Regardless of whether we believe that Foster + Partners‘ numerous commercial buildings are truly sustainable, there is no denying that the firm has a huge influence on how architecture in the Middle East is shaping up. By employing a unique fusion of ancient building techniques and high-budget modern interventions in buildings such as Masdar City’s iconic red “spaceships,” a beautiful bank in Morocco, and Lebanon’s first green-roof tower, Norman Foster has carved out a niche that no other architectural firm has been able to match. Now the company has unveiled plans for their latest project: a massive solar-powered international airport for Kuwait.
Intended to mimic the swooping form of the traditional dhow sailboat, three mile-long wings will extend from a giant, 82 foot tall dome. This central space receives plenty of natural light from floor to ceiling glazed windows that are shaded by overhangs that prevent unwanted solar gain.
Clad in photovoltaic panels that absorb the ubiquitous desert sun, the roof will provide the airport with sufficient energy to keep it running despite its remote location. Although the project will strive for LEED Gold, concrete – with its high embodied footprint – has been chosen as the main building material given its high thermal massing, which will keep the building cool regardless of external temperatures. This in turn keeps energy requirements to a relative minimum.
Utilizing only native species that require very little water to maintain, a landscaped entrance will give the airport a sense of welcome to roughly 13 million annual visitors.
As plans unfold for the Kuwait International Airport, Foster + Partners is striving for LEED Gold certification – a voluntary American building standard that encourages the most sustainable building practices. Everything from choosing an appropriate site and local building materials to the overall energy and water performance is taken into consideration. Critics claim that these kinds of standards do not do enough to offset environmental damages caused by construction works worldwide, and that instead we ought to strive to create a positive impact instead – something that is well within reach.
Although there is no sense of when this building will be complete, when it is, it will be the world’s very first LEED Gold passenger terminal.
More Foster + Partners Projects in the Middle East:
images courtesy of Foster + Partners