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Incheon Airport Expansion Now Under Way

Aerial view rendering of the new Incheon International Airport when completed in 2017
When complete in 2017, the new terminal will double the number of gates at the busy airport. © Heerim-Mooyoung-Gensler-Yungdo

 A new terminal project at the international airport outside of Seoul, South Korea, will dramatically increase the facility’s size and capacity by 2017.

January 8, 2013—A dramatic expansion of the Incheon International Airport (IIA), 48 mi west of Seoul, South Korea, is under way. When completed in 2017, the airport will have doubled in size, adding a second 72-gate terminal on the reclaimed land mass that now links Yeongjong and Yongyu islands in the Yellow Sea.

In 2011, the HMGY Consortium—Heerim Architects, Seoul; Mooyoung Architects and Engineers, Seoul; Gensler, Los Angeles; and the structural engineering firm Yungdo, South Korea—won a two-phase competition comprising nine teams to design the project. The terminal will make extensive use of sustainable features—including solar voltaic panels, wind turbines, and a water collection and storage system—to minimize energy consumption at the large facility.

“We have learned that these buildings are resource and energy hogs, requiring massive amounts of energy to light, cool, and operate the equipment—as well as service aircraft in a timely fashion,” said Terence Young, AIA, a design director at Gensler, in written comments to Civil Engineering online. “Every effort has been made to utilize current technology to reduce the energy consumption, conserve natural resources, and minimize negative environmental impacts.”

The building was designed to make efficient and widespread use of natural light to reduce electricity demands. A key element is a large standing seam roof system over portions of the structure, penetrated by a series of conventional skylights. Light from these skylights is augmented by bright white surfaces and diffused via a series of overlapping diamond-shaped perforated metal panels.

“Combining the perforations with the bright white color, the interior of the ceiling plenum will bounce and amplify light which is then transmitted through the ceiling perforations,” Young said. 

 Interior rendering of the new terminal which will feature an abundant of natural light

The new terminal features abundant natural light and extensive
environmental features that the design team integrated into places
of prominence early in the design rather than tucking into “leftover”
spaces at the end. © Heerim-Mooyoung-Gensler-Yungdo

The building will utilize photovoltaic panels and wind turbines to provide some of the facility’s energy requirements. Massive reservoirs beneath the basement will store water to use for cooling and nonpotable water requirements.

“Incheon is a gateway to Korea and an aviation connection between Asia and the world,” Young said. “The design is a meditation on creating a Korean passenger experience. Terminal 2 creates a narrative experience [that] ties together the architectural [with the] innovations of Korean engineering, while getting inspiration from heritage and handicraft. The levels of the building are experienced as a traveler would experience a mountain journey as described in many Korean traditional paintings.”

The mountain journey concept is partially realized through extensive environmental features that were integrated into the interior spaces of the building as an integral part of the design, rather than filling “leftover” areas.

“This approach led us to incorporate living green walls and gardens throughout the public spaces. Inside the bathrooms [the green walls] boost fragrance and neutralize odors naturally. We also created two massive triangle gardens with cafes and massage spas to create a vibrant ‘town square’ garden,” Young said.

IIA is owned by the South Korean Government and operated by the Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC). The project was required to go through a robust hierarchical approval process.

“This required a deep understanding of local culture, politics, and characteristics of these authorities,” Young said. “Only after satisfying one level of the government hierarchy is the team able to present to a higher level of regulatory authority. Retail planning emerged as a key issue. The design team spent two months replanning the entire building, while moving forward with the interior design concept.”

Cross-section rendering of new airport's underground baggage handling system

The design team used building information modeling (BIM) to
integrate the complex baggage handling system and to account
for the intricate underground environment at the new terminal.
© Heerim-Mooyoung-Gensler-Yungdo

The team is utilizing building information modeling (BIM) to solve the structural engineering challenges of the terminal, which include the integration of a baggage conveyor and screening system, as well as accommodating the service roadways beneath the structure.

The H-shaped structure will feature robust retail and restaurant space, including a transfer hotel and conference center. “With the number of employees, services, and transportation connections, the building actually operates as a 24-hour city,” Young said. “Terminal 2 is designed to operate efficiently 24 hours a day, 365 days a year despite its complexity and size.”

The airport’s expansion will include a second control tower, train station, and parking facilities. Upon completion, IIA will have the capacity for 62 million passengers per year, and 5.8 million metric tons of cargo, a significant increase from the current capacity of 44 million passengers and 4.5 million metric tons.  


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