Dominating a key position in the global race for fast-expanding luxury air travel and transfer points, the new Midfield Terminal Complex will process up to 40 million passengers to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding Middle East capital.
Conceived as a gateway to Abu Dhabi, the Terminal Building is raised up from the road level giving the appearance of sitting on its own plateau. In this context the building is the dominant and most impressive structure on the horizon with its dynamic profile silhouetted against the sky. At night the building’s illuminated interior will be visible from the highway over 1,500 meters 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-meter-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. On plan, the X-shape provides the greatest programmatic efficiencies enabling the terminal to extend to 65 gates, accommodating 59 aircrafts at any one time.
The Abu Dhabi International Airport Midfield Complex supports the tradition of transforming the desert into the “Garden of the Gulf” through a design that responds to the natural environment, while also meeting the needs of the rapidly expanding capital of the United Arab Emirates. Conceived as a new gateway to the city, the airport expansion is integral to Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, a framework for the Emirate’s future development and projected population growth. Located between two parallel runways, the terminal, in concert with existing facilities is designed to accommodate up to 20 million passengers by 2015. Ultimately the airport will process 50 million travellers and more than two million tons of cargo each year. The brief called for a design that minimises walking distances and maximises aircraft parking capacity, while ensuring high environmental standards for the construction and operation of the complex. Following extensive analysis, an X-shaped plan was determined to provide the greatest programmatic efficiencies with the initial 39-gate facility being expandable up to 49 gates. The design creates large, column-free zones that enhance passenger experience and can accommodate future expansion, internal reconfiguration, and technological changes. Framed by long-space steel arches that support a soaring roof, a generously scaled hall leads passengers into the ‘civic’ heart of the building: a vast interior complete with hotel, cultural outlets, shops, dining, lounges and park-like garden. The undulating roof curves downward at the concourse piers, providing protection from the sun and defining a series of departure lounges. Wayfinding is enhanced by the terminal’s configuration and use of natural light. The project is guided by several environmental objectives, including site-wide energy management; minimisation of potable water usage and construction waste; maximisation of recycling; high performance thermal envelope; public transportation options; stratified air-conditioning systems; building controls; energy-recovery; low-energy lighting; daylighting; passive shading; high-quality, durable materials; sustainably fuelled low-emission vehicles; and dry climate landscaping