KPF's designs for new international airport terminal in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi International Airport Midfield Complex is integral to the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan - transforming the desert into the ‘Garden of the Gulf’ through a design that responds to its natural environment, while meeting the needs of the rapidly expanding capital.
Addressing the brief, the X-shape of the terminal provides the greatest programmatic efficiencies, minimising walking distances and maximising aircraft parking facilities as well as enabling the terminal to extend from 39 to 49 gates and ultimately process around 50 million travellers each year.
Conceived as a gateway to the city, the Terminal building is identified on the skyline - raised up from the road level giving the appearance of sitting on its own plateau – with a profile silhouetted against the sky. Its undulating form is, in part, created by the roof of the piers along the X ‘pulled down’ on the facade protecting the building and its habitats from the sun. At night the building’s illuminated interior creates a transparent structure which is visible from the highway over 1,500 metres away.
On approaching the Terminal Building the roadway system and landscaping work together to create a sequence of events culminating in a monumental civic space inside the terminal. Internally the scale of the Departure Hall - a 50-metre high space rendered largely column-free through the use of long span leaning arches - endows the building with an open, outdoor quality, with the supporting arches visually separated from the roof to enhance the lightweight feel. The civic nature of the central space, the heart of the X-shaped complex, is complemented by retail and food outlets, a programme of public art including a gallery space, and a secluded garden.
Guided by the project’s environmental objectives, the building also includes a number of measures including the reduction in the use of potable water by using dry climate landscaping and the efficient use of natural daylighting supplemented with low energy lighting.