Aviation is one of the most “global” industries that connect people from different cultures and businesses across continents. The evolution of airport architecture has been significantly modernized over the decades. The industry has continued to expand making travel simpler, faster, and luxurious to meet the demand for air travel. Today, airport designs have taken us to the next age of aviation where some designs are breaking world records including the world’s biggest terminal in Istanbul to the largest indoor waterfall at Changi airport. More than 100 airports serving at least 10millon passengers each year is a huge challenge put forth architects to design a space which is more secure and functional transporting such an influx of crowd overseas.

Following are the 10 inspirational airport designs operating around the world, that has the architecture to new heights.

1. Beijing Daxing International Airport – Zaha Hadid Architects

Beijing Daxing is not only an airport in itself but it also integrates into the country’s major transport hub. The airport is estimated to annually accommodate 100 million passengers and 4 million tons of cargo by 2025. Inspired by the traditional Chinese Architecture, six flowing forms of the structure congregate at the central courtyard whilst the heart of the terminal is complemented by a network of linear skylights, which directs all passengers through an intuitive navigation system. The idea of a compact airport design allows the passengers to travel short distances throughout without the need for an automated transport system. 

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1A_Exterior view_©www.archdaily.com
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1B_Plan_©www.archdaily.com
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2. Jewel Changi Airport  – Safdie Architects

Often known for the best airport designs in the world, the Changi Airport at Singapore designed by the master architect Moshie Safdie is one of the largest transportation hubs in Southeast Asia. To accommodate the increasing traffic of air travel, terminal 3 (change airport) was constructed. What makes it more unique, is the combination of the two environments – a marketplace and a paradise garden creating a community-centric typology of heart and soul. The heart of the structure houses the world-s largest indoor waterfall ‘rain vortex” that cools the accompanied forest valley garden equipped with over 200 species of flora and fauna that has become a jewel in itself.

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2B_Rain Vortex view_©www.archdaily.com
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2C_Interior view_©www.archdaily.com

3. Denver International Airport – Fentress Architects

A truly revolutionary design for the city of Denver in the USA. The airport design has created a symbol for the city through its iconic architecture rather than just being a gateway. The tensile roof canopy represents the Majestic snow-capped rock mountains of the context which is admired by many. The roof material drastically reduces the use of artificial daylight capitalizing on the fact of 300 days of sunshine each year while reflecting 90% of solar radiation thus reducing the solar heat gain.

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3A_Exterior view_©Timothy Hursley
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3B_Detail view_©Timothy Hursley
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3C_Panoromic view _©Timothy Hursley

4. Madrid-Barajas Airport Terminal 4 – Estudio Lamela & Rogers  Stirk Harbour + Partners

Designed to functionally distribute the circulation into three linear modules, the terminal building serves different functions according to the passenger traffic as per the arrival and departures. The structural system of the airport is accompanied by light-filled canyons that provide natural illumination to the lower levels. This airport design contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing energy consumption and upkeep costs. The vertical movement of passengers is located between the canyons to indicate the sequence of actions that the passenger needs to carry out as per airport formalities. 

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4A_Exterior view_©www.archdaily.com
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5. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport – Terminal 2 – SOM

The international airport located in Mumbai, India welcomes 6 million passengers every year and serves up to five times the number. With the growing volume of domestic and international traffic, the airport design responds to the complex web of passengers and planes overcoming the frequent delays that caused chaos in the overall functioning. Inspired by the traditional Indian Pavilions and the peacock feathers, the airport stands out among the contemporary to a more traditional outlook. Gracious drop-off zones are designed for large parties of well-wishers to accommodate the Indian way of welcoming the guests.  

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5A_Exterior view_©www.archdaily.com

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5C_Interior view_©www.archdaily.com

6. Hamad International Airport Passenger Terminal Complex – HOK

Reflecting Qatar’s progressive growth, the airport design with its curving and dramatic roof canopy, recalls the impression of the ocean waves and sand dunes that projects a powerful image of the context thus paying an homage to the cultural heritage of the city. The unobstructed views enable passengers to easily find their destinations. A deliberate lack of ornamentation provides a clear vision for understanding spatial functions and circulation within the large complex.

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6A_Exterior view_©www.archdaily.com
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6B_Plan_©www.archdaily.com
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6C_Interior view_www.archdaily.com

7. Mactan Cebu International Airport T2 – Integrated Design Associates

MCIA is the second largest airport in the Philippines and to meet the demand of increasing traffic, the modular design of the airport can adapt to the future expansions of the structure. It conceptualized reflecting the resort-like feel but functioning as an airport terminal. The high pitched roof and eaves being at the lower level eliminate maximum heat gain and glare during the day. The uppermost structure is well braced to withstand the seismic effects and typhoon currents that frequently occur in the vicinity.

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7A_Exterior view_©www.archdaily.com
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7C_Interior view_©www.archdaily.com

8. Kansai International Airport – Renzo Piano

Designed by an Italian architect Renzo Piano, built on a man-made island in the Bay of Osaka is regarded as the first ocean airport in the world. The longitudinal airport design stretching across 1.7kms and 42 boarding gates with a curved roof canopy just like an airfoil are designed to withstand Japan’s frequent earthquakes. With just 4 months of its opening, it survived the 6.9 Kobe earthquake with minimal damage. 

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8A_Exterior view_©Sky Front
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8B_Truss View_©www.dezeen.com
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8C_Concourse View_©www.dezeen.com

9. Queen Alia International Airport – Foster + Partners

Inspired by the Bedouin tents, the airport at Jordan, features the unique modular concrete domes forming the roof canopy that spans the entire terminal building. These modular arrangements of domes allow the structure for the needed future expansion and provide shade from the intense sunlight during the day.  The inner surface of the roof replicates the surface texture of a leaf and the colour schemes of brown and cream represent the surrounding desert context of Jordan.  

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9A_Exterior view_©www.archdaily.com
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9B_Detail view_©www.archdaily.com
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9C_Interior roof view_©www.archdaily.com

10. Istanbul International Airport – Grimshaw, Haptic & Nordic Team of Architects

The vaulted ceiling design of the airport gives a strong impression of directionality from airside to landside in intuitive wayfinding thus enhancing the passenger experience. The interiors are inspired by the ever-changing hues and tones of Istanbul whereas the subtle slatted roof demonstrates the play of natural light in a range of blue colours and intricate geometric patterns. A massive airport in its final phase by the year 2025, is estimated to handle up to 200 million passengers becoming the biggest airport worldwide under a single roof in terms of passenger traffic.

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10A_Exterior view_©www.bing.com
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10B_Detail view_©www.bing.com
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Author

Tanya is pursuing her B.Arch from VIT’s PVP College of Architecture, Pune. She believes in a holistic approach towards design and living with nature. Through her bachelor’s study, she has developed an interest in travelling and exploring this profession. Apart from architecture, dance and music are an integral part which has made herself know better.

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