The Georgian city of Kutaisi, west of the capital Tbilisi, recently opened a key new addition to its infrastructure network: Kutaisi International Airport. Designed by UNStudio with local architects Studio ARCI and Arup as Airport Planners, the airport was both designed and constructed within a two-year window.
Targeted primarily at low-cost airlines, Kutaisi International Airport is able to process up to one million travellers each year with 40 international and domestic flights expected each week in 2014. It has been designed with UNStudio’s characteristic aesthetic flair, sporting a vivid splash of red on the façade and an arresting ‘umbrella’ across the ceiling of the main terminal building.
These two main architectural elements define the bulk of the aviation facility, with the scarlet corner detail acting as a point of recognition for those passengers less familiar with the airport layout and the ‘umbrella’ inside acting as a roundabout for passenger flows.
As Ben van Berkel explains: “The design for the new airport embraces the traveller by embodying the circumstance of the site. Moments of both leaving and returning are celebrated by the large span, open spaces and high ceiling of the terminal structure - reflecting the ways in which such gestures were employed in the great railway stations of the past.”
Aside from the main terminal building, the scheme also includes a masterplan for future planned development and landscaping, offices for onsite staff, a meteorological station, air traffic control tower and the revision of the existing runway.
The design of the air traffic control tower incorporates a perforated skin and concrete core with LED lights sandwiched between. This creates a dynamic result whereby changes in wind speed alter the colour of the tower’s exterior, making it an active beacon for approaching and departing aeroplanes. This 55m-high tower can accommodate 8 operators and provides 360° sightlines for optimum viewing.