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Monday, March 25, 2013

Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan


By Teresa Simon
Photography: Nigel Young; courtesy Foster+Partners

Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan designed by Foster+Partners
Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan

The highly efficient passive design of Queen Alia International Airport - the spectacular new gateway to Amman, inspired by local traditions and based on a flexible modular solution is yet another visionary Foster + Partners’ blueprint in the international arena of architecture and design.


“Queen Alia International Airport has been an extraordinary project,” informs Mouzhan Majidi, Chief Executive, Foster + Partners. “It has transformed Amman into a niche hub, while offering critical growth for the wider economy through regional links.”

Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan designed by Foster+Partners
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In response to Amman’s climate, where summer temperatures vary markedly between day and night time, the building is constructed largely from concrete, the high thermal mass of the material providing passive environmental control. The tessellated roof canopy comprises a series of shallow concrete domes (each dome provided a modular unit for construction), which extend to shade the facades. The domes branch out from the supporting columns like the leaves of a desert palm and daylight floods the concourse through split beams at the column junctions. Echoing the veins of a leaf, the complex geometry of the roof is based on traditional Islamic forms applied to each exposed soffit.

Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan designed by Foster+Partners
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Two piers of departure gates run along either side of the central building, which contains the main processing areas and shops, lounges and restaurants. Between these volumes, open-air courtyards – a feature of vernacular architecture in the region – contribute to the terminal’s environmental strategy: the plants and trees help to filter pollution and pre-condition the air before it is drawn into the air handling system and reflecting pools bounce indirect natural light into the airport.

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The terminal is glazed on all sides to allow views of the aircraft on the apron and to aid orientation. Horizontal louvers shade the facades from direct sunlight – to eliminate glare, the louvers become concentrated in more exposed areas close to the columns. The concrete structure incorporates local gravel to reduce maintenance requirements and the embodied energy of the material, and to harmonize with the natural shades of local sand.

Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan designed by Foster+Partners
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A dynamic symbol for Jordan, the airport’s design resonates with a sense of place and local architecture, particularly in the domed roof, which from the air echoes the black flowing fabric of a Bedouin tent. There are also references to the Jordanian tradition of hospitality – in celebration of the custom for family groups to congregate at the airport, the forecourt has been enlarged to create a landscaped plaza with seating, shaded by trees, where people can gather to bid farewell or welcome returning travellers.

Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan designed by Foster+Partners
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Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan designed by Foster+Partners
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The new terminal building is energy efficient, and will accommodate a phased expansion allowing the airport to grow by 6 per cent per annum for the next twenty-five years, increasing capacity from 3.5 million to 12 million passengers per annum by 2030.  

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