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Twenty years in the making

After nearly two decades in the making, Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport has finally been completed. It was in 1989 that Richard Rogers Partnership won the competition to design Terminal 5 at London Heathrow . Much has happened in the last 19 years. Firstly, Terminal 5 is now a Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners project, reflecting the changes that have happened to the practice.


Meanwhile, the terminal design itself has been revised a further three times since the original competition winner, in response to feedback from both, client, British Airports Authority (BAA) and the general public. Concept Design 1 was the original competition winner put forth in 1989. Featuring a main terminal building which handled departing and arriving passengers on a single concourse level, baggage handling and technical services would take place beneath, at the undercroft level. However, changing requirements resulted in a drastic reduction in the available site area. Questions were also raised over the long-term viability of and practicality of the single layer model. So Concept Design 2 segregated arrival and departure passengers. This also led to a reconception of the operational spaces in the terminal, which would then be divided by âℬ˜canyons', allowing natural light to reach the lower levels of the building.


This design was opened to public enquiry in 1995, but during the process of the enquiry, BAA, questioned the compatibility of the canyon design with the needs of the building. BAA wanted a terminal that could be highly flexible and adaptable, able to meet new priorities in the future. The new, more âℬ˜futureproof' Concept Design 3, anticipated the need for the building to respond continually to major new challenges, such as fast-track passenger processing, new airline alliances and configurations , the growth of retail and services, and the impact of ever larger and more complex aircraft. The finalised design was officially opened in March 2008.


The passenger areas are now all kept on one level, although they extend over two levels at the edges of the building. Plant rooms, baggage handling and the other day-to-day infrastructure for the terminal are all carried out on a level below the passengers. Environment friendly Of course, no discussion of anything related to air travel can ignore the concerns of sustainability. As a result, Terminal 5 has been designed to include sustainable design features to reduce the building's overall environmental footprint. Rogers made the decision to use air-conditioning, rather than natural ventilation. This was because the noise and air pollution generated by aircraft would make natural ventilation impractical.


However, a displacement air-conditioning system developed by Arup reduces energy use, while canopies and low eaves reduce solar gain on the south and east elevations. Heating is provided by waste heat from an existing combined heat and power plant. This will provide 85% of the heating demand for Terminal 5 and will save around 11,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Meanwhile, boreholes will harvest rain and groundwater, reducing demand on the public water supply by 70% and reusing up to 85% of the rainfall that falls on the terminal's campus. Overall, the entire project should allow Heathrow Airport to cater for an additional 30m passengers each year. URL : www.arabianbusiness.com


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