How to Design
Characteristics of modern terminals
2- Stansted Airport, Essex (Arch: Foster & Partners). Elevation of apron area
The 2lst-century terminal differs from first generation airport buildings in three major ways:
Greatly diversified range of facilities, especially in the retail, conference and leisure fields m More attention paid to the quality of the passenger experience, particularly with regard to legibility, orientation and the creation of tranquil spaces
Design which accepts the inevitability of internal change and external growth These three factors have become defining elements of second generation terminals. They reflect changing priorities within the airport industry, especially the need for individual airport authorities to meet global standards of excellence in order to survive competitive pressures. Airport authorities now compete internationally for their share of the air-transportation market and increasingly recognise that the standard of terminal design is a measure consumers use in their choice of airports.
1- Two key interactions upon terminal
A typical international airport consists of six major physical elements and up to a dozen secondary ones. The major elements are:
Runway taxiing areas etc.
Air trarffic control centre.
Car parks and road system.
Freight depot and warehouse areas.
Hangars and aircraft service areas In addition, there are many secondary elements which can form substantial parts of the airport estate, such as:
Green space and planted areas
Mature airports (such as Chicago’s O’Hare or Amsterdam’s Schipol) consist of a well-integrated amalgam of major and minor elements sometimes built as a dense collection of closely connected structures. Others have the range of facilities in more widely spaced structures, as at Heathrow where they are joined by an underground railway system and at Gatwick where an above-ground shuttle links the two terminals.
Integration and ease of connection is the key to a successful airport from the passenger point of view. This is particularity true of the means of reaching the airport - whether by car, bus or train. The circulating road system of a typical airport, or the underground railway, tends to disorientate the passenger and is frequently overcrowded. Routes need to be clearly articulated, with buildings and landscaping providing the means by which a sense of direction is established. The progression from car seat to plane seat is necessarily complex (for reasons of security and control) but the experience should not be excessively complicated or at any point unpleasant. Good airport layout and building design should seek to remove ambiguity, to reduce travel length, to maintain a sense of progression towards the destination; and should wherever possible uplift the spirit. Psychological needs are as important as physical ones.
Two clear but divergent perceptions exist - that of the airport authority which wishes to maximize profit, and that of the passenger who wants stress- free travel. Good design consists of reconciling these viewpoints.
3- Charles de Gaulle Airport, France (Arch: Paul Andrew). Plan of Terminal 2 with railway station
In the layout of the airport the determining factor is normally the orientation and length of the runways (see 4). These are shaped mostly by the direction of the prevailing wind, the size of aircraft to be handled, and external factors such as the position of towns, mountain ranges and power lines. Normally the airport masterplan is prepared by civil engineers working with land-use planners and environmental consultants. Increasingly, environmental impact analysis determines the key elements of the airport plan, especially the resolution of noise, ecological and visual impacts.
4- Diagrammatic layouts of relationship between terminal, runway and road
As an understanding of the complexities of airport development has grown there has occurred a better balance between infrastructure planning and land utilisation. Most airports today have integrated transport systems which cater for passenger as well as staff needs. This not only serves the airport well but allows for the development of land for non-air transport purposes. Many airports today have extensive warehouse areas at their edge and business parks in the towns nearby. Airport masterplanning and regional development plans need to be well integrated if the full potential of the airport as an investment magnet is to be realised.
the full potential of the airport as an investment magnet is to be realised. Normally architects are appointed after the airport masterplan has been prepared. The task then is one of designing the buildings whose footprint has already been established. However, good urban design is essential if infrastructure planning and building design are to be effectively bridged.
In any airport the terminal building is the key structure physically and aesthetically. Although air traffic control towers may provide welcome points of vertical punctuation, it is the terminal which waymarks the airport and establishes a sense of architectural quality (see 5). Like a small city, the terminal is the airport’s town hall - the place where everybody is encouraged to enter. To fulfil this role the terminal should be the dominant building, with other structures such as hotels and car parks having a secondary role. The visual ensemble of the airport environment needs to be legible, thereby avoiding the necessity for signs. The hierarchy of airport structures for the passenger (terminal, station, car park) is quite different to that perceived by the airport authority (runway, boarding gate, terminal).
5- Zurich Airport, Switzerland (Arch: Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners)
Good design allows the terminal building and other structures to be identified immediately for what they are. The role of architectural form is to give meaning to the various buildings. The question of airport character is communicated by reference to aeronautical metaphors or to high technology (e.g. Stuttgart Airport - see 7 and 9), though there is a trend towards giving airport buildings more of a regional architectural flavour in the belief that terminals are gateways to countries.
7- Stuttgart Airport, Germany (Arch: Von Gerkan, Marg & Partners)
9- Stuttgart Airport, Germany (Arch: Von Gerkan, Marg & Partners)