Throughout the world's history, the most memorable structures have usually been the grandest and largest. However, in a future clouded by climate change, architects will be working for a new perspective: the most efficient.
In what is a perfect example of green engineering, Geneva Airport just opened its new visionary glass terminal to business that is through and through an environmentally conscious structure, spanning 9.8 acres (40,000 m²).
A conscious terminal design
An airy and vibrant structure, the new Aile Est du Genève Aéroport, or East Wing of the Geneva International Airport was previously a classic 1970s terminal with not much to offer. The green facelift had been in the works for over a decade; digging the geothermal wells for efficient cooling and the four-year-long construction process were dainty tasks.
The energy-positive terminal resembles a parallelogram that has an angled glass facade that allows the building to get as much natural sunlight as possible. The extruding rhomboid of the East Wing is 62 feet deep (19 m) by 32 feet high (10 m) and floats 19 feet (6 m) above the apron level with 1,706 feet (520 m) between its east and west ends. The 215,280 square feet of technical glass installed on the terminal's exterior gives passengers perfect views of the Jura mountains but also protects the building from solar radiation.
While the East Wing catches the attention with its minimalistic appearance, it is most notable for its conscious design. The triple-glass used in the building makes it a thermal envelope. And the 75,500 square feet of solar panels on its roof are planned to deliver more than enough electricity for the terminal to operate. What's more, the 110 geothermal piles installed in the building are expected to cool 90 percent of it.
According to architecture firm Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners' press release, the East Wing is designed to meet the objective of delivering an energy positive building, in regards to energy consumption. "In order to reach this objective, the building will rely on a holistic sustainable strategy consisting of the following elements: 7,000 m² of photovoltaic panels on the roof, 110 geothermal piles for heating and cooling, high-performance glazed facades with solar protection guaranteeing a low dependency on artificial lighting, detailed analysis of thermal performance to eliminate cold-bridges, energy-efficient chilled ceilings throughout, LED lighting strategy with responsive control systems and low water consumption using methods such as rainwater harvesting."
In an interview with Robb Report, Douglas Paul, associate partner and project architect with Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners said "The Aile Est is a Swiss watch with the cogs visible from all angles" and added, "Every centimeter is made to work."
With its colorful and lively interior designs and energy-positive infrastructure, the new East Wing is an environmentally conscious architecture dream come true.