New “Greenfield” Desert International Airport in Israel

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Israel’s first civil airport built from scratch (“greenfield”),
servicing the Red Sea resort city of Eilat and surrounding region

Amir Mann – Moshe Zur – Ami Shinar – Orna Zur Architects, announces the opening of Israel’s Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport, servicing the Red Sea resort city of Eilat and surrounding region. Commissioned by the Israel Airport Authority (IAA), the project was handled from A to Z by design manager Architect Amir Mann, establishing a partnership between two of Israel’s leading firms, Mann-Shinar Architects and Moshe Zur Architects. Located in Timna, it is Israel’s first civil airport built from scratch (“greenfield”).

Spread across 1,250 acres, the airport is a minimalist and futuristic design in the middle of the Negev Desert, wholly unified under one architectural language. The architects served as project planning managers, leading more than 45 consulting firms, nearly all local Israeli engineers, alongside ARUP London’s aviation team. Situated just 18 KM north of Eilat, the Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport will become a major game changer for the region’s local and international tourism to Israel, Jordan and Egypt’s Sinai Desert.

The Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport was completed with significant achievements, firstly, an international airport fully constructed and operational within budget, funded for less than half of similar projects worldwide; on schedule for opening day within an exceptionally tight timeframe; and the creation and implementation of cutting-edge design, technology systems and environmental solutions.

The Passenger Terminal Building (50,000 square-meters) of the Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport features a 3,600 meter (11,811 feet) long runway and taxiway, along with forty aprons, allowing for domestic and international traffic. The two support structures surrounding the Terminal measure a combined 36,210 square-meters with a 45 meter-high Air Control Tower. Mann-Shinar Architects and Moshe Zur Architects led the entire design team of the project from the masterplan to the construction documents of each individual check-in counter. The project’s design program was influenced by the futuristic world of aviation and the seemingly timeless natural surrounding of its location in the desert.

The Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport is unified under a unique holistic design language that frames the stunning scenery of the Negev Desert mountainscape. The mushroom-like rock formations found in Israel’s National Timna Park served as inspiration for the initial geometry of the Passenger Terminal Building and create a self-shading volume. The expansive views are placed on center stage for each traveler to encounter throughout their journey. The minimalist interior scheme is based on a tightly organized high-ceilinged hall with low-level furniture and pavilions acting as dividers.

The Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport’s envelope consists of a steel and concrete skeleton structure, cladded to the exterior with insulating pristine-white aluminum triangular panels. The building’s interior features a contrasting bamboo-wood cladded scheme. Both the interior and exterior claddings are continuous from wall to roof, forming a singular cohesive and complete architectural space and object. The opaque volume of the airport is “carved” by the designed movements of its passengers, inspired by the desert boulder’s formation by the motions of wind and water.

Glass curtain walls divide the Passenger Terminal Building at its entrances, exits and patios, sectioning the passenger traffic and controlling the security processes. Light wells allow sunlight to penetrate the depth of the building, while spatial incisions enrich the interior by making all streams of passenger movement visible for the incoming and outgoing traveler. The design introduces the building into the desert landscape through exterior patios and a central open-air café with a biological pool and garden. The result is one continuous spatial experience for the passenger on a single level.

The opening of the Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport will coincide with the closing of the existing J. Hozman Eilat Airport that is currently located in the middle of the city of Eilat. The old airport was a barrier within the city, dividing and disrupting its development. With its annulment, the city’s urban fabric will be able to unite, surfacing potential opportunities and regeneration. The Ilan and Asaf Ramon International Airport will serve as the new southern gate to Israel and is expected host 2.25 million passengers per year, that figure bound to grow to an estimated 4.25 million passengers per year.

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