THE EXPERIENCE OF ARRIVING BY LAND IS OF GREAT SENSORY RICHNESS. FIRST, ONE SEES THE AIRPORT CITY WITH A LOW PROFILE AND A HIGH-DENSITY URBAN FABRIC. IT IS STRICTLY PEDESTRIAN AND CONNECTED VISUALLY TO THE GREAT JARDIN THAT CONNECTS TO THE AIRPORT THROUGH THE CENTRAL CAUSEWAY AND INTERCONNECTED PLACES, CHANNELS, PATIOS, AND PATHS.
The experience of arriving by land is of great sensory richness. First, one sees the airport city with a low profile and a high-density urban fabric. It is strictly pedestrian and connected visually to the great Jardin that connects to the airport through the Central Causeway and interconnected places, channels, patios, and paths. Next, one sees the scenic route to the Terminal via the Great Access Way – a vehicle corridor surrounded by vegetation that reconstructs the image of the intact Lake Texcoco. The users of the airport will be able to witness the broad landscape of transitions between forests, grasslands and bodies of water – both temporary and permanent – that mirrors the blue sky that will be home and shelter to diverse species of flora and fauna. Third, those arriving will see the opening of perspectives on the approach to the great lake and the subtle change of elevation in the approach to the terminal. In this airport, the square articulates the circulations of arrival and exit. Finally, the passenger enters the grand entrance to the Terminal under the modular membrane – a large container that embraces everything from The Great Lake to The Plaza, The Parking Lot, The Regional Train Station, Vehicle Access Platforms, and access lobbies. Inside, the terminal is transparent and connects visually with the calm and beauty of the exterior landscape through the introduction of vegetation and water. The boundaries between the inside and outside vanish.
The design is based on a light steel frame covered by a textile structure made of two layers of PTFE and a nanogel filled polycarbonate interlayer. This “Umbrella” is a prefabricated element which is instrumental not only in reducing the time of construction, but also has two key sustainable features. It filters the light in for 90% of the day reducing dependence on artificial light and collects rainwater to supply the airport and mechanical demand.
The scale of the building as well as the soil conditions made a modular solution ideal. This was dues in part to the way in which a modular structure could be repeated throughout, tailored to different programs, adjusted in height, and used to break down the immense scale of the project. At the same time, by defining the module as a column supporting a roof structure radiating from the central point of support, the module would contribute to an even distribution of the structural load. This was important because it would reduce the need to drive significantly deep piles and also the need to displace significant amount of dirt. This was a lesson learned when preparing to build the Diablos Rojos Baseball Stadium nearby.
THE CANOPY ITSELF IS TRIPLE LAYER. THE UNDERLAYER IS PERFORATED ETFE AND IS MORE TRANSPARENT. IN-BETWEEN IS POLYCARBONATE FOR THERMAL AND ACOUSTIC PERFORMANCE. THE OUTER LAYER IS PTFE. ACOUSTICALLY IT IS VERY EFFICIENT WHILE ALSO ALLOWING FOR 5% OF DAYLIGHT TRANSMISSION.
The foundation of the modular system is a box defined by a grid of 3 M tall beams. The foundation concept is based on an aircraft carrier. 3 M of soil are removed and replaced with the foundation to replace the weight. 1 column supports the structure. It provides energy and collects water that is transferred to a cistern. It was also intended to bring air into the space from a geothermal system. The lighting and all the wiring are also integrated. It reflects the idea that a component can do more than one thing. The column then connects to the cruciform structure that is 36M x 36M. The strategy was to create a very rigid frame via flat structural plate. The question then became how to embed cables in the fabric to create a stable roof plane.
The canopy itself is triple layer. The underlayer is perforated ETFE and is more transparent. In-between is polycarbonate for thermal and acoustic performance. The outer layer is PTFE. Acoustically it is very efficient while also allowing for 5% of daylight transmission. This is further supported by the south-facing orientation of the site. This is enough to keep the lights of the public space off throughout the day. It will ultimately be naturally illuminated 80% of the time. This will have a huge impact on energy consumption. The umbrella form defines the broader airport from the drop off to check in, retail, and boarding gates. The delta shaped emerged from considering where it made sense for people to spend the most time.