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Transport / Mass transit

Mexico City’s new airport will produce its own energy and water

Looks like Mexico City is planning to go all out with its new airport. Once complete, the $9bn new airport will have the capacity to serve 120m passengers a year, making it the busiest in the world. It also, incidentally, promises to be the single-largest object in the approximate shape of the Spiderman logo.

The winning proposal is fronted by British architect Norman Foster, the man responsible for London’s Wembley Stadium and Barcelona airport, and Fernando Romero, son-in-law of billionaire Carlos Slim. Here’s a video introducing the group’s design:

Some key points:

  • The new airport will have only one terminal and one main entrance. According to the airport’s designers, this will make it more efficient, as there’ll be no need for tram or subway systems between terminals.
  • Despite this, it’ll operate six runways and deal with four times the traffic handled by Benito Juárez, the dual terminal airport it’ll replace.
  • At 550,000 square metres, it’ll be one of the largest single-terminal airports in the world, though it has nothing on the 1.7m square metre Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport.

A mockup of the airport’s atrium.

  • It may not be clear from the speedy construction timelapse in the video above, but it’ll take over 30 years to build. Three of the runways should be completed by 2020, but the airport won’t be fully completed until at least 2050.  
  • It’ll cost $9.15bn. However, according to the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a thinktank, the airport could increase the country’s GDP by between 1.5 and 2.4 per cent – which, going on 2012 figures, means it could make the country somewhere between $17bn and $30bn a year.
  • The giant structure’s roof will collect rainwater and act as a solar power farm, so the airport will provide some of its own energy and water.
  • The roof will also have a ventilation system, which the designers claim will preclude the need for heating or air conditioning during most of the year.
  • Visitors will enter the airport through a garden of catci filled with eagle and snake symbols inspired by the Mexican flag.

 

  • Oh, and finally:

 

Just saying.  

 

So the most eco-friendly airport ever, then? Well, not quite.  In a statement, Mexican Senator Alejandro Encinas pointed out that the airport will be in the middle of a nature reserve and on a flood plain. As a result, it could put 120 native species in danger of extinction.

It’s also worth noting that Terminal 2 of the existing airport, located around 6 miles away on the same flood plain, is apparently sinking by 30cm a year. Overall, Encinas says the new facility would be “ecological suicide and a threat to urban development”.

Let’s just hope the designs can incorporate wildlife crossings and floating foundations, then.

All images: Foster + Partners. Except the Spiderman logo.
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