Super-light engineering and modular concrete domes allow for future expansion
Norman Foster’s design for Stansted, completed in 1991, introduced a new paradigm to the airport typology. The single-storey building pared back complexities to allow as rapid a progression as possible from the entrance to the plane, eliminating level changes and services (including baggage handling), which were hidden in the basement. Foster has continued to extend this type around the world ever since. Queen Alia International Airport in Amman introduces a new and seemingly counterintuitive element: concrete.
While vast roofs had hitherto been the star of the show, with all the pyrotechnics of the architecture concentrated in displays of super-light engineering, the desert context indicated a different approach. The roof is composed of modular concrete domes, which allows for the expansion of the building with a potential to increase capacity from 3.5 million passengers per annum on opening to 12 million by 2030. The high thermal mass of concrete naturally absorbs heat during the day, and releases it at night, when the desert cools.
Queen alia international airport plan drawing by foster + partners