Madrid Barajas Airport

Madrid Airport - Design

A simple palette of materials and the use of a kit-of-parts approach to detailing reinforces the direct simplicity of the architectural concept as well as facilitating the ultra-rapid construction programme and maximising the potential for flexibility. The building can be read as a series of extrusions, potentially infinitely extendable, rather than a free-standing bespoke composition. The sheer size of the building has been the key to the assembly-focused approach. A flexible, loose-fit system employing large-scale modular repetition on an 18 by 9 metre structural grid was chosen as the best solution to accommodate the multitude of uses in the terminal, including check-in desks, security checks, retail units, toilets and baggage reclaim.

Within this loose-fit system, the roof emerges as the defining architectural element. It floats over the building, propped rather than supported at the perimeter, so that the impact of the main facade is deliberately minimised. Internally, the heavily insulated roof is clad in laminated strips of Chinese bamboo, giving it a smooth, seamless appearance. The facade is supported by a series of tensioned trusses, held in place by the roof and floor structures.  Horizontal aluminium fins span between the trusses on which the high-performance glass is fixed. Heavy vertical support members are avoided and the result is a seamless horizontal aesthetic underlining the main axis of the building. Natural stone is used as flooring throughout the terminal, adding to the seamless integrity of the space.

A straight forward linear diagram and a clear progression of spaces for departing and arriving passengers contribute to the legibility and usability of the terminal for passengers and workers alike.