UNStudio just officially unveiled Georgia's new Kutsai International Airport after two years of design and construction. The airport has actually been open and in operation since September 2012, but it reached full completion this month. The radically innovative and modern building features a daylight-filled transparent canopy, a pulsing LED tower that reacts to wind conditions, and a wide variety of green building strategies. Kutsai is projected to become the gateway to Georgia in the near future, with up to a million travelers passing through in 2014-2015.
The architecture of the terminal emulates the large open spaces and high ceilings of the great railways stations of the past, according to lead designer, Ben van Berkel. A clear, undulating structure provides a transparent and protective umbrella over the terminal. Passengers flow in and out of this transparent terminal while enjoying stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The terminal includes a cafe and a gallery that will showcase the country’s best and brightest artists and innovators.
Kutaisi Airport also features a 55-meter “pulsing tower” that serves as a beacon and focal point for the airport. The exterior of the tower is clad with a perforated skin over a concrete core. LED lights in-between the skin and the concrete core create the tower’s beacon effect at dusk and dawn. The lights change color when there is fluctuation in wind speed, creating constant visual interest during the dark hours.
The airport uses several innovative green building strategies. A large on-site underground water source is used for sprinkler basins, and pipes carry water through the floors of the terminal and the traffic control tower to maintain a comfortable temperature in the two buildings through radiative heating and cooling. Large cantilevered roofs on the south and southwest sides provide shade and reduce the heat load on the building. A hybrid low pressure ventilation system keeps energy consumption low, and there is a gray-water collection system in the floor underneath the terminal building. The terminal’s next step is to establish a recycling system as part of its daily operations.