Tall Timber for Airport Terminals

Tall Timber for Airport Terminals

State-owned Airports of Thailand announced that the winners of the design competition were Thai architectural firm Duangrit Bunnag and Japan’s Nikken Sekkei. The winning team decided that it wanted to avoid white, metallic contours and to produce something memorable, distinctive, warm and distinctly Thai.

Two modular buildings will be held up by dramatic timber columns that extend to the roof in a grid-like structure that will give arrivals the feeling of standing under an indigenous forest canopy.

An enclosed tropical rainforest will sit between the terminal buildings. In a statement symbolising ecological protection, visitors will be able to see the forest through a glass curtainwall but not enter it. Apart from its environmental echoes and dramatic use of wood, Terminal 2 also reflects the growing influence of Japanese design in Thailand.





The winning design was immediately criticised by the Engineering Institute of Thailand for placing aesthetic considerations above fire safety. The design team has responded that fire protection has been specifically addressed and that the new terminal’s timber surfaces will be coated with treatments to ensure safety.

A tourism boom is straining Thailand’s infrastructure and the new terminal is badly needed. The current airport was designed for 45 million passengers a year, but is currently receiving 60 million people, leading to lengthy immigration waiting times and other service constraints.

The additional capacity will allow Suvarnabhumi International Airport to cope with an additional 30 million passengers each year. Terminal 2 will host 12 million domestic visitors and 18 million international tourists. Facilities include fourteen airport aprons and space for 1,000 cars. Construction is due to start next year, with the completion date set for 2021.

With Thai firms collaborating with international partners more regularly, you can expect to see more exciting building projects rising above the sprawl of Bangkok in years to come.