London-based firm Foster + Partners celebrated the opening today of the new, energy-efficient terminal at Queen Alia Airport, located to the south of Amman, Jordan. The modular terminal, which is capped with small concrete domes, borrows inspiration from traditional Islamic design to create a unique space that utilizes passive technologies to maintain a steady temperature throughout the dramatic climate shifts that occur in the desert region during summer. In addition to creating a visually striking and efficient structure, Foster + Partners incorporated outdoor green spaces to help purify the air and offset the emissions of airport traffic.
Tradition was integral to the design of the Queen Alia Airport terminal. Noting that “Amman is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world,” the architects were inspired to create the tessellating dome-structured roof to echo the “black, flowing fabric” of a traditional Bedouin tent. While aesthetically striking, the modular form also serves a practical purpose: It will allow for future expansion of the airport, which plans to increase its capacity from 3.5 million to 12 million passengers per year by 2030.
The shallow domes, created from concrete, extend over the glazed facades of the building to provide additional shade, while the concrete’s high thermal mass helps to ensure a steady temperature throughout the terminal. The underside of the domes features embossed patterns that—borrowed from Islamic design—echo the veins of a leaf, while tear-shaped skylights placed between the domes help to flood the terminal’s concourse with natural daylight. The structural concrete visible from the terminal’s interior is mixed with local gravel to produce a sandy hue which helps to create a visual continuity between the modern airport concourse and the landscape outside.
Exterior plazas serve environmental, social and aesthetic purposes. With two wings of departure gates extending from either side of the central building, Foster + Partners incorporated green spaces to fill those areas that would otherwise be consumed by concrete slab forecourts. The plazas serve the airport’s environmental strategy, helping to purify the air in a facility that inherently plays host a phenomenal quantity of traffic, while also providing a peaceful view to those inside the terminal. The forecourt at the building’s entrance is extended and filled with trees, green spaces and benches to provide travelers with a space to greet and say goodbye to loved ones.
Images courtesy Foster + Partners