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Detail of the interior glass wail: the joint.



INTRODUCTION The project of an airport Is particularly important if we consider that it is the first image received by a visitor arriving to the city. Nowadays, when the image of Barcelona and of Spain are evolving towards a better quality of life, the airport should be an example of this new reality. In an airport there are two clearly defined areas: the land part, with all the facilities and services for the passengers, and the air part: the runways and the technical services for airplane maintenance. The fundamental function of an airport is to permit the contact between land and air with the utmost ease to both passengers and airplanes. This function could not be fulfilled by the existing Barcelona Airport. The increase of air traffic that may be foreseen because of the forthcoming EEC deregulation and the 1992 Olympic Games convinced the Minister of Transportation, Tourism and Communications to undertake the work for the design of a new air terminal.

obtained, within the modules, by an internal gallery defined by glass walls. The elevated road, about 1,000 metres long, is the backbone of the design: through it pass the incoming and outgoing passengers. Furnished with shops and stalls, it resembles the 'Ramblas' of Barcelona. It permits either a long and leisure walk or a rapid passage from the outside square to the embarkation gates. The building, with all its functions, may be 'read' easily: complex indications are therefore unnecessary. The structure of the new building rests on reinforced concrete pillars and supports a double glass wall with three gradations of transparency, which ensures control over air temperature and lighting. The main hall is a grand uninterrupted space, with red marble flooring: as soon as you enter, you may see the whole interior of the building. Peter Hodgkinson Project Manager

The project for the new air terminal was carried out by Ricardo Bofill's 'Taller de Arquitectura', together with the Intesca engineering company, and with the technical support of National Airports Consulting of Amsterdam and of Ove Arup, an English company specialized in structural engineering. Moreover, various specialized companies took part in the design and construction stage among these Tecno, for interior architecture. The redesign of the airport aims at permitting a large flow of passengers and airplanes with the utmost comfort. We foresee to be able to pass from the present 6 million passengers/ year to 12 millions, and to increase the parking slots for the airplanes form 34 to 62, 24 of which in contact with the air terminal through telescopic passenger loading bridges. The linear solution, forced in part by the position of the existing embarkation terminal and of technological block, is emphasized by a strongly longitudinal element: an elevated pedestrian road connecting the modular embarkation piers separates the land from the air, permitting a division between domestic and international passengers. The side of the building facing on the runway is completely new, and hides the existing building. Four triangular modules contain the embarkation halls; the separation between incoming and outgoing passengers is


"There were two possible choices as regards the type o f architecture: a central layout, circle-, star-, or square- shaped, that is, a com pact building, around which the airplanes are parked; or the contrary: a linear layout. T he central layout offers the advantage of concentrating the space, hut the passengers would be lost w ithin an out-of-scale building without any orientation. Finally, I chose the second solution: to lengthen the space along a rectilinear way. I wanted to design a different airport, p leasant, closer to an architectural work than to a gloomy waiting room." (R icardo Bofill)

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Preliminary layout design: ground floor, first floor, roof.

Preliminary design, calculation of the surface area of ground floor, first floor, roof.


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The project takes into account the long and narrow shape of the apron. The triangle­ shaped modular piers protrude onto the apron only for a very

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The mock-up of the preliminary design already shows qualifying architectural choices: the elevated road connecting the existing buildings (the

old air terminal and the technological block) to the new buildings (the Air Lift and the International Terminal), and to the four triangular embarkation piers.

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The distinction between the functions in the preliminary design. From left to right: the BarcelonaMadrid Air Lift, Domestic Flights,

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DomesticInternational Flights, International Flights. With the new EEC regulations there will be no longer any distinction between

domestic flights and international flights towards EEC countries.

The works have been planned so as never to affect the functionality of the air terminal. In fact, the new modules are

separate from one another, and each carries out its function in a self-contained way.

"The useful life of an airport, because of technological progress and of the overall developm ent of the social requirem ents, is rather limited: I have designed a structure suitable for the next thirty years.

In any case, the architect cannot limit him self to provide an answer - no m atter how timely it may be - to the needs of a certain period: he also must offer a constructive view of the future." (R icardo Bofill)





"After all, the history o f architecture is the expression of a dream: transform ing the environm ent where we live into a harm onious space. T he organization of space takes precedence over showing off at best the m aterials. Metal structures, glass, reinforced concrete are only the tools that perm it us to accom plish the dom ination over space. This is the M editerranean feeling for architecture." (R icardo Bofill)

The stages of the ĂŠrection of the mĂŠtal structure for the International Terminal.

The structure of the Air Lift: longitudinal section, cross-section of the elevated

pedestrian road and of the triangular embarkation module.

The International Terminal: side view, and front towards the runway: cross-section and longitudinal section of the

structure. On the right-hand side, the outer wall,

The supporting structure of the double glass wall: isometric projection (on the left) and during erection.



The double glass anchored to the metal structure ensures control over the air temperature in the


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The aggregation 'key' of the glass plates: on the wall (beneath) and on the roof of the main International Flights hall (on the right).

Types of prefabricated reinforced-concrete pillars.

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"Elegance consists, in the end, in hiding the effort." (Ricardo Bofill)

Variable size of the pillar at different heights over the ground.

