As a budding tourist hotspot on the edge of the new Silk Road Belt, Georgia has a bright future ahead of it. Since its opening, our design for Kutaisi International Airport, which was voted one of the 13 most beautiful airports in the world by ‘Curbed magazine’, has grown from accommodating 12,915 passengers in 2012, to over 300,000 in 2016, and has an expected 2020 footfall of 1,000,000 passengers. With an additional rail link development between Tbilisi and the Black Sea coast, as well as future regional investment as part of the new Silk Road Belt, an expansion of this intermodal airport seemed inevitable. Faced with the task of raising the capacity of the terminal, we aimed to ensure a user-oriented experience where the health and comfort of every passenger is accommodated through architecture and spatial design. The existing terminal, with its ‘umbrella’ like lobby and its intimate external courtyard, is transformed to become the Departure Hall. The Arrivals hall is relocated to the other end of the new terminal, and has a formal functional approach with underground luggage handling and customs service. The visual connections between the Departure, Central and Arrivals Halls are enhanced through design motifs that create transparency and openness. For the new Central Passenger Hall, another strong architectural feature was created that relates to the umbrella and courtyard, and balances the user experience. An elevated plaza gradually brings passengers up to higher levels in the terminal and - alongside food and beverage outlets - will act as a green recreational hub and waiting area for early arrivals, visitors and their families. From here family and friends can easily observe the arrival of their loved ones, and passengers can enjoy a little break out time before a long journey. United Airports can also organise events in the new terminal and use the outdoor plaza for advertisement purposes.
Kutaisi International Airport Extension
UNStudio Ben van Berkel with Frans van Vuure, Roman Kristesiashvili and Alexander Kalachev, Melinda Matuz, Christoph Zechmeister, Pietro Scarpa, Derrick Diporedjo and Sabrina Li