Carefully positioned in the midst of a desert landscape in Israel's Timna Valley, the country's second major airport – Ramon International – is currently in construction. This major infrastructure hub, planned from scratch and built on virgin land, sits just 18 km north of Eilat, the resort city at the northern tip of the Red Sea.
Over 30 months, two of the country's leading firms – Mann Shinar and Moshe Zur Architects – partnered to deliver the Israeli Airport Authority commissioned project, which is planned to serve 2.25 million passengers for its first phase and opening, and 4.25 million in phase two (c. 2030). The airport harbours a 3600m single runway, a 40,000 sq m passenger terminal building, a 50m high air control tower, plus supporting structures and a terminal for private aviation.
The terminal itself echoes a desert boulder – described by the architects as a 'self-shading mass' – that is sculpted by the movements of wind and rain, also determined by the passenger flow at arrivals and departures. It is laid out in a simple, yet elegant box – all infrastructures on the bottom level and all passenger traffic at the top level.
The exterior of the building is striking, featuring cladding of white triangular aluminium plates. 'From the window of an airplane the view is seemingly alien-like – a modern mirage within the desert surrounding,' say the architects. The generous, open-plan interior has a completely different feel as it radiates warmth with its cladded wooden bamboo strips.
The architects see this project as a 'one-off opportunity to fully control the plan and design of all built elements', creating what they call a 'continuous language and approach', spanning from furniture elements and details, to the overall vision. Opening is currently scheduled for 2017.