Since its opening in the 1950’s, Zurich Airport has become one of the most important aviation hubs in Europe. Following the airport’s previous additions of Dock E, the Airside Center, and The Circle, an international two-stage design competition was kicked off in 2020 to replace the aging Dock A and included proposals from Foster + Partners, Grimshaw Architects, and SOM. Expected to open in 10 years, the new Dock A- which includes Schengen and Non-Schengen gates, airside retail, lounges, offices, the new air traffic control tower, and an extension of the immigration hall – will be the next milestone in the airport's expansion.
"The 'Raumfachwerk' proposal was the most convincing from a sustainable, operational, and economic point of view, but also from an urban planning and architectural point of view" says Andreas Schmid, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Flughafen Zürich AG.
Based on the Team’s concept of the ‘Raumfachwerk’ – a robust yet flexible structural framework - the design proposal celebrates the passenger experience and movement through the airport. Located adjacent to the existing Airside Center and Terminal 1, the new Dock A is defined by two main areas: the central hub with shopping, airport services for arriving and departing passengers and vertical circulation, and the pier with the gates, waiting areas and the fixed links connecting to the planes.
“As airports grow and evolve and as international guidelines and safety requirements change, airports tend to become more and more complex: Frankensteins of interconnected elements, patches and extensions. For the new main terminal of Zurich Airport, we have attempted to answer this complex challenge with the simplest possible response: A mass timber space frame that is structural design, spatial experience, architectural finish, and organizational principle in one. The striking structure is made from locally sourced timber, and the long sculptural body of the roof is entirely clad in solar shingles turning sunlight into a power source. A simple yet expressive design – rooted in tradition and committed to innovation - embodying the cultural and natural elements of Swiss architecture.” Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Creative Director, BIG.
To enhance the passenger experience, the spaces within the new terminal use daylight as a natural wayfinding system. A linear skylight - created by the unfolding roof of the pier - widens toward the central hub and opens up into the atrium where all departing, arriving, and transferring passengers meet. By placing the control tower in its center, the tower is experienced from the inside as a beacon that creates a sense of place, akin to a town square rather than an airport.