A futuristic terminal will soon touch down at the Incheon Airport in South Korea. Terminal 2 will boost the airport’s size to 7 million square feet while increasing capacity for both passengers and cargo, just in time for the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
The new departure halls of Incheon’s Terminal 2, designed by Gensler in collaboration with the Heerim-Mooyoung-Gensler-Yungdo (HMGY) Consortium, will serve as final destinations unto themselves, with premier retail outlets peppering the departure concourses. Visions of airports have developed over the years to a point where “the airport city is not just an aviation infrastructure serving the community,” says Gensler principal Keith Thompson. “It’s not just providing retail and commercial opportunities for passengers, but [it] ties local commercial interests to the airport.” The Louis Vuitton store at Incheon’s Terminal 1 takes in more than $400,000 per day, and Terminal 2’s retail-driven design aims to capitalize on the trend; with destination shopping becoming more and more popular, the idea of hopping on a plane to have a retail experience upon arrival seems less obscure, especially if those commercial enterprises are centralized within the airport.
Plans for the new terminal, although not as radical as a recent drive-through scheme or Gensler’s own floating airport proposal, include lush indoor gardens—over two football fields’ worth of green space are spread throughout the terminal—as well as a hotel, spa, and performance spaces. The terminal’s roof, supported by 110-meter freespan trusses, each 10-15 meters deep in their chords, will filter in natural light throughout the day, with opacity modulated such that the inner surface of the roof has a translucency similar to that of Hanji paper.
The airport, built upon reclaimed land that filled the gap between two islands off the coast just west of Seoul, already serves an estimated 44 million passengers per year. Although the foundations for the new terminal won’t be laid until January 2013, already the Incheon airport anticipates an increase in passenger capacity to over 66 million people per year. Incheon was mentioned in the 2011 book, Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next, as a “textbook aerotropolis.” However, according to design director Terence Young, AIA, “What Aerotropolis postulates is this idea of airports and cities becoming a singular entity from a planning standpoint, and the reality is that the opposite is true: Airports are becoming cities.”
The new Terminal expects to open in 2017, and hopes to achieve a LEED Platinum rating.