Queen Alia International Airport / Foster + Partners

  • 25 Mar 2013
  • Featured Infrastructure Selected Works
© Nigel Young /

Architects: Foster + Partners
Location: , Jordan
Collaborating Architect: Maisam – Dar Al-Omran JV
Year: 2013
Photographs: Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

Design + Build Main Contractor: Joannou & Paraskevaides (Overseas) Ltd, J&P-AVAX S.A.
Structural Engineer: Buro Happold
Quantity Surveyor: David Langdon
M+E Engineer: Buro Happold
Landscape Architect: Dar Al-Handasah
Lighting Engineer: World of Lights
Additional Consultants: NACO, ADPi, Zuhair Fayez Partnership, Rahe Kraft
Client: Airport International Group, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Ministry of Trans, Joannou & Paraskevaides (Overseas) Ltd, J&P-AVAX S.A., Airport International Group P.S.C.


The airport has a highly efficient passive design, which has been inspired by local traditions, and is based on a flexible modular solution that allows for future expansion – the new building secures the city’s position as the main hub for the Levant region and allows the airport to grow by 6 per cent per annum for the next twenty-five years, increasing capacity from 3.5 million to 12 million passengers per annum by 2030.

© Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

In response to Amman’s climate, where summer temperatures vary markedly between day and night time, the building is constructed largely from concrete, the high thermal mass of the material providing passive environmental control. The tessellated roof canopy comprises a series of shallow concrete domes, which extend to shade the facades – each dome provided a modular unit for construction. The domes branch out from the supporting columns like the leaves of a desert palm and daylight floods the concourse through split beams at the column junctions. Echoing the veins of a leaf, a geometric pattern based on traditional Islamic forms is applied to each exposed soffit. The complex geometry of the roof shells and fabrication strategy was developed in conjunction with Foster + Partners in-house geometry specialists.

© Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

Two piers of departure gates run along either side of the central building, which contains the main processing areas and shops, lounges and restaurants. Between these volumes, open-air courtyards – a feature of vernacular architecture in the region – contribute to the terminal’s environmental strategy: the plants and trees help to filter pollution and pre-condition the air before it is drawn into the air handling system and reflecting pools bounce indirect natural light into the airport.

© Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

The terminal is glazed on all sides to allow views of the aircraft on the apron and to aid orientation. Horizontal louvres shade the facades from direct sunlight – to eliminate glare, the louvres become concentrated in more exposed areas close to the columns. The concrete structure incorporates local gravel to reduce maintenance requirements and the embodied energy of the material, and to harmonise with the natural shades of local sand.

© Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

Amman is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world – the airport’s design resonates with a sense of place and local architecture, particularly in the domed roof, which from the air echoes the black flowing fabric of a Bedouin tent. There are also references to the Jordanian tradition of hospitality – in celebration of the custom for family groups to congregate at the airport, the forecourt has been enlarged to create a landscaped plaza with seating, shaded by trees, where people can gather to bid farewell or welcome returning travellers.

© Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

Mouzhan Majidi, Chief Executive, Foster + Partners:

“Queen Alia International Airport has been an extraordinary project – it has transformed Amman into a niche hub, while offering critical growth for the wider economy through regional links. The new terminal building is energy efficient, will accommodate phased expansion and provides a dynamic symbol for Jordan. Our early involvement from the conceptual design stage, supporting the selection of operators, and through detailed design and work on site has involved many of our specialist in-house teams, from architects to climate analysts, space planners and geometry specialists. It has been a pleasure to work with our Jordanian colleagues and the team at AIG, and it is great to see the results of this work come to life today”

Level 01 Floor Plan

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Queen Alia International Airport / Foster + Partners" 25 Mar 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=349464>
  • shadi ossaili

    it’s a very nice project , well done !

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  • Richard Peck

    Very cool. Attuned to its locale. A billowing desert tent

  • Ben

    Amazing project! Congratulations Norman Foster

  • Salah

    mmm looks good :) but layout is very similar to Kuwait international Airport and Beijing Airport,,
    But I think Beijing is the best.Thank you

  • jprati

    Beautiful project. Definitely see the Saarinen inspiration here. I think I would only like it more if the concrete could have been whiter, and possibly an oculus at the top of each dome.