We are continually impressed by the variety of projects from UNStudio’s office. The firm just unveiled a new vertical city highrise for Singapore previously featured on AD, and recently, the Dutch studio’s international air terminal and traffic control tower for Kutaisi was officially presented by Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia. The country is growing quickly and changing rapidly, with new tourist and economic activity, plus different political developments. As such, the design for the new airport seeks to showcase Georgia new identity by providing a contemporary gateway to the country. More about the airport after the break.
In recent years, Georgia has experienced a growing number of tourists interested in the country’s ancient history. Due to this new international interest, the addition of van Berkel’s air terminal will make Georgia more accessible. As the newly selected capital city, Kutaisi is the perfect site for the airport’s base; for the infrastructure can serve not only visitors, but also for international diplomats and national politicians. ”It was particularly exciting for me to be able to design an airport which is not only linked to the new seat of parliament in Kutaisi, but which also creates an entrance condition which functions as a port for the international community. The airport presents a symbolic infrastructural gateway to Georgia and, from there, to the rest of the world,” explained van Berkel.
The project includes the design of a 4,000 m2 terminal building, as well as a 55m high control tower. The terminal is organized around a central exterior space which is used for departing passengers. The terminal is zoned in a way to prevent any confusion between departing and arrival passengers, as their flows do not coincide. While the terminal provides optimal security, the design also provides a sense of openness as the space can operate as an art gallery, displaying works by Georgian artists and thereby presenting a further identifier of contemporary Georgian culture.
The control tower compliments the design of the terminal with its sleek form and gently curving lines. The exterior of the tower is a functional cladding as it will change color whenever there is a fluctuation in traffic. In this way, the tower will function as a light beacon to the sky for the international airport, but also from the road to and from Georgia’s new parliamentary city Kutaisi.
Ben van Berkel explained, “The design for the new airport embraces the traveller by embodying the circumstance of the site. Moments of both leaving and returning are celebrated by the large span, open spaces and high ceiling of the terminal structure – reflecting the ways in which such gestures were employed in the great railway stations of the past.” The airport will also feature sustainable practices that will, hopefully, be implemented into future projects in Georgia. For instance, water found onsite underground will help regulate the temperature of the buildings; the terminal’s cantilevered roof will provide sun shading and support PV cells; and, the terminal will be equipped with a grey water collection system. Construction has started and the airport will be complete by September of this year.
Client Terminal: United Airports of Georgia, LLC Client Air Traffic Control Tower and Offices: Sakaeronavigatsia LTD. Location: Kutaisi, Georgia Building Site: 11.000 m2 Program: International airport terminal, air traffic control tower and offices for navigation Status: Concept Design 2011, Construction 2012 Credits: UNStudio: Ben van Berkel, Gerard Loozekoot with Frans van Vuure and Filippo Lodi, Tina Kortmann, Roman Kristesiashvili, Gustav Fagerström, Wendy van der Knijff, Machiel Wafelbakker, Deepak Jawahar