Excitement is building around the development of Phnom Penh’s new Techo International Airport, 20 kilometres south of the Cambodian city’s centre, and set to be operational by 2025.
Harmonious and in-keeping
The design by British “starchitect” firm, Foster + Partners, draws inspiration from Cambodia’s own architectural language, as well as from its native plants, climate and natural materials. A central headquarters will house the main passenger hub and retail, with soaring wing-like flanks either side to provide the departure and arrival terminals. The whole is unified and harmonised by a vaulted steel roof structure that creates the impression of an impressive tree canopy.
Inspired by Cambodia’s history and built heritage, the terminal’s design stands as a modern embodiment of Cambodian culture.Nikolai Malsch, Senior Partner, Foster + Partners
Dense vegetation and native planting inside and out brings together interior and exterior spaces, as well as softening the impressive scale of the building. Borrowing from Le Corbusier’s principles of human scale, any lingering sense of a vast, inhuman monolith is broken up by tree-trunk-like pillars and the ability to see all the way through the airport and therefore better understand its layout and how to navigate it.
Limited level changes too, mean that the public can easily move through the airport without constantly being faced with stairs and elevators – an approach previously employed by Foster + Partners in the UK’s Stansted Airport, to the northeast of London.
Step-by-step to 50 million passengers?
The airport is now under construction, with the master plan followed and completed phase by phase. The first stage, including the terminal head and the side piers, will allow a throughput of 13 million passengers per year. The addition of a further wing will boost the airport’s capacity to up to 30 million passengers per year, with sights set on an eventual 50 million passengers.
The Phnom Penh project joins forces to boost Cambodia’s tourist offer, with a new airport for capital Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, further away from the ancient temple complex which it is feared was being damaged by the old hub’s proximity.
Foster + Partners
Foster + Partners was founded in 1967 by Sir Norman Foster and is responsible for some of the world’s most iconic and beloved buildings such as London’s Gherkin and the British Musuem’s Great Court, the Millau Viaduct across France’s Tarn Gorge, Berlin’s Reichstag, and Sydney’s Deutsche Bank building.
The firm has also carved out a name for itself as airport designers extraordinaire, with a long list of transportation hubs among its achievements, from Bilbao to Beijing, and Hong Kong to Heathrow’s Terminal 5. One of their signature stylings is the inclusion of immense vaulted and tessellating roof structures – seen again in Phnom Penh.