The visual symbolism of the new Wrocław airport is straightforward and easy to decipher: it is a function that has an obvious association with flying – flying with wings and their gentle and highly coordinated movements. This movement is expressed by the shape of thirteen separate wave-like roof sections. The whole structure, moving in two opposite directions, extends beyond the vertical outline of the building, and rises and descends in a somewhat irregular rhythm. In this way it brings character to the building at the same time as providing covered entrance areas and gives a lightness and a beauty to the outside of the building which is lacking in other buildings of this type. This is particularly visible from a distance as the perspective changes, as seen for example from a vehicle travelling from the city and then circling the enormous open area in front of the airport.
MPL Passenger Terminal
MPL Passenger Terminal
There is no doubt that the EURO 2012 Football Championships greatly accelerated infrastructural investment in Poland. The country wanted to improve its transport infrastructure in every possible area: road, rail, and air. A number of new motorways, express roads and ring roads were built, improvements were made to railway lines and stations and some new airports were constructed. The airport in Wrocław is one of these: it was designed by the Polish branch of the German architects JSK Architekten, working together with Altro Projekt as the designers of the façade. The new design replaced the old-fashioned and cramped terminal constructed in the early 1990s.
This structure, which in effect is a new airport, is a highly rational building constructed almost exclusively using ninety-degree angles and 15-metre modular sections. The external structure, which is tall, glazed, and crowned by an irregular steel roof, measures about 200 x 80 metres and can be extended at the sides. This simply provides a watertight covering for all the elements required for the functioning of the airport and which are laid out inside the building on several levels. Neither the open public spaces nor the smaller areas that are grouped together reach the roof, which appears to flow over the smaller volumes suspended inside. Its thirteen wave-like sections join in the middle and then separate and in this way create slits that become windows providing additional light for the spaces below. The architects organised the functioning of the building in a linear manner, greeting people arriving from the city with an entrance area that goes right up to the winglike roof sections and extends the entire length of the building, while the last that departing passengers see of the structure is a building on many levels that includes controlled areas inside it. On top, there is a public terrace for friends and family. The most spectacular space in the whole building is the area that greets passengers when they arrive. This is covered by the roof which appears to bend in different directions and is supported on ‘V’ shaped steel pillars, adorned with tall plants and, most importantly, it provides comfortable access to every function that is required to serve departing or arriving passengers.
Smoke evacuation windows
Everything is finished in high-quality materials, including granite, clear and frosted glass, stainless steel and sheets covered in wood veneers – and bathed in light entering through the entire glazed facade. The statistics are impressive: 11,500 m2 of glass with the highest possible parameters for transparency and thermal insulation were imported from Germany. The whole was installed in a transom and mullion construction system where the mullions are set 3.75 m apart, the transoms are 1.750 m apart and both profiles were produced in a non-standard 65 mm visible width. The glass sheets were inserted into this frame. Typically, each glass panel weighed 310 kg. CS 77 inward opening windows that had been laboratory tested earlier were inserted in a number of locations in order to provide ventilation for the main airport area. The dimensions of the opening windows were the same as a typical glass section. The whole aluminium construction of the elevation was fixed to the steel construction of the terminal building using aluminium brackets.
The new terminal certainly provides a dignified expression for the ambitions of Wrocław, which was one of the four host cities for EURO 2012, the European City of Culture in 2016 and a runner-up for the global EXPO. It has also satisfied the ever-increasing travel requirements of Polish people, as a comfortable airport not just for international and national carriers, but also for the highly popular low-cost airlines. With its excellent connections with Wrocław city centre, it will underline the importance of this city on the European aviation map.
- BREEAM ‘very good’ label for sustainable buildings
- Combination of CW 50 and CW 60 relative to specific load requirements
- Windows: ES 50, CS 68
- Doors: Vision 50
- Bespoke mullion cap with a depth of 405 mm
- Bespoke capping to create flush look of the aluminium panels with the curtain wall cap profiles
- A gap was included underneath the bespoke capping to assist with the cleaning strategy of the building
- Wind loads on the project of up to 2000 N/m²
Various glass sizes:
- 2665 mm x 1300 mm
- 2110 mm x 2385 mm
- 3200 mm x 1650 mm