Timber construction in the spotlight at Zurich Airport

By Mike Hayes20 June 2022

Plans have been revealed to expand Zurich Airport, with the creation of a new pier, Dock A, to be constructed primarily from timber.

Exterior view of the proposed new Dock A building at Zurich Airport. Image: Bucarest Studio

Following an architecture competition, the winning design – called Raumfachwerk – came from a team comprising BIG, HOK and 10:8 Architekten. The sustainable principles of the team’s design promise to set new standards for sustainable airport construction.

The Dock A project will include the construction of a seven-storey building, with departure gates, retail space, lounges, offices and an air traffic control tower.

The primary building material will be engineered wood, which will form the load-bearing system of the new building – with huge V-shaped timber columns pointing to a transparent roof, made from solar panels. The building’s photovoltaic system is expected to cover some two thirds of the building’s annual electricity needs.

Interior vew of proposed Dock A, with timber columns supporting a photovoltaic roof. Image: Imigo

Andreas Schmid, chairman of the board of directors of Zürich Airport, said, “The ‘Raumfachwerk’ project was the most impressive, in particular in terms of sustainability, operations and the economic aspects, but also as regards urban planning and the architecture.”

Founder and director of BIG, Bjarke Ingels, said, “As airports grow and evolve and as international guidelines and safety requirements change, airports tend to become more and more complex.

“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 organisational 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.”

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