Futuristic new airport for Mexico City

4 September 2014
By Edd Gent
Mobile version
Share |
The 555,000 square metre terminal building will be entirely enclosed within a continuous lightweight gridshell

The 555,000 square metre terminal building will be entirely enclosed within a continuous lightweight gridshell

A futuristic new airport designed by a British architect will ease delays and boost capacity in Mexico’s capital after gaining approval from the government.

The new six-runway project has been designed by Norman Foster, the brains behind the new Wembley Stadium and the Gherkin, and Fernando Romero, a son-in-law of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, and will be built next to the Benito Juarez International Airport on the eastern flank of Mexico City, where the government already owns land.

The X-shaped design with arching spans of 100m and more, three times that of a conventional airport, according to Foster, will cost a total of 120bn pesos (£5.57bn) in public and private funding and is intended to be the world’s most sustainable airport.

"This airport is the first of its kind in the world," Foster said while showcasing the design at the Presidential Palace in Mexico City. "It doesn't have a conventional roof. It doesn't have vertical walls. It doesn't have columns in the normal sense."

The airport will consist of a single terminal – entirely enclosed within a continuous lightweight gridshell – which uses less materials and energy than a cluster of buildings and ensures short walking distances, few level changes and no need for internal trains or underground tunnels.

The lightweight glass and steel structure and soaring vaulted roof are designed for Mexico City’s challenging soil conditions, according to Foster, which include frequent earthquakes and the fact that the capital lies on a lake bed.

Foster + Wheeler's design for a new airport in Mexico City

A pre-fabrication system will be used to speed up design and remove the need for scaffolding and by servicing the entire building from beneath the roof will be free from ducts and pipes. The structure will be capable of harnessing the power of the sun, collecting rainwater and ventilating the building using displacement ventilation principles.

The airport will initially have three runways, but an expansion plan up to 2062 will see an eventual six runways installed and the government ultimately hopes to boost capacity to 120 million passengers a year within 50 years.

Telecoms and Transport Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said he expected construction to start in mid-2015, adding that the government is in negotiations with US engineering firm Parsons to take on the role of construction manager. He added that the current airport would eventually close, with the land being used for university buildings and cargo.

Mexico's government will finance the first stage of the new airport and aims to issue up to 30-year bonds to finance later stages, a senior project official said. Factoring in projects including construction management and water-related issues on the site will raise the overall cost of the airport to 169bn pesos (£7.84bn).

The project follows an abortive bid to build a new airport near the chosen site under former President Vicente Fox. That effort met with violent protests in which demonstrators armed with machetes and Molotov cocktails took 19 officials hostage after the government initially offered locals around 70 cents per square meter for land. It was cancelled in 2002.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Control System Engineer

    United Utilities
    • Lancaster, Lancashire
    • Up to £33415 + Comprehensive Benefits

    Provide ICA maintenance and engineering support to the Water & Wastewater Production

    • Recruiter: United Utilities

    Apply for this job

  • Signal Processing Engineer

    B&W Group
    • Steyning, West Sussex
    • Competitive Salary

    We are looking for a Signal Processing Engineer to support the R&D process on active loudspeaker products.

    • Recruiter: B&W Group

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

    De Montfort University
    • Leicestershire
    • Grade G: £36,672 - £46,414 per annum

    Join the Projects Team to develop and manage medium to large projects on the university estate.

    • Recruiter: De Montfort University

    Apply for this job

  • Advanced Commissioning Engineer

    National Grid
    • Nottinghamshire, Nottingham, England
    • £46000 - £57000 per year

    National Grid is at the heart of energy in the UK. The electricity we provide gets the nation to work, powers schools and lights everyone's way home. Our energy network connects the nation, so it's essential that it's continually evolving, advancing and i

    • Recruiter: National Grid

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Design Engineer

    Oxford Instruments
    • Yatton, Bristol
    • Competitive salary plus excellent benefits

    We are looking for an electrical designer to join our engineering design team.

    • Recruiter: Oxford Instruments

    Apply for this job

  • Skilled Electrical Fitter

    MBDA
    • Bolton
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   The Electrical Fitter will carry out manufacturing and test tasks within the electrical department in accordance with product certification procedures, defined workmanship  ...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Manufacturing Technician

    MBDA
    • Stevenage
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   As a qualified craftsman with experience in electrical manufacturing, the Manufacturing Technician will report to a Team Leader, receiving day to day ...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Consultant Engineer (Electrical Power)

    BAE Systems
    • Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness, England
    • Negotiable

    Consultant Engineer (Electrical Power) Would you like to play a key role in providing technical direction to the design of power systems on the Successor class submarines, which will replace the current Trident-equipped Vanguard class, currently in servic

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Supply Restoration Team Manager (HV/SAP)

    SSE
    • Oxford, Oxfordshire
    • Salary: £37,588 to £49,645 + Car (SSE8) Depending on skills and experience

    SSE is looking to recruit a Supply Restoration Team Manager to join our existing team in Oxford.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Technical Lead - Global Operations, Engineering & Laboratory

    Pfizer Ltd
    • Kent

    An exciting opportunity has arisen to join a dynamic team of professional engineers, supporting the development of novel drugs.

    • Recruiter: Pfizer Ltd

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T