Mumbai airport’s $890 million Terminal 2 soars high with splendor
India has always been a country of contrasting means – where super rich reside beside the uber poor; where high-end technologies go hand in hand with ridiculously primitive mechanisms. And, now we are once again witness to the antithesis of gargantuan proportions, with the state-of-the-art renovation of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, which by the way is surrounded by a sea of slums. The $890 million project undertaken by New York City-based Skidmore, Owings and Merrill architects (SOM) entails a whole new terminal with swanky features. These include – an expansive single roof that soars to a dizzying height of 40 m (around 130 ft), supported by the world’s longest cable stayed glass wall. And yes; Mumbai somehow always finds a way to pay homage to its thriving film industry – this time with the world’s largest public art program with an array of movie star murals.
In purely architectural terms, the new Terminal 2 shows off a unique cross-shaped plan for improved circulation pattern and organized movement of both planes and passengers. The 450,000 sq m endeavor also alludes to energy efficiency, with adoption of glass curtain walls and multi-level light wells for induction of natural sun light. This spatial pattern is complemented by high-grade glazing and terrace greenery to counter the solar heat gain during the summer seasons.
Of course, the structural credentials sound all well and good, but the process leading up to this magnificent result was rocky to say the least. According to the grapevine, around 300 hectares of the surrounding slum area had to be razed to make up for the terminal’s site. Consequently, the project got delayed, while India’s once soaring GDP growth has also come down substantially over these recent years. Now, only time could tell of the economic benefit generated by the impressive albeit ostentatious Terminal 2.