Aluminium in desert

Amir Mann-Ami Shinar Architects and Moshe Zur Architects shared details of their design for the Ramon Airport building that looks like a futuristic desert mirage.

16 April, 2019
Located 12 miles away from the famous Israeli resort Eilat, the airport is expected to quickly become a "major game changer for local and international tourism" to Israel, Jordan and Egypt's Sinai desert.

The airport occupies 506 hectares of arid land, and is characterized by its bright faceted facades modelled on desert rock formations.

"In designing the airport we learned from the desert scenery. It required a vision of the most suitable design solution that responds to the existing landscape and climate," explained project design manager Amir Mann.

Images: Dezeen
"Our objective was how not to compete with the overwhelming emptiness of the site, while creating a place that welcomes passengers through the departure and arrival processes, reflecting through that experience the uniqueness of the desert environment, as a functioning international southern gate to Israel."

Ramon Airport comprises a 45,000-square-metre terminal building, alongside a 45-metre-high air-traffic control tower, 3,600 meters of runway and taxiway, and 40 aprons for parking aircraft. The new Ramon Airport will have an initial capacity for more than 1.8 million passengers a year, with room to grow significantly.

Images: Dezeen
All the buildings at the airport's territory are unified by the bright white panels that envelope the whole surface and are made from insulating aluminium. Amir Mann-Ami Shinar Architects and Moshe Zur Architects designed these panels and their combined form to resemble the mushroom-like rocks found in Israel's Timna Park, enabling the building to self-shade by reflecting light.

Inside the passenger terminal, the faceted shell is broken by glass curtain walls that mark the entrances and boarding areas, and frame views towards the runway and desert backdrop.

"Due to the heat, we did not use skylights in the design, which is a typical solution for allowing natural light into an airport terminal," says Mann. "Instead, we penetrated the space with two central patios, essentially bringing light to the building's core without overheating the space."

Images: Dezeen
Apart from that, the team raised the exterior cladding atop the building by roughly 15 to 20 centimeters to create a gap that allows air to more freely move over the structure and cool it down. "While aluminum panels help to reflect light away from the building, further reducing the building temperature."

An unusual feature of the airport is that most of the technical infrastructure is located dozens of feet below ground. This includes the parking area, baggage handling, security processes, and other technical operations. This opens the ground level for providing uninterrupted views of the dramatic desert expanse all around.

Banner image: Dezeen