The sequence of the construction operations for the elevated pedestrian road.

"Nothing satisfies me as m uch as the organization o f vast spaces. Perhaps it is a hunger for space that comes from my childhood." (R icardo Bofill)


" I he form ula lliat I chose is a longitudinal lenghening of the spare: almost one kilom etre long. Is this a h in d r a n c e when you come out of the taxi with a suitcase.'* No. nohody has to wolk • he e n tire distance: a r r iv e in fro n t of a d o o r, come out of the e a r , cross the a i r p o r t, a n d you a r e ju st in fro n t of the a irp la n e door." ( R icardo Bofill)

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The front of the Air Lift, at the far left of the airport building.

The existing building is preserved for domestic flights. On the front, a distinguishing mark of Catalan culture: a mosaic by Joan Mird.

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On the far right, the International Terminal ends the airport building.



Thus Barcelona welcomes the visitor that arrives from the air (or bids farewell to those who are leaving).



"The principles of classical architecture, defined in Greece between the 5th and the 4th century BC , conquered E urope, crossing borders and centuries. They never prevented the true creators from m anifesting their personality. Classical inspiration does not mean technological archaism: on the contrary, it means innovation and, above all, work over a language, and search for the conditions that ensure its strength." (R icardo Bofill)

The convex front of the Air Lift in a state of tension vis-Ă -vis the strong linear expression of the elevated pedestrian road.


"When we enter a classical tem ple, what strikes us is the hidden harm ony that is the key to the whole com position. Clearly it arises from a progressive em ptying out, a slow and orchestrated disappearance o f matter. Through the colum ns the view widens towards

the cypress and olive trees. N ature, thus fram ed, appears the to he in proportion to man. The architects have found the proportions that turn the outside into a domestic space." (Ricardo Bofill)


The airport's materials: the marble of the floor and of the benches, the glass of the walls, the metal of

the structure, the reinforced concrete of the pillars, thd wood’ of the seats.

The restaurant, at the end of the Rambla, in the Air Lift area.


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The entrance-hall of International Flights Is a paradigm of the Mediterranean 'architecture of space1. A magic space covered by a luminous plate

supported by four white-coloured reinforced-concrete pillars. Our view is not hindered from absorbing the building as a whole.


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"The developm ent o f the longitudinal axis is a wide glass-enclosed 'rambla' running the whole length o f the building. A leisure walk for the passenger in transit with some time on his hands. Along the way there are shops, coffee b ars, restaurants, and, on the other side, the endless coming and going of airplanes. Every now and then a garden, a p atio, some palm trees. Nothing can match the show of people offering themselves up as a show." (R icardo Bofill)

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"1 am interested in interior furnishing, a necessary exercise for an architect, when it is connected to a global design: for instance, conceiving the furnishing for a building designed com pletely by myself: uniting the little things, the d etails, to the whole that exceeds and encom passes them." (R icardo Bofill)

The modular pollfunctional stalls, as the whole interior furnishing of the airport, were carried out by Tecno.

"From this space the passengers are protagonists. They im prove their condition as men because they are higher up than the m achines. The airplane is always at a lower level than the man." (Ricardo Bofill)

The 'reading1of the space, at the level of the Rambla, is simplicity itself: the

indication systems contain not much more than flight information.


"The starting point is technology: to disasscmhl the - num erous - functions anil to reassemble them one beside the other. The linear structure perm its to play on two axes: the longitudinal passage (like the Kamhlas) and the perpendicular access to the airplanes." (Ricardo Bofill)

The four triangular embarkation modules connect the Rambla to the passenger loading bridges, six for each module. Moreover, at ground

level, every module has other exits for the embarkation of the passengers on airplanes parked far away. In the piIans (below: the Air Lift

module; on the right: International Flights) we notice the six embarkation gates; the international gallery, (limited by a glass wall) that

separates the incoming passengers from the departure waiting area; the stairs that enable access to the ground floor.

The embarkation gate and the gallery for incoming passengers; below, the projection of the module on the apron.

The double glass wall with graduated transparency permits to control light and temperature.

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1,500 passengers waiting for departure. The passengers enjoy services and comfort.

The capacity of the module - access to which is filtered by the security checks is approximately







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The waiting room benches, provided by Tecno, are of wood, upholstered, and with a metal base.

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The ramp that goes to the module's ground floor, where the wooden benches again provided by Tecno - have a marble base.


Tecno furniture specially realized for Barcelona Airport and designed by Ricardo Bofill consists of: • glass walls • stands and kiosks • reception, control and check-ln counters • bar counters • restaurant tables • two different models of waiting benches • sofas • flower-holders.

BARCELONA AIRPORT is one of a series of books published by Edizioni Tecno with the aim of promoting excellence in architecture and design. Artwork and texts: Centro Progetti Tecno Photos: Pietro Carrieri FCP s.a. (aerial photographs) Hisao Suzuki Taller de Arquitectura Printed by: Grafiche Mariano Š Copyright Edizioni Tecno 1991 We want to thank: Ministerio de Transportes Aeropuerto de Barcelona Fomento de Obras y Construcciones s.a. Taller de Arquitectura for their co-operation.

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