Conran: Azhar on Architecture: Airport Terminal Building, Riga, Latvia

Recently we completed a proposal for an airport project, “The Terminal Building” at Riga Airport for airBaltic which is to be the first designed, built, financed and operated passenger terminal in Europe.We were inspired by a series of concepts:

1.      Uniqueness of Place: Baltic, Latvia, Riga

2.      Poetry of Nature: Air, Land, Water

3.      Poetry of Engineering: A turbine blade from a Rolls Royce Concorde jet engine!


These were interpreted to create a series of overlaid elements, the roof being the principle architectural element, which is formed to respond to the main purpose of an airport, namely, departing or arriving!

Our spatial design was developed by creating a parametric model of the roof, which transforms from a straight bladelike form to a curved blade form, directly inspired by the turbine blade. The blade was used as an inspiration object which represented the ideal of not only a high performance engineered component but also an aesthetically beautiful form.

The roof forms “light scars” which provide natural glare free daylight and non-potable water is captured from the roof and is used for toilet flushing and washing the airplanes!



The Terminal building sits in a rectangular water body, representing an abstraction of the Baltic, which acts as an amenity, a security device and a sustainable cooling source.  Not only does the water body provide evaporative cooling but in the winter it freezes and can be used for ice skating!

The Car Park in front of the Terminal also has a number of sustainable energy features including the use of Solar Photovoltaic lighting, a permeable surface paving for water attenuation and a ground source heat pump providing heating and cooling.

We sought to achieve the objectives of the airBaltic brief by reconciling the need to create an ambitious design response while providing a robust commercial solution. One of the main issues for dealing with the layout was to deal with the passenger numbers, which are forecast to over 7.2mppa by 2015 when the peak capacity of approximately 40 air traffic movements per hour at the runway will be reached. In response to this, Conran & Partner’s proposal created a gross floor area of 60,000m².

We worked closely with the engineering team to create what we believe is a sensitive, integrated design strategy. Together with a range of passive and active environmental measures we created a response, which both respected and reflected the aspirations of airBaltic as a company.

This project represents Conran & Partners commitment to infrastructure projects and creating buildings which respond to the need for intelligent sustainable buildings.



C&P Design Team: Azhar, Philip Thornton, Kaori Yamomoto

C&P Graphics: Felix Gannon

C&P Visualisation: Francesco Nicolardi, Daniel Gill

Buro Happold Engineering & Sustainability: Dan Philips, Mark Dowson, Luke Epp, Willa Straker-Smith

Buro Happold Aviation: Alan Regan

Please contact azhar@conran.com for more details about this project

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