Yesterday, a consortium led by Foster + Partners and Fernando Romero of FR-EE were announced as the winners of the competition for the design of Mexico City's new international airport. Designed in conjunction with a masterplan developed by Arup, the airport will initially include three runways, but is designed to expand to up to six runways by 2062, all served by the single terminal building.
One of the world's largest airport terminals at 555,000 square meters, the building is enclosed by a single, continuous lightweight gridshell, the largest of this type of structure ever built with spans reaching up to 170 meters.
By utilizing a single airport terminal, passengers will not need to travel on internal train services or underground tunnels, and the design of the building ensures shorter walking distances and few changes of level, all making for a more relaxing experience for users.
The building is designed to be the world's most sustainable airport, with the single lightweight shell using far less material than a cluster of buildings, and cooling and ventilation strategies that require little to no mechanical assistance for most of the year.
More details of the design after the break
The building will be serviced entirely from beneath, allowing the monumental space of the airport and the building's impressive structure to be fully experienced by users.
With the structure's spans in excess of 100 meters, the building is also more flexible than a conventional airport, accommodating all possible future changes in internal layout.
The use of the lightweight gridshell was also inspired by the "challenging soil conditions" at the site. The structure will be prefabricated and constructed rapidly, without scaffolding. As the most ambitious structure of its kind, it will be a showcase for the Mexican contractors and engineers that work on it.
The building enclosure will also perform a range of further functions, with the skin of the building providing rainwater collection, solar harvesting and shading, while directing daylight and enabling views.
In addition, the building will meet LEED Platinum standards, with the building envelope meeting high thermal and acoustic standards. The building will use displacement ventilation to maintain comfortable temperatures for most of the year with little to no additional heating or cooling required.
Lord Foster said:
“Stansted Airport’s reinvention of the conventional terminal in the 1990s was emulated worldwide – this breaks with that model for the first time. It pioneers a new concept for a large-span, single airport enclosure, which will achieve new levels of efficiency and flexibility – and it will be beautiful. The experience for passengers will be unique. Its design provides the most flexible enclosure possible to accommodate internal change and an increase in capacity.
Mexico has really seized the initiative in investing in its national airport, understanding its social and economic importance and planning for the future. There will be nothing else like it in the world.”