A collaboration between Foster + Partners, FR-EE and NACO won the international competition to design Mexico City’s new international airport. At 470 000 square metres, it will be one of the world’s largest airports and will revolutionise airport design – the entire terminal is enclosed within a continuous lightweight gridshell, embracing walls and roof in a single, flowing form, evocative of flight. The design ensures short walking distances and few level changes, it is easy to navigate, and passengers will not have to use internal trains or underground tunnels – it is a celebration of space and light. Flexible in operation, its design anticipates the predicted increase in passenger numbers to 2028 and beyond, and its development will be the catalyst for the regeneration of the surrounding area. The airport is planned on a new site with three runways, and an expansion plan up to 2062 with an eventual six runways.
With spans in excess of 100 metres, three times the span of a conventional airport, it has a monumental scale inspired by Mexican architecture and symbolism. The maximum span internally is 170 metres. The lightweight glass and steel structure and soaring vaulted roof are designed for Mexico City’s challenging soil conditions. Its unique pre-fabricated system can be constructed rapidly, without the need for scaffolding – the airport will be a showcase for Mexican innovation, built by Mexican contractors and engineers.
The entire building is serviced from beneath, freeing the roof of ducts and pipes and revealing the environmental skin. This hardworking structure harnesses the power of the sun, collects rainwater, provides shading, directs daylight and enables views – all while achieving a high performance envelope that meets high thermal and acoustic standards. The LEED Platinum design works with Mexico City’s temperate, dry climate to fill the terminal spaces with fresh air using displacement ventilation principles. For a large part of the year, comfortable temperatures will be maintained by almost 100% outside air, with little or no additional heating or cooling required.