Sunday, November 21, 2021

No elevated car ramp, Noida airport will have a walkway to the terminal

New Delhi: You won’t be driving up an elevated ramp to reach the departure level, as you do at Delhi’s IGIA, at Noida International Airport (NIA) when it gets operational in 2024.

You will, however, have to walk a bit. The approach to the terminal building of NIA will be through a pathway under a canopied roof that will take you from the point where the car drops you straight to the forecourt, which is at the same level but around 300 metres away.

Taking in a view of the terminal in front, you can take escalators or elevators to the departure level on the first floor. The ‘missing’ ramp is part of the design philosophy for this airport that developer Zurich AG promises will be a fusion of local culture and Swiss efficiency.

“We are building a terminal that is clearly at home in UP, rooted in the tradition of the region and where passengers immediately feel welcome,” NIA CEO Christoph Schnellmann told TOI. The forecourt, for instance, has steps that are inspired by the iconic ghats of Varanasi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for the airport in Jewar on Thursday (Nov 25). The airport design, like many of its other aspects, including the selection of the concessionaire, was finalised during the lockdown.

Ashwini Thorat, the NIA VP who heads planning and design for this greenfield airport, took architects selected through a competition on a virtual tour of UP’s key architectural mascots — the ghats of Varanasi, temples, the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and havelis — as well as its rivers. “We had to strike the right balance between providing efficient global infrastructure and giving a very, very local experience, reflecting Indian warmth and hospitality,” she said.

The end result is NIA features like the sprawling forecourt in front of the terminal and a courtyard in the post-security check-pre-boarding area that draws from the concept of a temple’s or a haveli’s ‘aangan’. Red granite stone will be used for the sandstone feel with aluminium meshes on the walls – modern versions of the ‘jaali’.

The airport will have internal green spaces, something Singapore’s Changi excels at, for “biophilia” — the soothing instinct to connect with nature. “NIA will be the only airport where people in the security hold area can go to the open area of the courtyard before boarding their flight when weather permits,” said Thorat, who led Zurich Airport International’s greenfield design phase for Bangalore airport.

The airport land has around 11,000 trees. NIA said it has geo-tagged every tree and collected details of each. “We identified the native trees and the foreign ones that shouldn’t ideally be in this environment. Then we studied how many need to be preserved, how many can be transplanted and how many can be cut. The native species — neem and Kadamba, the tree associated with Krishna — will be preserved for posterity,” said Thorat.

21/11/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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