Architects collaborate to design stunning concept for a new airport for the Maldives
This second-placed competition entry for a new international airport embraces Maldivian culture and the natural setting through preservation of the island’s coastline and in the selection of natural materials. Whilst the airside facilities and runway are located on the island, the terminal building is located within the lagoon, connected via a sweeping bridge.
The client called for a new airport that would open up the northern Maldivian atolls to tourism, whilst was in keeping with the beautiful natural environment. Natural forms have provided inspiration for the architecture, with the primary move being a sweeping, undulating roof that makes a dramatic statement and creates a sense of arrival for visitors. The roof, formed as a timber diagrid structure is juxtaposed with a simple glass enclosure, which provides uninterrupted views of the lagoon and island. In plan, all visitor and staff facilities are located centrally to free up the perimeter for seating and circulation.
With the internal environment, in terms of architectural treatment, natural lighting and passenger well-being was felt to be as important as the arrival and departure sequence, from seaplane through to plane. North facing roof apertures provide suitable lighting conditions whilst minimise solar gain. The timber diagrid is complimented by a lighter timber soffit to reflect natural light and tie in with the timber flooring, which is installed throughout the terminal building and the external spaces. Unlike many airports throughout the world, this proposal seeks to improve the visual and physical connections between inside and outside spaces, providing generous space for relaxation and dining; allowing one to enjoy the island’s beauty to the last possible minute!
The terminal employs several passive design measures, from north facing rooflights and large roof overhangs to minimise solar gain, to rainwater harvesting and roof mounted photovoltaics.