The masterplan for the expansion of Tocumen International Airport is planned to increase capacity from 5.8 to 18 million passengers a year by 2022, establishing an important new hub for the Americas. The new terminal is designed to reflect the Panamanian landscape, evoking a unique sense of place to welcome visitors to the country and removing the anonymity of the international hub experience for transit passengers.
At the heart of the new airport is a lush open garden, planted with the trees and flora of Panama’s tropical forests, visible within a curved glass enclosure. Two symmetrical wings of piers extend to the east and west from the garden and central concourse, and the entire building is unified beneath an aerodynamic bronze-coloured roof. A warm interior materials palette of stone and exposed beams complements the metallic tones of the roof, and glazed facades open the airport up to the airfield and landscape beyond. As the focus of a hub is on transfer passengers, the terminal’s planning minimises connection times, with strong visual connections across the airport to allow intuitive way-finding. Viewed in plan, the curve of the building’s facade has been carefully balanced to minimise walking distances, while extending to accommodate a large number of aircraft stands.
Engineering and architecture were conceived together, resulting in a comprehensive environmental strategy that balances complementary active and passive measures. Openings in the roof allow daylight to penetrate the furthest reaches of the building, and a deep overhang protects the glazed facades from solar gain, thus minimising the need for mechanical cooling. Importantly, the structure is designed to enable a fast-track schedule in tropical conditions, and the project is phased to allow the airport to operate during construction.