Sweeping curves and elegant streamlining the new shape of things at Dublin airport
T2 at Dublin airport. Energy use has been minimised as much as possible and it is reckoned this will reduce the new terminal's carbon emissions by up to 32 per cent compared to a standard terminal.
Aer Lingus to test transition as terminal opens todayFRANK McDONALD, Environment Editor
EVERYONE WHO knows Dublin airport and its dilapidated and often chaotic main terminal will be delighted and surprised by Terminal 2. Except for the views out towards Howth and Ballymun and, indeed, a glimpse of the unloved Terminal 1, it is like being in another country.
Externally, the sweeping curves of the new terminal suggest a swaggering symbol of boom-time Ireland, which is when this mammoth project was conceived.
Internally, it is bright, elegant, streamlined, and – above all – characterised by an almost incredible sense of space.
Just as the endless changes of levels on arrival in Terminal 1 – going downstairs, then upstairs and then down again to the oppressive baggage hall – offered a preview of the country’s chaos, Terminal 2 conveys an entirely different impression of how Ireland is organised.
After a single change in level, it’s straight through all the way to the exit – via a baggage hall with half-a-dozen huge carousels, some big enough to cater for two long-haul flights at a time, under a wavy white-panelled ceiling set high enough to avoid being oppressive.
Unusually, arriving passengers share the same space as those checking in at Terminal 2 after they emerge from the customs hall. This is a vast single volume, contained in the emblematic “toroid” form of the entrance/exit zone – geometrically derived from a doughnut.
Alan Lamond, one of the directors of airport architects Pascall and Watson, believes the mixing of arriving and departing passengers in a major terminal is “almost unique”, and says it was intended to allow new arrivals to experience the spatial drama of Terminal 2’s toroid.
This makes an immediate impression as you enter the building, as does the high-quality fit-out, which includes walnut panelling over the 54 check-in desks, the twin blue-glazed lift shafts and the matching sets of escalators that link the entry zone to the next level.
Above, as if to act as a guide, the curved roof is split in two by a long transverse louvred skylight.
“The key driver,” Lamond says, “was to make ‘way-finding’ for users as intuitive and straightforward as possible, so you’re always moving upwards towards the light.”
There are plenty of security lanes, all in the same place for a change, and all 25 departure gates are clearly marked by outsized numbers. Toilets are also easily identifiable by their blue-glazed pods, though paper is still not offered as an option – only wasteful hand-dryers.
In general, energy use has been minimised as much as possible, and it’s reckoned this will reduce the new terminal’s carbon emissions by up to 32 per cent compared to a standard scenario. The building, which can be seen for miles, is also capable of being extended.
The escalators and travelators seem remarkably slow, perhaps due to nanny state regulations here. At peak times some passengers checking in for flights in Terminal 2 will have to make their way along a corridor link to Terminal 1’s octagonal (and now very dated) Pier B.
Pre-clearance for US customs, which was one of the selling points of Terminal 2 internationally, will not come into operation until early next year; aptly this area is clad in American cherrywood – although there’s a prominent Garda desk to show that you’re still legally in Ireland.
There are 19 airbridges, some in pairs to allow quicker boarding for long-haul flights, and – so far – they have not had their interiors plastered by advertisements for a mobile phone company. The calm grey surfaces should be protected against such vulgar commercialism.
Inevitably there are multiple shopping opportunities, particularly in the departures area – and there’s even a shop for arriving passengers in case they’ve forgotten to buy perfume or whatever. WH Smith beat Eason for the lucrative bookshop franchise.
Restaurants and bars are stylish, on a par with those in the most recent extension of Terminal 1, which is virtually its only attractive feature. The landside Oak Cafe and Bar with its free-standing “glulam” timber structure designed by Tom de Paor is a real eye-catcher.
Dividing Terminal 2 into two sections, linked by a multilevel “bridge” over the road serving Terminal 1, was the “eureka moment” for its designers – including Arup consulting engineers – because it allowed the building to be built without too much disruption.
Much of the former Pier C, which occupied part of the site, was also retained; built as recently as 1998 it could hardly have been written off. The pier is oversailed by the upper levels of the new terminal and has now been remodelled to include three airline lounges.
Corballis House, a protected structure that largely dated from the 1760s, was the only outright casualty of Terminal 2’s construction. A fine neo-Palladian country house, whose builders could never have imagined its latter-day surroundings, it was unfortunately in the way.
Exit from the new terminal is through a glazed tube that is awkwardly plugged into the rather boxy new car-park building which will have 1,000 spaces; earlier plans for a hotel that would have covered up this merely functional block were pigeonholed because of the recession.
There is a clear route (with lifts to ensure universal access) to stands for buses and taxis immediately in front of the terminal. Provision has also been made for Metro North – if it’s ever built; a rail station serving both terminals would be close to the now more visible airport church.
One of the critical decisions that had to be made in 2005, when Terminal 2 was being designed, was how big it should be. At the time Dublin airport was bursting at the seams, with forecasts that passenger numbers would rise inexorably to 35 million or more. As things turned out, numbers peaked at 23.5 million in early 2008, and have since fallen. With Aer Lingus moving into the new terminal, along with US airlines and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad, this will now be evenly split at nine million for each of the two terminals.
It could be argued, as Ryanair’s voluble chief executive Michael O’Leary has done repeatedly, that the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) lost the run of itself by commissioning such an extravagant terminal at a reputed cost of €609 million – including the new 420m pier.
In O’Leary’s view, the DAA should have settled for something as cheap and cheerless as the no-frills terminal building at Frankfurt-Hahn, a simple white shed that could equally have served as a BQ outlet. What we’ve got is a highly creditable legacy of the boom.
Ryanair now becomes the anchor tenant of Terminal 1, which will suit the airline just fine. Plans by the DAA to give it a much-needed facelift have had to be postponed because the Commission for Aviation Regulation doesn’t believe this would be justified in the current climate.
Spectacular and well done to all involved!:banana::cheers:
Saw this ad on tv the other day