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Terminal in a garden


The new Terminal 2 at Bengaluru’s Kempegpowda International Airport puts nature and biodiversity at the heart of the passenger experience, writes Andrew Haines, senior associate at Grant Associates.

The lush landascapes within its walls make Terminal 2 at Bengaluru Kempegowda International Airport one of the most unique and greenest airport buildings on the planet.

Indeed, India’s ‘Garden City’ airport wanted it this way with operator, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), promising that it would deliver an ‘airport terminal in a garden’ that would reinvent the idea of a traditionally stressful and bustling airport landscape.

The lead architect for the showpiece project was Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), with Grant Associates, designers of the iconic Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, in association with SOM, taking the lead on the green landscaping.

As a result, the new terminal at Bengaluru Kempegowda (BLR) is unlike any other in the world. Its innovative design offers passengers an immersive and authentic nature-focused experience, with the the flora throughout the complex meticulously sourced from diverse ecological habitats in the state of Karnataka and across India.

We believe that the chosen plants spread across the terminal’s interior help showcase the splendour of nature and Karnataka’s vibrant culture. Adding to the garden-like environment is the extensive use of natural materials including bamboo cladding and local natural stone.

Lush internal and external gardens punctuate the passenger’s journey, with the centrepiece being a breathtaking 10-metre-tall green wall that runs the length and breadth of the terminal adorned with over 450 extraordinary plant species.

The planting not only captivates the eye but also contributes to the terminal’s environmental conditioning, all nourished by an automated irrigation system fed by harvested rainwater.

Talking about Terminal 2 prior to its opening, BIAL’s managing director, Hari Marar, told Airport World that he wanted the terminal to be a leader in its use and adoption of new technology; have so many ‘green’ areas that it is viewed almost as a terminal in a garden; be known for its environmental and ecological stewardship; and be a facility that celebrates and showcases the rich heritage and culture of the Indian state of Karnataka.

Grant Associates was appointed by BIAL in May 2016 to deliver on this truly unique brief. The international landscape architecture practice had to creatively overcome several sizeable challenges to make the biodiversity-focused vision a reality, including how to create a lush internal landscape whilst accommodating the day to day running of an airport, not least passenger circulation and environmental requirements.

These were achieved through the extensive use of innovative hanging planters and green walls. Externally, these challenges included creating an extensive seven-hectare forest belt that would help to passive cool the spaces around the terminal, manage surface water runoff and deliver a rich, biodiverse forest microclimate.

The challenges were overcome with a dedicated client and design team working closely together to deliver key environmental, digital, and cultural themes that were central to the project’s vision.

A major aspect of the design was delivering a sustainable water management strategy to significantly reduce the terminal’s environmental impact, alongside a resilient native planting framework tailored for evolving climates. This included over 600 endemic plants and over 7,700 transplanted trees from the existing airport.

“The project vision set out an innovative reinvention of the terminal experience where nature takes centre stage and the landscape supports its ambitious sustainability goals,” enthused Andrew Grant, founder and director of Grant Associates.

“We wanted to create a truly memorable passenger experience that captured the spirit of the place and offers a unique and extraordinary garden journey.”

A focus was on delivering a project that would resonate with the city of Bengaluru, and this extended to local sourcing to help celebrate the essence of the city. Collaborations with regional fabricators and suppliers of natural materials such as clay brick and stone, for example, lent a distinct richness to the passenger experience while echoing the terminal’s sustainable ethos.

BIAL’s Marar said: “We wanted Terminal 2 to be a celebration of the beautiful city it would become a gateway to. Bengaluru has always been known as the Garden City of India, and our goal was to provide our city’s residents and visitors with an experience that feels like a stroll in a park.

“This is how the idea of ‘Terminal in a Garden’ became the most important of the four design principles of Terminal 2.

“Guided by this vision, we started working with Grant Associates and other partners to develop the design of a unique ‘Terminal in a garden’. Along the way, we have been able to expand on that vision and have been able to make this a biodiversity hub.

“Today the airport not only boasts of one of the widest varieties of plant life in one location, but also helps to conserve many rare, endangered and threatened species.

“By making it work in harmony with the other three design principles of celebrating local art and culture, sustainability, and cutting-edge technology, we have strived to create a terminal that offers passengers a truly memorable travel experience.”

BLR has already established a benchmark in sustainability with 100% usage of renewable energy across the campus. Terminal 2 was created with sustainability principles woven into the design.

“Traditionally, airports are always stressful to navigate, but with our ‘Airport Terminal in a Garden’ vision, we have sought to change this by creating a beautiful environment filled with incredible plants from around the world,” noted BIAL’s vice president of landscaping, Prasannamurthi Desai.

“This is the only airport in the world which holds 3,600 species – including almost 200 endangered species, which are part of the Indian ecosystem, native to 26 agro-climatic zones of India.”

Grant Associates worked alongside a dedicated team of sub-consultants on the design and delivery of this milestone landscape architecture project.

These included Singapore’s Nipek Pte Ltd (Lighting Consultant); Water Equipment Technology Pte Ltd, from Brisbane, Australia (Irrigation Consultants); and Fountains Direct Ltd in the UK (Water Feature Consultant).

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