Hamad International Airport Architecture
Written by Oryx
In our ongoing series, Oryx takes a walk through the groundbreaking Hamad International Airport. This month, we take a look at the mammoth design and construction phases of HIA.
Because so many people visiting Hamad International Airport will merely be transferring to other destinations, HIA may well be their only impression of Qatar, making it all too important that the airport leaves a spectacular lasting impression of the country.
In the design of the airport, emphasis was placed on Qatari hospitality and its Gulf-side location, particularly with respect to the main passenger terminal, where it was essential the architecture matched Qatar Airways’ dedication to a 5-star travel experience for its passengers. That Hamad International Airport is the first airport in the world designed by an airline is a fact that can be felt in every aspect of its development.
International design firm HOK began in 2004 coordinating architects, engineers, planners, landscape architects, and interior designers in an effort to create the world’s best passenger terminal on behalf of Qatar Airways. The result: a forward-looking facility boasting a 20,000 sq. m retail gallery, a 2,100 sq. m public mosque, two 100-room, transfer hotels, a health spa, a 3,431-car parking garage, five operations centres, four central utility plants, and a 69,000 sq. m flight catering facility.
HOK president Bill Hellmuth, AIA, says the signature 18m canopy overhang of the terminal’s undulating roof creates a grand entrance and provides significant solar shading to the most exposed portions of the façade.
“The glazed façades also provide great views of the airfield and adjacent Arabian Gulf,” Hellmuth explains.
In designing the retail aspect of the main terminal, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker says, "The concept that we have is not really of a traditional duty free, but of an entirely new retail experience for travellers."
The result is 25,000 sq. m of prime retail space that establishes HIA as a prestigious shopping destination in its own right, as well as 15,000 sq. m of cafés and restaurants offering a wealth of choices that have been driven by extensive passenger research, and that includes tailor-made outlets.
Qatar Museums Authority was also involved in the development of HIA, providing keen insight as to the integration of multiple elements of the airport so as to create not only an iconic piece of architecture, but also a space where art and architecture merge to create a unique passenger experience.
In conjunction with Lea+Elliott, HOK also designed a 700m-long internal automated people mover (APM) system, which is accessible on the second level of Concourse C. The APM links the terminal’s north and south sides and is the only airport rail system in the world that is completely inside a concourse.
The aquatic-themed public mosque’s design was inspired by water droplets, yielding a majestic 50m-diameter glass shell with a gently domed roof that houses a 36m-high minaret, adorned by hundreds of thousands of LED lights, and that can hold 500 worshippers.
HIA’s Emiri terminal provides an elegant gateway for the Royal Family, high government officials, and visiting dignitaries to Qatar. Ceremonial in style, its design required the development of special construction techniques and custom-built rigs to overcome the installation challenges inherent in the construction and installation of precast concrete panels weighing 3–5 tonnes. Inspired by dhow sailing ships, the Emiri terminal spans 16,000 sq. m.
Development included fabrication and erection of 1,200 tonnes of various structural steelworks for the exterior and interior of the main terminal, encompassing the main passenger terminal, concourses, parking structures, the public mosque and plaza, a central utility plant, and access roadways.
The dazzling architecture is not only for passengers, as arriving pilots’ first sight of the airport is a 90m-high, symbolically crescent-shaped air traffic control tower that welcomes them to the Gulf, merging into Doha’s soaring skyline.
HIA also incorporates one of the world’s largest free-span hangars, which can accommodate the largest and most advanced aircraft – up to 13 aircraft of different configurations, including five wide-body aircraft simultaneously.
“I think when you put everything together, there will be no other airport of such a high standard,” says Al Baker.
Qatar Airways, world’s 5-star airline, flies to more than 130 destinations worldwide.