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Landing success at Caucasus crossroads

Sian
Thursday 24 Nov 2011

Georgia goes Dutch as UNStudio design new Kutaisi Airport


Georgia, nestled amongst a number of recently democratised, formerly Soviet, Caucasian States, is a little nation steeped in a rich and engaging past. This seemingly alluring amenity is beginning to draw in an increasingly prominent and diverse stream of tourism, a trend that the Government is willing to financially accommodate. Plans for a radically refurbished Transfer Terminal and Air Traffic Control Tower, conceptualised by Netherland’s architectural company UNStudio, will aim to significantly ease the burden of increased demand from desiring airlines. Set amidst the landscape of Kutaisi, new home for the Georgian parliament, the journey of transition into a modernising nation was formerly attended, as President Mikheil Saakashvili began demolitions at the retiring airport infrastructure.

Beginning the process of enamouring travellers to the Georgian past and present, the new Kutaisi airport seamlessly incorporates into its design elements of standard regional practice. With the role of the ‘entrance lobby’ playing a pivotal role in traditional household concepts, deemed a predominant portrayal of the owner’s identity, UNStudio have eagerly incorporated local inspiration. This architectural concept, and the notion of Georgia as an international crossroads, have both been heavily imbued into the structuring of this sleekly efficient gateway, as the steady ebb and flow of travellers are directed onwards.

Hoping to guarantee the oft-sought qualities of efficiency and security, yet in a refreshingly unique way, has lead to a concerted effort to maximise ease of passage throughout these 4000 sq m pavilion terminals. Allowing an encasing, protective, core for departing passengers to linger, an external counter-flow has been transparently devised to prevent any clashing of cases and to afford a stress-free experience. As project leader Ben van Berkel explains, considerations of the individual were imperative to considerations: "The design for the new terminal in Kutaisi focuses first and foremost on the experience of the traveller by creating an inviting, safe, transparent and user-friendly airport. The desire to provide for and communicate equally with both international visitors and the local community is paramount. "

Adding an underlying attraction of sustainability, various features have been added to lessen the venture’s potential impact on the environment. Capping into underground water resources, swelled by a grey-water collection system, most buildings will utilise this H2O quarry to help maintain a regulated temperature. Meanwhile, the striking cantilevered roofs offer shade to those seeking refuge from the sun’s rays; further potential exists in the undecided consideration of installing large areas of PV-cells to ease electrical burden.

Finally, complimenting the main airport complex will be a 55m high, 300 sq m, Air Traffic Control Tower. Intended to be fully in-sync with the overall design, an unusual lighting system transforms this sophisticated structure into a beacon. Clad in a transparent skin, different colours are displayed to reflect the fluctuations in airborne traffic.

Tom Aston
Editorial

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