms.

The DesignInc team loves the diversity of people we design for and the opportunity to improve their daily experience. It is gratifying to add working dogs and assistance animals to that list as they bring support and joy to their humans, helping to make their lives that much easier.