International Air Baltic Terminal competition
Client: Air Baltic – Ove Arup
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with I. Naya, L. Parisi, G. Pastore, S. Vartolo
Year: 2010


…flow terminal, a cultural hotspot

Together with comfortable travel, the Air Baltic Terminal also can be a place to enjoy cultural events. The terminal functions as a cultural hotspot, serving all Riga citizens. The terminal can be dedicated to flow because the high percentage of transfers allows handling of arrivals and departures mainly on one floor level. The architecture of the terminal can be a contemporary support to Riga’s rich architectural history of Art Nouveau, Gothic spaces and wooden constructions.


1. Air Baltic is single user and has a business policy that supports cultural life.
2. Riga Airport and Riga City are very close together and transfer in-between is easy and swift.


1. a cultural platform at 0 level (ground floor) that brings Riga and travelers together,
2. a dedicated launch pad at +1 level that offers high comfort and simple, intuitive navigation to travelers,
3. an efficient baggage handling system at -1 level.


The platform is well connected with the road system and parking facility. It is designed as a transparent glass box with welcoming lounge and cultural stage for Riga citizens and travelers, programmed with a variety of regional cultural events, like pop and classical concerts, theatre plays, performances, exhibitions and fashion shows. One of the local qualities of Riga is its park-like character; the city is full of trees. Therefore the platform is designed like a forest, with inclined chrome columns that behave like trees. The floor layout of the platform displays passenger paths between entries and check-in area. On both sides of these paths more relaxed areas are made with fiberglass pebble-shaped commercial-cultural pavilions and a wood floor finish.


The launch pad is fully dedicated to easy and swift passenger flow. The flow patterns of passengers inside make an intuitive travelers environment and are defining its organic shape. The launch pad is a carrier of several pebble-shaped commercial pavilions at +1 level and at a suspended mezzanine at +2 level. The launch pad also has a large airside window along the restaurant zone. The main body of the launch pad is situated in the glass box and stands with two big ‘feet’ on the platform. These feet define the check-in, security and baggage reclaim zones and also make an arch for the cultural stage. The arch welcomes all passengers. The launch pad has two ‘heads’ with departure lounges inside. One head with the VIP lounge has a huge panoramic landside window onto the Riga skyline. Travelers have terraces, situated on the top of the two heads. Two ‘arms’ make the piers.


The baggage handling area is situated at -1 level and is connected with two vehicle transport ramps at the airside to the apron area. Sloped belts move the baggage to the two reclaim belt zones at ground level.


The large numbers of transfer passengers allow to organise almost all arrival and departure on one single level. Thus a simple vertical layout is made of baggage handling system at -1, main entry and exit hall with cultural stage at ground level and arrival & departure at +1 level. Some +2 level mezzanines hold more service program.


Logic, ease and speed of construction are of utmost importance. All building parts are prefabricated and assembled on site. From bottom to top: The baggage handling has a simple concrete column beam structure with the same generic 7.2-m grid as the ground floor and roof structure. The platform has a glass box at level 0 with a steel column beam structure that carries the horizontal roof. The forest of steel columns in the box have certain degrees of inclination which makes them look natural like trees. Their positions at top and foot are not at structural cross points, but shifted along the 7.20-m grid lines. The climate facade around has a double glass envelope with an internal space of 1.5-m for air treatment. Windows are cleaned from the inside. The roof sheet has some large glass openings to allow more daylight into the entry and exit zone. The structure of the launch pad has a horizontal split at the +1 floor level. Below it is a stable concrete structure, organically shaped and cast in situ. On top are steel frame portals every 7.20-m, connected with a steel beam structure for lateral stability. The shape is made of concrete panels. The size of the panels can be tuned to more regular sizes for road transport. The concrete shape is made watertight on the exterior and has a finish of metal skin. The interior of the shape has insulation and interior paneling.


All building parts have their own dedicated energy- and climate systems. The platform has a large volume with a combination of air treatment from the roof down and floor heating/cooling at 0 level. The roof can have 6.500 m2 of
solar panels to cover all necessary electric power of the terminal. The complete glass box has a double climate facade that captures warm air and leads this into three heat exchange units on the roof.

Warm and cold water are led from there into subterranean storage reservoirs. The three air treatment units on the roof have three ‘hands’ below the ceiling that inject air into the glass box. The launch pad interior floors have heating/cooling at +1and +2 levels together with additional air injection from the floor’s edges. The sections show that the interior shape of the launch pad makes the air flow complete. The piers have floor floor heating/cooling together with additional air injection through the double climate facades on both sides. All services, like ducts, pipes and cable systems run below the removable floor system of the +1 and +2 levels. Maintenance takes place from the top side of the floors.


The platform evacuates travelers around the facades at ground level, the launch pad evacuates along all sides of the glass box at +1 level and from there at the west facade down to the ground level. The piers evacuate directly down to the apron.


Together with the passenger flow environment, a clear signposting system is of vital importance. We suggest embedded signing as much as possible onto the skin of the launch pad. We apply flexible screens that are attached onto the curved surface of the pad. In the glass box of the platform we use the exterior skin of the launch pad.


Lighting as well is integrated as much as possible. The floors are made fit for integration of wall washers, up-beaming spots and Led’s.


The outdoor parking lot has pedestrian links into the terminal. The center area is reserved for rental car spaces. The North side of the terminal has space to locate the bus-taxi stands. We kept the South side available and fit for the possible connection to the current terminal.