India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan, Singh has inaugurated Mumbai’s US$890 million airport development, which boasts a culturally significant design.

Skidmore, Ownings & Merrill (SOM) are responsible for the heritage-inspired design of GVK Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) Terminal 2, which now combines international and domestic passenger services in one 4.4 million square foot space.

According to SOM, the airport now has the ability to accommodate 40 million passengers per year and has reduced passenger walking distances due to its fluid design.

Terminal 2 is a four-storey terminal that stands as a grand headhouse or central processing podium atop modular concourses on the lower floor. Each floor features “interconnecting light slots” which enable natural light to penetrate to the lower floors to the building.

Peacock Inspired Architecture

Peacock-inspired architecture

The roof of the headhouse extends outward, covering the entire arrivals roadway to protect passengers from the tropical heat and possible monsoon weather. Additionally, Terminal 2 uses a high-performance glazing system to achieve optimal thermal performance and mitigate glare.

The building also features extensive daylight control thanks to the perforated metal panels on the terminal’s curtain wall, while skylights are strategically placed throughout the check-in hall will to the terminal’s energy usage by 23 per cent.

The airport is home to the world’s longest cable-stayed wall, a transparent façade spanning 50 feet which creates a light-filled space and allows “well-wishers who must remain outside of the terminal due to Indian aviation regulations to watch as their friends and families depart,” according to SOM.

The interior features an abundance of greenery, retail and dining beside floor-to-ceiling windows, enabling passengers to watch planes arriving and departing as they await their flights.

SOM describes the project design as intuitive, with a design which blends modern facilities with traditional design elements in response to the city’s rocketing growth.

For example, wide drop-off points inside the entrance have been implemented for customary Indian departure ceremonies, while structurally, the form of Terminal 2 has been inspired by traditional Indian pavilions.

Inside, interior courtyards of traditional regional architecture are featured, along with a “constellation of colours” which reference the peacock, the national bird of India and the airport’s symbol.

There are also culturally-based fixtures and design elements including mosaic work and custom chandeliers inspired by the lotus flower along with a multi-storey Art Wall spanning up to three kilometres.

“We designed an airport that is intimately connected to its surroundings,” explained SOM design partner Roger Duffy, FAIAI. “By subtly incorporating regional patterns and textures at all scales, Terminal 2 resonates with a sense of place and serves a spectacular symbol for India and Mumbai.”

According to its website, SOM has completed more than 22 airport projects, including Changi International Airport – Terminal 3, Hong Kong International Airport – Terminal 2 and Skyplaza, along with San Francisco International Airport.

Three Kilometre Long Art Wall

Three-kilometre long Art Wall

Many of these urban projects were also designed to be iconic within their cities with designs that reflect the cities’ growth, society’s sustainable expectations and spaces that engage and drive commercial and economic opportunities.

SOM sees CSIA as both a historical showpiece for the country of India as well as a space that sets a benchmark for sustainable, modern airport design.