Bentel Associates International designs central node at Johannesburg International Airport

Posted On Monday, 07 November 2005 02:00 Published by Commercial Property News
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Bentel Associates International designs central node at Johannesburg International Airport

Central Terminal OR Tambo“The Central Terminal Building (CTB) development is a component of the overall development of the existing terminal precinct at Johannesburg International Airport (JIA). The area forms part of the Airports Company South Africa’s (ACSA) current development plan which includes a series of major projects, upgrades and new buildings intended to increase the capacity and functionality of the airport,” says Steve Riley, Bentel Associates International’s (BAI) architect and project director for the CTB development.

JIA is the world-class air transport hub of southern Africa.  It hosts airlines from all five continents, caters for more than 13 million passengers each year and forms part of a global network of trade, distribution and other economic activities.  According to the Airports Council International’s passenger statistics, JIA is busier than Brisbane and Dubai airports, and its passenger traffic has even overtaken that of Cairo.  The biggest and busiest airport on the continent, it is now capable of handling 22 million passengers annually.

Since ACSA’s inception in 1993, JIA’s growth rate has been consistently high, putting the airport’s infrastructure under pressure and making extra capacity and efficient movement of passengers a top priority.  ACSA is actively pursuing the development of JIA not only as an airport of excellence and an entry point into the rest of Africa but also as an ‘aerocity’.  JIA is currently one of the most cost-effective airports in the world, according to a recent report by the United Kingdom Transportation Research Laboratory.

To facilitate the achievement of its development objectives ACSA has divided JIA into nine precincts dedicated to increasing and enhancing the efficiency and capacity of all operations.  Most of these precincts have undergone or will undergo major infrastructural changes and development.  Current plans include the CTB, the International Terminal upgrade, a new apron, a train link and several multi-storey car parks.  Surrounding road infrastructure and access roads have also been recently upgraded.

The exponential increase in passengers necessitated the expansion and upgrading of the terminal precinct.  The new Domestic Terminal building, which was completed in 2003, boosted JIA’s capacity to more than 16 million passengers a year.  A R44-million domestic-to-international passenger transfer facility was opened in April 2004 and the International Terminal is presently undergoing a major upgrade. 

The CTB, currently under construction, is being built on the site of the old Domestic Terminal building situated between the present International Terminal and the recently completed new Domestic Terminal.  “The design of a building within the space designated for the CTB is unique and challenging,” says Riley.  “As a hub airport JIA has a focus to maximise the efficient processing of passengers and goods.  The conceptual design challenge for the CTB has been to find an even balance between the built infrastructural requirements and the operational, technical and economic considerations of JIA.  The airport aims for the highest standards of service and its operations are run very tightly.”

Concept plans for the CTB feature a spacious triple storey internal space, an enormous central atrium with a glass dome allowing plenty of natural lighting, lots of large and spacious open areas and overhead walkways to other buildings. 

“There has been substantial debate as regards the design and finishes of the CTB.  However, practical decisions were made and a complimentary design approach has been utilised,” comments Riley.  Décor, finishes and interior design will echo the adjoining buildings providing continuity and enhancing the efficient flow of passengers and visitors.  The exterior design of the CTB will complement the existing buildings creating an overall similarity in style.

The CTB concept design also includes a huge retail component.  Retail, one of ACSA’s three principal sources of revenue, is a key element in the company’s strategy to maximise non-aeronautical income. 

The airport station for a train link will also be integrated with the CTB.  ACSA is working closely with the Gauteng Provincial Government on the development of a Gautrain high-speed link to JIA.
“The documentation and design development for the CTB is a very significant part of the overall development at JIA - it has to produce an efficient seamless structure which will optimise capacity for the expected annual 25-million flyers.  The CTB has to streamline the movement of people in a hub airport environment thereby maximising the efficient use of airport facilities and infrastructure,” says Riley. 

“With this development we are ensuring that JIA can cater for all the people who will be moving in many directions through this hub.  The enormous central atrium will serve as a single entry point for all arriving and departing passengers as well as visitors to the airport.  From this central core they will then move in different directions into the various parts of the building and further into connections with other parts of the airport, depending on where they want to be.

We are dealing with several challenging dynamics in this design.  This is a highly complex environment and in addition, the whole precinct has to remain fully operational during the CTB construction process.”

The CTB will be completed in 3 phases.  Phase 1 is due for completion this year and Phases 2 and 3 will be completed by 2008.  The Central Terminal development has been brought forward by two years, to accommodate the World Soccer Cup in 2010 and will cost an estimated R1,7 billion.

The concept design, its development and the documentation of the CTB project is a joint venture between BAI and Siyakha Architects, BAI’s associated empowerment company.  “ACSA is committed to empowerment and the transfer of skills.  We therefore have an exceptionally large professional project team.  The CTB is not only a design challenge but also an opportunity to demonstrate BAI’s ability to interface and communicate effectively and efficiently at all levels,” comments Riley.

“In many ways airports are similar to retail centres.  I think BAI, in association with Siyakha Architects, are absolutely the right companies to be driving the design process on the CTB because of our understanding and extensive knowledge of commercial design.”

Last modified on Monday, 27 May 2013 17:05

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