One of this centuries greatest architects, Lord Norman Foster, the brainchild behind revolutionary airport designs such as London Stansted, Hong Kong International Airport and Beijing’s new airport, has teamed up with architect Fernando Romero, FR-EE (Fernando Romero Enterprise) and NACO (NetherlandsAirport Consultants) to design Mexico City’s new international airport.
“At 555,000 square metres, it will be one of the world’s largest airports. Conceived with Foster + Partners engineering team, the project revolutionises airport design – the entire terminal is enclosed within a continuous lightweight gridshell, embracing walls and roof in a single, flowing form, evocative of flight.” state Foster + Partners in their latest press statement.
And what a roof. The most revolutionary part of this structure, is that it contains very few columns to support a never ending fretwork of celling panels, creating a fluid and breathtaking form, making the airport more of a destination that the journey itself. Not only is this a beautiful and awe-inspiring structure, it has merits to be proud of that go beyond the aesthetic.
“Designed to be the world’s most sustainable airport, the compact single terminal uses less materials and energy than a cluster of buildings. The design ensures short walking distances and few level changes, it is easy to navigate, and passengers will not have to use internal trains or underground tunnels – it is a celebration of space and light. Flexible in operation, its design anticipates the predicted increase in passenger numbers to 2028 and beyond, and its development will be the catalyst for the regeneration of the surrounding area. The airport is planned on a new site with three runways, and an expansion plan up to 2062 with an eventual six runways.”
The stunning and elegant must-watch video showcases the space, how it can best be utilised, and how it will in effect be centre stage for Mexico, with the project bringing thousands of jobs, and potential for millions of tourists into the region, making the airport an efficient hub alternative for tightly packed and archaic airports in the US. There are limitations to the use of the airport as a hub, due to the incredibly high nature of the airport (some 7,000ft in height) meaning airlines have to consider performance out of this behemoth of a city. That said, the airport is designed for expansion, with a twin terminal eventually being built next to the primary terminal, with its own runway construction, meaning easier traffic management of taxiing aircraft.
The airport itself is built by numbers. The new construction will be created by utilising spans in excess of 100 metres, three times the span of a conventional airport, inspired by the monumental size of traditional Mexican architecture and symbolism. The maximum span internally is a phenomenal 170 metres. But this isn’t just showmanship, it was a solution to Mexico City’s challenging soil conditions. The lightweight glass and steel structure and soaring vaulted roof are unique by being created using a pre-fabricated system allowing rapid construction without the need for scaffolding. The airport will be a showcase for Mexican innovation, built by Mexican contractors and engineers.
Lord Foster speaks further about the project, “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.”
Mexico City New International Airport Statistics
Building work commences in 2015
It will stand 45 metres high at its highest point, featuring up to 4 levels.
It will feature 5,000 parking bays for passengers at the airport
The terminal will be created using composite deck slabs and steel columns internally and a steel gridshell, externally.
The terminal will cover approximately 470,000 square metres.
We love this terminal, and certainly has Lord Fosters design stamp. The spaces he create are increasingly beautiful, intelligent and responsive to an ever changing passenger experience. And secretly, we are most excited about the air-bridges, which have finally been considered as an integral part of an airports design. We hope these beautiful and considered additions remain in the final construction.