Air Baltic Terminal

Riga, Latvia

airBaltic has established itself as one of Europe’s fastest growing airlines. Looking to capitalize on its success, the airline has secured the right to develop a dedicated passenger terminal serving its operations at Riga International Airport.

The proposed terminal design achieves a simplicity of form and structure that belies the sophistication and elegance of the building’s performance and the excitement of the passengers’ experience. Bold and unique in its presence at the Riga International Airport, the new airBaltic Terminal enhances the airport’s stature as a major international hub and cements airBaltic’s standing within the industry as the predominant Baltic hub airline linking Eastern and Western Europe.

Our approach to the terminal design is three-fold, each aspect serving to reflect the airBaltic branding identity (simple, reliable, affordable, and visible), its reputation, and the future aspirations of airBaltic and the people of Riga.

The terminal’s structure, a system of repetitive trusses enhanced with minor variations, establishes the scissor-like form of the roof plane. In combination these trusses create bold forms and a simple elegance reflecting airBaltic’s reputation as a low-cost carrier offering premium services. The repetitive nature of the truss system creates efficiency and allows for seamless future expansion of the terminal.

The form of the roof reinforces the hierarchy of the building at the ground plane lending itself to an intuitive, straight-forward circulation and organizational system. Wedges of courtyard landscape are created reflecting the roof structure above and giving rhythm to the space within terminal. The scissored roof system is designed to direct storm water and snow melt to the courtyard landscapes within the terminal.

AirBaltic, relies on its reputation as a low-cost airline offering competitively priced economy fares. The design proposal for the air terminal resonates with this attitude of efficiency and economy.

High value is placed on optimum building performance and low energy consumption and high occupant satisfaction and comfort. Prevailing wind directions and annual snowfall averages are accounted for to maximize energy gain and minimize consumption, while ground coupled heat pumps and site energy generation using wind and sun bring the terminal toward net-zero energy operation.

Design emphasis is also placed on the contribution of building envelope to an aesthetic and material sensory experience. The terminal’s skins and systems are designed to heighten one’s direct sense of environmental variations through the course of the year. Triple glazing insulated glass (see therm analysis for condensation risk) as the system of enclosure makes the terminal highly transparent from the inside during the day. Hence, the environmental change is highly visible from the interior of the terminal. In essence, the terminal becomes a “climatic indicator” celebrating seasonal changes and the regional population’s ingenuity in dealing with a sometimes harsh environment.

The outermost layer of the terminal’s exterior envelope is designed as a series of “snow catchers” collecting accumulated snowfall throughout the winter months and insulating the terminal’s interior from the outside environment. As winter recedes and daytime temperatures begin to climb, these areas become “ice gardens.” Melting snow and ice cascade down the vertical surfaces reflecting and accentuating the vibrant colors of airBaltic’s logo.

Personal comfort is maintained through localized radiant heating and displacement ventilation in the occupied height of the large spaces, keeping passengers warm and cool directly where they are sitting, shopping and walking. The use of radiant heating within the floor slab efficiently heats the terminal to a height of approximately 3-meters while fresh air, pre-heated with a heat-recovery system, is delivered through casework and furniture systems directly to the passengers.

The terminal building’s exterior envelope is designed as a physical manifestation of the airBaltic logo, implemented in such a way that the logo’s image emerges and dissolves from varying perspectives and distances.

As patrons approach the terminal, the exterior appears as one unified logo immediately establishing the airBaltic brand. The image changes and morphs from the macro to the micro-scale during the sequence of arrival, approach, and entry. As one nears the terminal, the image reveals its make-up of component parts to be thousands of airBaltic logos reflecting the expanding role of airBaltic within the industry marketplace.

Technical Consultant: Loisos + Ubbelohde Architecture + Energy: Susan Ubbelohde, Principal; Eduardo Pintos, Associate; Ibone Santiago, Associate; Nathan Brown, Associate

Design Team:
Raveevarn Choksombatchai, Qingyue Li, Norbert Wong, Brian Grieb