Georgia just unveiled plans for a modern and innovative new international airport that is sure to transport the country into a new era. Designed by UNStudio, the Kutaisi Airport is located in the new capital city and is characterized by a transparent and circular structure designed to efficiently move travelers through the space. With a strong focus on Georgia's historic landscape, architecture, and art, the new airport will serve as a gateway to the country and help introduce the land and the people to tourists. Low-energy and water-efficient design features will play a huge role in the airport's green building strategies, which will guide future projects in the country towards environmental sustainability.
Georgia is a rapidly developing country that is experiencing an influx of tourists, but their existing airport infrastructure is severely lacking. Construction of the new airport, which is set to begin before the end of 2011, coincides with the construction of the new parliament building in the capital of Kutaisi. Departing and arriving travelers are clearly directed through the circular airport, and the large open space in the middle will serve as a gallery and exhibition space for Georgian artists.
Clad in a transparent skin, the exterior will actually change color when there is a fluctuation in traffic. The 55-meter-high Air Traffic Control Tower sits nearby and serves as a beacon for arrivals and departures. A large overhanging roof shields the interior from excessive sunlight, and an on-site underground source of natural water will be used to regulate interior temperatures. Energy use will be minimized through a water cooling system using concrete core activation, and fresh air will circulate via a hybrid low pressure ventilation system. A grey water collection system in the floor underneath the terminal building will help manage wastewater, while a comprehensive waste management and recycling system will reduce trash and serve as a model for future projects throughout the country. The roof has also been designed to accommodate a photovoltaic system in the future, which will generate power for the airport.
Construction of the new Kutaisi Airport is slated to begin in December 2011, and it is scheduled to open in September 2012. UNStudio’s Ben van Berkel describes the project: “It was particularly exciting for me to be able to design an airport which is not only linked to the new seat of parliament in Kutaisi, but which also creates an entrance condition which functions as a port for the international community. The airport presents a symbolic infrastructural gateway to Georgia and, from there, to the rest of the world.”