Foster + Partners’ Queen Alia airport opens in Jordan


Queen Alia International Airport, the new gateway to Amman designed by Foster + Partners, has officially opened.

The architect’s modular solution allows for future expansion, growing by 6% per annum for the next 25 years, increasing capacity from 3.5 million to 12 million passengers per annum by 2030.

Mouzhan Majidi, chief executive, Foster + Partners, added: “The new terminal building is energy efficient, will accommodate phased expansion and provides a dynamic symbol for Jordan.


“Our early involvement from the conceptual design stage, supporting the selection of operators, and through detailed design and work on site has involved many of our specialist in-house teams, from architects to climate analysts, space planners and geometry specialists.”

In response to Amman’s climate, where summer temperatures vary markedly between day and night time, the building is constructed largely from concrete, the high thermal mass of the material providing passive environmental control.

The tessellated roof canopy comprises a series of shallow concrete domes, which extend to shade the facades – each dome provided a modular unit for construction.

Domes branch out from the supporting columns like the leaves of a desert palm and daylight floods the concourse through split beams at the column junctions.

Echoing the veins of a leaf, a geometric pattern based on traditional Islamic forms is applied to each exposed soffit. The complex geometry of the roof shells and fabrication strategy was developed in conjunction with Foster + Partners in-house geometry specialists.

Two piers of departure gates run along either side of the central building, which contains the main processing areas and shops, lounges and restaurants.

Between these volumes, open-air courtyards – mimicking the vernacular architecture in the region – contribute to the terminal’s environmental strategy: the plants and trees help to filter pollution and pre-condition the air before it is drawn into the air handling system and reflecting pools bounce indirect natural light into the airport.

The terminal is glazed on all sides to allow views of the aircraft on the apron and to aid orientation.

Horizontal louvres shade the facades from direct sunlight – to eliminate glare, the louvres become concentrated in more exposed areas close to the columns. The concrete structure incorporates local gravel to reduce maintenance requirements and the embodied energy of the material, and to harmonise with the natural shades of local sand.

The design of the domed roof echoes the black flowing fabric of a Bedouin tent.

The forecourt has been enlarged to create a landscaped plaza with seating, shaded by trees, where people can gather to bid farewell or welcome returning travellers.

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