NACO, a company of Royal HaskoningDHV, together with Foster + Partners and FR-EE (Fernando Romero Enterprise), has designed what is set to be the world's most sustainable airport.
© Foster & Partners
Mexico City's new International Airport will be one of the world's largest airports and revolutionises airport design. A single terminal capable of handling 120 million annual passengers is enclosed within an innovative continuous lightweight gridshell.

Spanning in excess of 100 metres, its design was inspired by Mexican architecture and symbolism and was created to evoke a feeling of flight. Architect Fernando Romero said the airport will honour the Mexican flag's coat of arms, which is a reference to Tenochtitlan, the pre-Columbian city on which the capital is built.

The single building uses less materials and energy than a series of terminals, is easy to navigate, and takes into account predicted passenger number increases to 2028.

The airport will help catalyse long-term local regeneration, increasing in size and expanding to six runways by 2062. It is seen as a showcase for Mexican innovation and will be built by Mexican contractors and engineers using state-of-the-art design principles to reach new levels of energy efficiency and LEED Platinum status.

The concept is more than design showmanship however. It was created in response to Mexico City's challenging soil conditions and can be constructed without the need for scaffolding.

The roof enclosure system lets in natural light and air, collects rainwater, and will provide views of planes circling above. It will incorporate large areas of translucent and opaque panels, daylight reflectors and building-integrated photovoltaic panels aimed at providing shade and thermal insulation. In total, the airport's solar power systems will generate 50 megawatts of peak power, enough to supply a large portion of its energy needs.

The design has been well-received by the industry, media and locals, with some calling it 'intelligent', 'responsive', and 'beautiful'. Mexico's Communications and Transportation Department Secretary Gerardo Ruiz said, "It will be a modern, on the vanguard (project) that will have a great dose of Mexican symbolism and that without a doubt will be a reference around the world and a great door into Mexico."