BIA 2.0 all set to take off
For five years since its inception, the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) wore the tag of a “functional” airport with minimal fuss. But an international airport that was the pride of a wannabe global city deserved more than an architecture widely ridiculed as factory-like. Its aesthetics, design and stature had to carry that “wow” factor. Addressing these concerns through a comprehensive terminal expansion and design upgrade, BIA is finally set to don an all-new avatar this October 1.
The expansion gives the entire airport complex a new lease of life, asserts GV Sanjay Reddy, Managing Director, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL). Architectural firm HOK, several leading international architects, planners, urban designers, landscape architects and engineering consultants had pooled in their expertise to ensure that the expanded Terminal-1 (T1) sports an enhanced and modern design elevation.
Reddy explains the airport’s new look: “The architectural concept is based on the idea of a dramatic swooping and curving roof, under which the building sits. The roof is the unifying element for new and existing facilities, bringing both together as one composition. It also forms a dramatic canopy to the main entrance, offering passengers and public a giant covered area, protected from the weather. The undulating wave form provides the Terminal with greater physical presence.”
The difference is striking, the curved roof dominating the airport’s facade. But the change is perceptible beyond this too. The architects wanted the airport to reflect the region’s culture and heritage.
“While planning the expansion of the terminal, we felt that the airport should not just be an extension of the city's ethos, but also that of the community. The business traveller - who makes up the majority of the passengers using BIA - thus gets a feel for the cultural tones that contribute significantly to the "South India" experience,” says Reddy.
BIAL chose art installations inside the Terminal building to address this critical need. The Flight Mural by artist Yusuf Arakkal displayed in the Domestic Arrival corridor is part of this design.
This work of art evokes in the viewer Bangalore’s multi-dimensional experience. Based on the theme of flight, it references the city's heritage as the aerospace hub of India and the flag-bearer of modernity and technology in the country. As the BIAL MD analyses, “It represents the city's roots in aviation, along with the innovation that is taking flight in its avatar as Knowledge City.
This perfectly captures our vision at the airport - we strive to create a confluence of traditions that are an integral part of the city and combine it with a world-class travel experience.” Many more such art installations are on the agenda.
Landscaping around the terminal also figures high on the design upgrade. BIAL officials inform that over 100 acres of landscaped spaces have been added. The commercial space too will get a boost. “The airport is revamping its commercial blueprint to encourage every traveller to take back a memory or memento of South India, where it is strategically located. Complementing this approach, the Southern flavour will prevail across retail and F&B concepts, including a variety of unique cultural artefacts such as silk products, handicrafts, Ayurveda, coffee and spices, sandalwood, and cuisine from the four States.”
But besides the design and aesthetic factors, the Terminal expansion is primarily about accommodating more volumes. Currently, BIA witnesses about 315 aircraft movements every day, and handles a whopping 12 million passengers. BIAL officials estimate that the traffic will rise to 17-20 million passengers by 2017. Over the last five years, BIA has catered to over 50 million passengers, linking the city to 51 destinations and created a passage for 33 airlines. These include seven domestic (including one freighter) and 26 international (seven freighters) flights.
Once ready, the upgraded T1 will cover a vast expanse of about 150,000 square meters, a massive enhancement from the existing 73,347sq metres. The terminal building design will also take into account its core strengths such as short walkways, ease and convenience of usage, linear flow and flexible design. The current floor space will be more than doubled by the expansion, and thus be ready to eventually handle about 20 million passengers per year. BIAL officials say T1 will be equipped with cutting edge airport and IT infrastructure, and security systems.
Passengers could look forward to more check-in counters, seating areas, a large security hold area and more aerobridges. Promised are easier and better access to seating, amenities and commercial facilities. More check-in counters should help travellers pass through the processes much faster than what exists today. The enhanced, roofed space outside the terminal should be of interest to the big crowds of friends and relatives, who inevitably accompany the passengers.
Also on the expansion agenda is an increase of reclaim belts from the existing nine to 15, expanded vehicle parking area, transit lounge and a new VVIP terminal.
The Terminal upgrade cannot be complete without the new Airport Operational Control Centre (AOCC). Positioned at the east section of the terminal on the pier, the AOCC is a high tech infrastructure, effectively the nerve-centre of the airport.
Hassle-free connectivity between the city and the airport is every passenger’s requirement. BIA’s Phase II expansion plan has accommodated the linkage with the High Speed Metro. In its Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for Phase II submitted to the state government recently, BIAL has reportedly worked out that the Metro line would get into the airport complex from the Western side and run alongside the main access roadway.
The terminal metro station is expected to be underground, linked to Terminal 1 through underground walkways. Once this line is ready, passengers could just hop into the Metro from any station in the City and commute without hassles right to the heart of the airport terminal.