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BIG and HOK reveal timber design for Zurich Airport's Dock A, the largest dock of Zurich Airport

Switzerland Architecture News - Jun 16, 2022 - 16:06   1164 views

BIG and HOK reveal timber design for Zurich Airport's Dock A, the largest dock of Zurich Airport

BIG and HOK have won an international two-stage design competition to design Zurich airport's Dock A, the largest dock of Zurich Airport in Switzerland

BIG and HOK's winning proposal, named Raumfachwerk, was selected from 10 global competition entries, including Foster + Partners, Grimshaw Architects, and SOM.

While BIG will serve as leading architect, HOK will serve as aviation architect on the project. In the competition, along with BIG and HOK, 10:8 architects, engineering firm Buro Happold, timber experts Pirmin Jung and aviation consultant NACO form other members of the team and seek to strengthen the airport’s continued status as the gateway of Switzerland.

The airport is predominantly made of locally-sourced timber, while its main loadbearing system is based on V-shaped timber columns in order to provide a structural function and give reference both the iconic Swiss alpine landscapes and the centuries-old tradition of timber construction and traditional pitched roofs. 

BIG and HOK reveal timber design for Zurich Airport's Dock A, the largest dock of Zurich Airport

Image © Bucharest Studio 

Since its opening in the 1950’s, Zurich Airport has become one of the most important aviation hubs in Europe. 

Following the airport’s previous additions of Dock E, the Airside Center, and The Circle, an international two-stage design competition was kicked off in 2020 to replace the aging Dock A.

The new Dock A at the Zurich airport is expected to open in 10 years, and includes Schengen and Non-Schengen gates, airside retail, lounges, offices, the new air traffic control tower, and an extension of the immigration hall – will be the next milestone in the airport's expansion. 

BIG and HOK reveal timber design for Zurich Airport's Dock A, the largest dock of Zurich Airport

Image © IMIGO

The Raumfachwerk was the most convincing from a sustainable, operational, and economic point of view, but also from an urban planning and architectural point of view," said Andreas Schmid, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Flughafen Zürich AG.    

"The name says it all: Space and structure get fully integrated and result in a highly functional and flexible design. The backbone of the project is formed by a structure that is not just load bearing, but defines and adapts the space, creates a unique atmosphere, and provides a distinctive identity true to its place and era," said Prof. Harry Gugger, Chairman of the Jury.  

"This project marks not only a new milestone for Zurich Airport but for the entire aviation. The jury was delighted and grateful to endorse such a groundbreaking project that will help to revive sustainable wood construction for great infrastructural projects," Harry Gugger added.

The Team’s concept is conceived as a robust yet flexible structural framework - the design proposal celebrates the passenger experience and movement through the airport. 

BIG and HOK reveal timber design for Zurich Airport's Dock A, the largest dock of Zurich Airport

Image © IMIGO

The project is located adjacent to the existing Airside Center and Terminal 1, there are two main areas that desifne the new Dock A: the central hub with shopping, airport services for arriving and departing passengers and vertical circulation, and the pier with the gates, waiting areas and the fixed links connecting to the planes.  

"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, patches and extensions. 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," said Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Creative Director, BIG

"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," Ingels added.

BIG and HOK reveal timber design for Zurich Airport's Dock A, the largest dock of Zurich Airport

Image © BIG

The passenger experience is enhanced within the spaces via daylight as a natural wayfinding system. 

A linear skylight is created at the pitch of the roof of the pier and widens toward the central hub and opens up into the atrium where all departing, arriving, and transferring passengers meet. 

By placing the control tower in its center, the tower is experienced from the inside as a beacon that creates a sense of place, akin to a town square rather than an airport.  

Split into seven floors, all floors are connected through the generous light-filled atrium, while all arriving passengers are guided towards the hub of Dock A.  

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.  

BIG and HOK reveal timber design for Zurich Airport's Dock A, the largest dock of Zurich Airport

Image © IMIGO

The team implements a contemporary, pared-back material palette and choose timber as the main material to be used for the structure, floors, and ceilings of Dock A.

"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," said BIG. 

According to BIG, arriving passengers will be welcomed by this distinctly local architecture that showcases high-quality craftmanship while underscoring the airport’s pledge to sustainability.

Dock A’s roof will be covered with PV panels while integrated shading will reduce solar heat gain and maintenance requirements, and a combination of water and air-based cooling and heating systems will improve the building’s energy demand. 

BIG and HOK reveal timber design for Zurich Airport's Dock A, the largest dock of Zurich Airport

Image © Bucharest Studio

"Despite the complex framework conditions of the existing structure, the design of the new Dock A aims to provide the most intuitive routing possible to bring travelers to their airport gates – and thus their final destinations – with efficiency and ease," said Martin Voelkle, Partner in Charge, BIG.  

"Similarly, the visually calm material palette, natural light, and biophilia help redefine passenger expectations of the typical airport experience," Voelkle added.

BIG recently won a competition to design the new Vltava Philharmonic Hall in Prague. BIG and Heatherwick Studio completed Google Bay View Campus in Silicon Valley and completed a cross-shaped furniture factory for Vestre in Norway. 

Project facts

Name: Zurich Airport Dock A
Zurich, Switzerland
 Flughafen Zürich AG
BIG (design lead), HOK (aviation architect), 10:8 (local architect), Buro Happold (structural engineer), Pirmin Jung Schweiz AG (structural engineer timber/building physics), NACO (aviation consultant), Haerter & Partner AG (mechanical engineer), TLP (electrical engineer), B+P Baurealisation (construction management/BIM management/cost), BIQS (fire protection), Pragma (retail strategy), The Design Solution (retail consultant), Bucharest Studio & IMIGO (visuals).

BIG Team

Partners-in-charge: Bjarke Ingels, Martin Voelkle 
Project Leaders: Sören Grünert (Design Lead), David Holbrook (PA) 
Project Manager: Simon Scheller 
Team:  Agla Egilsdottir, Ahmad Tabbakh, Andrew Haas, Bernardo Schuhmacher, Bianca Blanari, Christian Salkeld, Cosmin Paduraru, Don Chen, Dong-Joo Kim, Fabian Lorenz, Guillaume Evain, Gus Steyer, Hanqing (Amie) Yao, Hector Romero, Jaeho Park, James Donaldson, Jan Leenknegt, Jennifer Ng, Ji-Young Yoon, Juan Diego Perez, Luca McLaughlin, Margaret Tyrpa, Montre'ale Jones, Morgan Mangelsen, Oliver Thomas, Ololade Owolabi, Paul Clemens Bart, Pearl Cao, Ruo Wang, Ryan Henriksen, Samantha Pires, Sang Ha Jung, Sebastian Claussnitzer, Shu Zhao, Shuo Yang, Terrence Chew, Tom Lasbrey, Tore Banke, Tracy Sodder, Veronica Watson, Weronika Siwak, Zofia Bednarczyk.

HOK Team

Partners-in-charge: Paul Auguste, Dan Hajjar, Riccardo Mascia, Peter Ruggiero
Project Leaders: 
Kathrin Brunner, William Jenkinson
Alex Bernard, Michael Cook, Tyler Boyett, Gabriella Ebbesson, Dallas Felder, Jake Haggmark, Keelan Hanks, Kyle Ingber, Allison Johnson, John Pirtle, Greg Schleusner, Sebastian Torres.

Top image © Bucharest Studio.

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