The programme of requirements includes a terminal building, a control tower, and two spaces for storages. Given their size, none of these elements were obvious candidates to represent a new airport. The strategy pursued therefore seeked to link the three programmes by means of a common visual element that avoids the impression that a strange object has landed in the fields of Lleida while also defining a recognisable landmark.
A large envelope element covers the building like a blanket, drawing together its various functions and structures. This surface folds out on either side of the control tower, tracing a marked curve that is the most distinctive feature of the design.
The patchwork of finishes (plant-based, timber, and lacquered micro-perforated steel sheet) offers a mix of textures and tones, echoing the character of the surrounding agricultural landscape and linking the airport to the territory where it is sited. A COR-TEN steel plate edge spans the thickness of the roof, structure, and false ceiling layers, clearly defining a thick plane that overhangs the façades.
A floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall delimits the passenger area. Thanks to a system that supports the curtain wall from above, terminal users have an unobstructed view at eye level. The deep overhang of the roof and efficient solar control glass provide optimal solar protection without the need for any additional elements. On the other hand, two opaque technical blocks, understood as compact volumes covered by the higher order of the roof, house areas that need to be separated from the open spaces.
The control tower, a 42 meters high building, is designed as a singular work that goes beyond the structure, encompassing and integrating architecturally the projects of the terminal and the outbuildings. The tower is linked to the other bodies by the folding of the roof, which creates a double translucent skin that homogenises and protects interior openings. The fanal of the control tower – whose geometry and materials cannot be varied – is treated as one more technical element of the complex. The fact that the architecture of the tower responds effectively to aeronautical, territorial and landscape requirements sets the Alguaire Airport apart from most buildings of this type.
The large roof structure that distinguishes the building is also its main environmental feature. The various finishes provide thermal inertia and ventilation in response to solar radiation; reinforced thermal insulation minimises energy loss through the most sensitive plane of the building; areas of vegetation provide a degree of continuity in terms of the building’s footprint in the landscape; and the cantilever of the roof protects the interior from direct exposure to the sun’s rays.
+ Project credits / data
Project: Lleida-Alguaire Airport
Location: Alguaire, Lleida, Spain
Gross floor area: 4.942 m2 (Terminal building: 1,412 m2 / Control tower: 2,890 m2 / Storages: 640 m2)
Competition phase: June – September 2007
Construction phase: February 2008 – January 2010
Architect: b720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos | http://b720.com/
b720 team: Fermín Vázquez, Peco Mulet, Mónica Xampeny, Zelia Alves, Daniel Valdés, Iván Arellano, Gemma Ojea, Magdalena Ostornol, Egbert Oosterhoof, Sandra Palou, Jaime Luaces, Alessandro Zanchetta, Ángel Gaspar (models), Oriol Roig (3D)
Aeronautical engineering: Aertec
Client: Generalitat de Catalunya / GISA
Developer company: Aeroports de Catalunya, PTOP
General contractor: UTE Alguaire (Dragados / Obrum)
Project Manager: PFM
Structural and mechanical engineers: Aertec
Photographer: Adrià Goula