Featuring a mass timber design beset with a selection of local materials, a collaboration between two leading international firms has been announced as the winner of a two-stage global competition to deliver a pivotal replacement segment for Switzerland’s busiest transportation hub.
The joint BIG and HOK 'Raumfachwerk' proposal for the Zurich Aiport’s new Dock A was chosen over nine other entries for the decade-long replacement project. In a press statement, the pair shared they'll be working with local studio 10:8 Architekten, structural engineers from Buro Happold, timber experts from Pirmin Jung, and the aviation consultancy NACO to create “an extraordinary spatial experience” that will “seek to strengthen the airport’s continued status as the gateway of Switzerland.”The scheme is said to center around a new air traffic control tower and immigration hall expansion, retail and lounge areas, and two gates that separate passengers in compliance with the 37-year-old Schengen Agreement.
“As airports grow and evolve and as international guidelines and safety requirements change, airports tend to become more and more complex Frankensteins of interconnected elements,” BIG’s founder said of the project’s disembarkment from previous design conventions. “For the new main terminal of Zurich Airport, we have attempted to answer this complex challenge with the simplest possible response: A mass timber space frame that is structural design, spatial experience, architectural finish, and organizational principle in one. The striking structure is made from locally sourced timber, and the long sculptural body of the roof is entirely clad in solar shingles turning sunlight into a power source. A simple yet expressive design – rooted in tradition and committed to innovation - embodying the cultural and natural elements of Swiss architecture.”
The experiential improvements that Ingels hinted at in the announcement are created through the installation of a new linear skylight feature which serves to establish a more user-friendly wayfinding system made better through the influx of natural light.
Per the BIG team, “Arriving passengers are guided towards the hub of Dock A – which is split across seven floors which are visually connected through the generous light-filled atrium. Passenger flows are funneled through the atrium that connects all floors via stairs, escalators and elevators – from the underground immigration hall to all arrival and departure levels, and the lounges on the top floors of the central hub.”
“A contemporary, pared-back material palette, the structure, floors, and ceilings of Dock A are envisioned with timber as the main material. As a renewable local resource, this material choice allows for efficient prefabrication during the construction process while paying homage to the long-standing local tradition of wood construction in Switzerland. The main loadbearing system of the building is based on V-shaped timber columns – providing a structural function while also serving as a reference both the iconic Swiss alpine landscapes and the centuries-old tradition of timber construction and traditional pitched roofs. Arriving passengers will be welcomed by this distinctly local architecture that showcases high-quality craftmanship while underscoring the airport’s pledge to sustainability.”
“With its elegant and sustainable timber design, the new Dock A and Root will be a landmark for both the Zurich Airport and the world’s aviation sector,” said HOK’s Peter Ruggiero on the proposal’s potentially game-changing influence. “We have collaborated with BIG and the entire team to design an addition to the terminal that illustrates the airport’s commitment to environmental stewardship and that respects centuries of local building craft and tradition. It will provide an exceptional experience for passengers as well as enhance the airport’s vibrant commercial center.”
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