Barajas Airport Spain, Madrid

Currently, I am working on the airport CONRAC (Consolidated Rental Car Facility) project and my colleague have recommended to check out the Barajas Airport in Spain. I soon have been moved and inspired by the project of Richard Rogers and Estudio Lemela.

Terminal 4 is the one that captured my attention.

The Barajas Airport was constructed in 1927, opening in 1931. Terminal 4, designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers was built in 2006. It’s the one of the world’s largest airport terminals in terms of area with 8,180,572 SQ FT in separate land-side and air-side structure according to Wiki.  The terminal’s design focus was to have a stress-free start experience in passengers’ travel. Elements that stands out are:

  • 25 acres of undulating aluminum standing -seam flying carpet roof  held by painted steel truss support on top of concrete base columns
  • A series of skylight domes to allow natural light on the roof with the bamboo suspended ceiling.
  • Endless transparent, light-filled vast halls and concourses with a structural glazing curtain wall system

From e-architect,

Aims of the Design

The design selected by AENA has four basic principles:

Integration into the landscape
Airport terminals are normally surrounded by secondary elements (car parks, power plants etc.) that obscure orientation through the airport. In this design, such structures are integrated into the main building, taking into account the topography of the local area. The canyons – large courtyards full of daylight – establish a sequence that incorporates the landscape into the interior space.

Despite the extreme heat of summer in Madrid, the design team were committed to the use of passive environmental systems wherever possible, while maximising transparency and views towards the aircraft and the mountains beyond. The building benefits from a north-south orientation with the primary facades facing east and west – the optimum layout for protecting the building against solar gain. The facades are protected by a combination of deep roof overhangs and external shading. A low energy displacement ventilation system is used in the pier, and elsewhere a more conventional high velocity system is used. Given the multi-level section, a strategy was also needed to bring natural light down into the lower levels. The solution is a series of light-filled ‘canyons’. The canyons are spectacular full-height spaces, spanned by bridges in which arriving and departing passengers, though segregated, can share the drama of the imposing space.

Spatial Clarity
Barajas is a model of legibility, with a straightforward linear diagram and a clear progression of spaces for departing and arriving passengers. The accommodation is distributed over six floors; three above ground for check-in, security, boarding and baggage reclaim, and three underground levels for maintenance, baggage processing and transferring passengers between buildings. The flow of passengers starts in the forecourt and goes through the check-in counters and the security control until the boarding lounge.

The layout proposed is adaptable to all activities at the airport, maintaining a strong architectural identity through all stages of the project, with a view to the need for potential extensions of the buildings.


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