- Photographs: Hufton+Crow
Text description provided by the architects. Gibraltar Airport’s uniquely situated new terminal building is modern, dynamic, transparent and airy. Designed by bblur architecture with 3DReid and NACO, it is a world class facility which has created opportunities for flights from Spain and the rest of Europe to Gibraltar.
A unique and complex location
The new terminal is the first building visitors will see when they enter Gibraltar by air, road or on foot and is located immediately at the frontier, with the Rock as a backdrop. Sited within an extraordinary and spectacular landscape, it is bound by very tight constraints on all sides with the frontier with Spain to the North, the existing airport runway to the South, Winston Churchill Avenue to the West and tapering land with RAF restrictions to the East. The building is 2-storeys high and covers 19,600sqm.
A refined and elegant design solution
With over 20 years experience in aviation the design team approached this commission with consideration and empathy, and created an important public space both around and inside the terminal. A large over-sailing roof, providing shade and shelter to the fully glazed walls which maximise views to the Rock and across the straits toward Africa and the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, reflects the terminal’s aviation function and maritime location.
The forecourt creates a new landscaped park providing a generous welcome to Gibraltar and the airport and an identifiable ‘place’ at the frontier, a place to meet and greet whether on a local or extended journey. There are double height spaces within the terminal and an extensive airside roof terrace, designed as an extension to the departures lounge. The terminal which operates over two levels with an area of 19,600sqm has a primary check in and arrivals concourse at ground floor on the West side of the terminal. The terminal was also designed to accommodate entry and exit of passengers directly at the frontier.
The Airport’s airside areas have also been reconfigured to provide 5 aircraft stands and a new airside facilities building.
Key design attributes
- Takes advantage of fantastic views over the airfield towards the rock
- Dramatic roof overhang and solar shading create a building which is architecturally significant and environmentally sensitive
- The use of glazing achieves transparency between the interior and exterior, allows the terminal to be predominantly naturally lit and provides extensive views out of the terminal
- The fifth elevation (roof) very important as seen from the rock – use of roof lights which are laid out to visually guide passengers through some of the more internal routes. The roof lights generate subtle animation of the space throughout the day from throwing disks of diffused sunlight onto the floor to capturing the blue glow in the early evening.
Energy efficiency has been a key consideration. The design incorporates a large roof overhang to provide a high level of solar shading which maintains a cool environment. High performance double glazing and automated roller blinds contribute to enhanced energy performance.
Certain features of the design result from the building’s proximity to the sea. In addition to the need for close attention to detailing and specifications for external elements because of the corrosive marine environment, there was also concern about maintaining the appearance of the glazing, not just from salt-saturated air but also wind-borne sand and dust particles. The design solution includes a special external cleansing system that intermittently rinses the façades to eliminate accumulated material. The de-ionised water used in the system further improves the effectiveness of the rinsing process.
Buro Happold’s Fire Engineering developed a holistic fire safety design that integrates a combination of passive and active fire safety measures, along with management measures to combine to give a simple but robust fire strategy for the building. This provides several benefits: offering life safety protection to the large numbers of passengers and staff using the terminal, containing fire and smoke to limited areas, and reducing operational disruption in the event of an incident.
Team definition and roles
Daniel Bérubé and Matthew Bedward led the 3DReid design team from concept to planning scheme design until they left to form bblur architecture in 2008. bblur architecture and 3DReid agreed to collaborate throughout the design development and delivery phases of the project with Daniel Bérubé leading the project as concept guardian and lead designer working with 3DReid and the contractor to deliver the Terminal and associated infrastructure. This was to ensure that Dragados S.A., the Spanish contractor who was awarded the design-build contract of the Terminal and associated infrastructure works, remained faithful to the original design intent.
During the course of the project delivery bblur architecture was also commissioned to design the interiors of the terminal, and to redesign the terminal forecourt and adjacent public realm with Spacehub. In addition to the main terminal building, bblur architecture and 3DReid have designed the Park & Ride facility, a 6 level multi-storey car park, on the opposite side of runway.