Like churches and temples in the past and railway stations in the 19th Century, a major airport today is seen as representing an architectural identity for a community – be it a country or city. The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport proposal was designed to be the primary international airport in Mumbai and the busiest airport in India. The new concept of a “One-roof” terminal called for a combined international and domestic terminal to be built on the site of the existing airport without disrupting operations.
As gateways to the outside world, airports should embody the aspirations and identity of the community they are built to serve. Keenly aware of this, the team conducted a study on which forms and designs might be suitable for a premier airport in one of India’s leading cities. After consideration, it was felt that a peacock being a national bird and widely present in Indian culture epitomises a uniquely Indian icon. Its graceful form was the inspiration behind the contemporary structure.
Roof surfaces are articulated in panels, many of which lift up to reveal skylights under them, which are reflective of the typical geometry of feathers on the bodies of birds. The graceful and flowing curve of the roof surfaces overlap and their geometry, when seen from street level reveals echoes of a large bird in flight.
The roof forms have been generated in synchronisation with the efficient functioning of the spaces below, with the needs of each informing the other. The large skylight, with sunshade panels is located over the large span public areas such as check-in and the public plaza. Similarly, secondary skylights brighten the link bridges between the check-in hall and the departure areas.
More than just a memorable experience for passengers, the airport design proposal offers a functionally efficient plan with flexibility in operation and development. It is thoughtfully designed for simple direct connections for passengers between the curb and the gate. Travel times are also kept to a minimum with easy transfer connections in the same terminal.
The overall impression is of a contemporary and efficient airport that is befitting the aspirations of a resurgent India. Simultaneously, this is a design anchored in Indian tradition and suitable for the Indian climate.