Design Team: Jason Zerafa, Joaquin Boldrini, Katherine Moya Ramirez
Facility: Passenger Terminal
Size: 60,000 m2
Inherent in the airBaltic brand is the idea of connectivity. This theme is one that is manifest in both the brand profile, and the modern operational culture of the airline. The airBaltic experience is one that seeks to balance the operational necessities of air travel with the more inspirational and positive associations we have with flying.
Freedom is our essential association with flight; however, the experience can suffer under the weight of the operational complexities imposed by contemporary air travel. The exuberance of air travel and the control required by operational considerations may seem mutually exclusive. The terminal design should address this reality and seek to create an environment where the “control” associated with operations does not effectively extinguish the “freedom” associated with flying. Connectivity and communication are essential components of the solution, and as such, we see the terminal as a conduit for air travel.
The movement of passengers between landside and airside is our point of departure and primary design consideration. This movement from landside to airside can be expressed by a series of parallel virtual corridors defined by the repetition of an extruded form. These “virtual corridors” are created by extruding an inverted u-shaped portal shape in the east/west direction to generate a primary grain clearly describing the landside to airside path. The building is composed of eighteen parallel portals shapes which are each extruded along a unique curve to create an undulating wave composition running from east to west. The curves are variations on a typical curve generated from the sectional path of passengers travelling from aircraft down to curb and curb to aircraft. The effect is to create a volumetric landscape within the greater airport landscape.
The two portal forms at the north and south ends of the building are each extruded out 224 m beyond the main body of the terminal building to form the Non-Schengen and Schengen departure piers. The volumetric expression of these piers is a clear extension of passenger movement along a landside to airside path. Another portal shape is extruded out to the east towards the city beyond the terminal to provide both a visual link, as well as a physical covered connection from the terminal building to the parking volume. When viewed from the air, the building form extends a hand into both landside and airside. Conceptually, passenger circulation within the terminal is then either interpreted as with the grain (primary) or against the grain (secondary) creating an experiential circulation hierarchy within the building.
The use of a repetitive module (spatial unit) to make sequence of directional spaces creates a variety of spatial experiences as passengers move throughout the building. Because the extruded portal shapes are moving through space along unique curving trajectories, they create areas of openness and compression as they rise up or move downward towards the floor. The effect is to reduce the scale of the interior volumes by defining a series of varied interior compartments. This familiar rhythm of directional spaces recalls the composition of barreled vault buildings of the Riga landmark Central Market, themselves with a historical connection to flight. This use of this type of repetitive unit also facilitates the future bay by bay expansion of the terminal.
As transfer passengers make up approx 70% of the projected passenger capacity, the quality of the transfer passenger experience and efficiency of transfer circulation is critical to airBaltic customers. In contrast to typical terminal profiles, the relative importance of the transfer passenger suggests that the movement of these passengers should inform the building design in a direct and meaningful way.
The internal network of transfer passenger circulation from gate to gate through the required security and passport controls is consolidated into an L-shaped object to create a distinct airBaltic “Transfer Bar” that is expressed in the terminal massing as a colored floating volume. Identified by the airBaltic green, the transfer bar volume is legible at distance to arriving passengers prior to arrival at the contact gates or transfer from remote gates. Passengers can visually identify their unique transfer circulation path and destination before entering the terminal. This provides passengers with clear and intuitive way-finding within the building immediately upon arrival.