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Foster + Partners Wins Competition to Design Airport Terminal in Abha

Inspired by Rijal Almaa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the reimagined terminal will speak Aseer’s design vernacular.

Karim Abdullatif

Foster + Partners Wins Competition to Design Airport Terminal in Abha

Tucked within the staggering peaks of Saudi Arabia’s Aseer Province, Abha is set to receive a new architectural landmark. London-based Foster + Partners has won a design competition for a new terminal at Abha Airport with a proposal that creates a cluster of stone buildings inspired by a local village.

Drawing from the historic village of Rijal Almaa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its mud-brick architecture, Foster + Partners’s design will feature interconnected buildings that reflect the local design vernacular of Aseer’s capital city.

“This is a complete reinvention of the airport as we know it, with an emphasis on traditional Aseeri details, local materials and terraced landscaping,” Stefan Behling, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners, tells SceneHome. “It’s both a celebration of - and an introduction to - the beauty of the Aseer Region.”

Arranged between the drop off zone and the apron, the clusters will allow the new terminal to completely break away from conventional airport design. Rather than your usual large airport terminal, the design introduces a village-like experience that aims to bring passengers through a stress-free environment.

Stone buildings of different heights will be linked by open-air courtyards and stone-paved walkways. The design’s emphasis on natural elements extends to include natural ventilation, lighting and greenery.

“Learning from the materiality of the nearby village, rough stone facades contrast with a more colourful and refined interior palette,” Nikolai Malsch, Senior Partner at Foster + Partners, says. “This anchors the scheme within its context and creates a distinctive gateway to the Aseer region.”

By blurring the borders between indoor and outdoor spaces, the winning proposal promotes a sense of tranquillity and sets a new benchmark for airport design. The boarding lounge will boast decorative features, including pink floor tiles and wooden lattices, with roof openings drawing daylight into the space.

Images Credit: Foster + Partners


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