ofRafael Viñoly Architects has completed its first ever airport terminal which is to open next month in Viñoly’s home country. Carrasco International Airport in Montevideo, Uruguay is the largest of the architect's projects in Uruguay and will expand the airport in a bid to spur commercial growth and tourism.
Beneath the spectacular 1,200 ft long roof, which offers a softness to the otherwise monolithic structure, the design gives particular prominence and care to public zones and amenities offering abundant space and natural light. Light enters via a visor-like glazed airside facade, which peers out from under the gently down-turned roof. The flowing lines and undulation are reminiscent of Uruguayan landscape providing a fitting entry point to the country.
Details within the architecture provide further notions of space. Arriving travellers, for example, pass through a fully glazed mezzanine level that helps orient them to the terminal space before they descend to immigration, the baggage claim, and customs. A public, landscaped terrace and a restaurant occupy the second floor, providing sweeping views of the runway and the main concourse.
Inside the building, arrivals and departures are separated vertically: arrivals on the ground floor, and departures on the first floor, with vehicular access roads for passenger drop-off and pick-up servicing each level independently. An open atrium adjacent to the street entrance opens the ground floor to the monumental space of the main hall, visually and spatially linking the beginning and ending stages of a traveller’s journey. The roof provides a canopy over these access roads on the land-side of the building.
In keeping with a long tradition of grand transportation halls, the departures level is one large space. With glazing on all four sides and thin structural supports, the roof appears to float above the building. The departures level features the public concourse and the secure passenger concourse; each is separated by the security checkpoint and immigration control at the center of the plan. After completing check-in and security procedures, departing travelers have access to duty-free shopping and restaurants in the waiting areas. Four fixed, elevated pedestrian bridges with articulating corridors, accommodating a total of eight passenger gates, connect the passenger concourse to narrow- and wide-body aircraft and provide access to the apron for smaller planes.
“In Uruguay, friends and family still come to greet you at the airport or see you off,” says Rafael Viñoly, “so this terminal provides great spaces for the people who aren’t travelling as well as those who are. The atrium, the main hall, the terrace, and the passenger concourse make this a dramatic and welcoming place for everyone.”