Ankara Airport’s New Terminal

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Ankara Airport (Esenboga). View of the departure hall. All photos by Nicolai Steinø

Going home from Ankara last month, I had the pleasure of flying out from the newly opened terminal building. Despite the fact that Ankara is the capital of a country of over 70 million people, the old terminal was not much more than a bus shelter. A new terminal was therefore highly needed.

The overall layout of the new terminal building is quite clear. A long and slightly curved departure hall with national and international departures at either end dominates the building. An interesting feature of the building is, that the transit area is divided from the departure hall, not by walls or glass panels as in most airports, but by a broad water pool.

The departure hall is also visually connected to the arrivals hall below by large cut-outs in the decks at the center of the building as well as above the exits of the departure hall. This allows for partial natural lighting in the otherwise dark arrivals hall. Furthermore, the inside of the building is visually connected to the exterior on all sides. Therefore, the terminal is very easy to overlook – something which is quite an achievement.

Unfortunately, the building features an excess of curved elements – beams, panels, cut-outs, and more – which tends to blur the simplicity of it’s overall layout. The curves are not allways too successfully maufactured; it’s difficult to cut curves in bended plasterboards and still make it look nice.

And then there is this bizarre mixture of high and low quality materials which is typical for so many generic spaces like transport hubs and shopping malls: Granite floors and plasterboard walls, or sandstone columns and aluminium fillets…

All in all it’s not a bad achievement however, and I think that the building design reaches above the international average in airport terminal design. Unfortunately, so does the price of the cappuccinos.

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A large indoor pool separates the transit area from the departure hall

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An oval-shaped departure board with insistingly rectangular displays is hard to swallow if not as a tribute to Saarinen’s Terminal 5 at JFK Airport, New York (any further comparison unmentioned).

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