foster + partners designs saudi arabia's abha airport terminal as a stone village

foster + partners designs saudi arabia's abha airport terminal as a stone village

a new terminal for abha international airport


Abha, a mountainous city discovered amidst the dramatic peaks of Saudi Arabia‘s Asir region, is set to receive a new architectural landmark by Foster + Partners with a transformed airport terminal. The London-based studio unveils its winning proposal for the terminal‘s redesign, which draws inspiration from the historic village of Rijal Almaa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its distinctive mud-brick architecture.


The new terminal for Abha International Airport breaks from the conventional airport design as Foster + Partners embraces a human-scale approach, prioritizing natural elements and interconnected spaces. Rather than a vast, centralized structure, the design introduces a series of interconnected clusters, each tailored to specific functions and passenger needs. These clusters are interspersed with outdoor courtyards and walkways, suggesting a stone village much like the historic Rijal Almaa.

foster saudi abha airportimages © Foster + Partners



foster + partners infuses architecture with nature


With its Abha International Airport terminal, Foster + Partners’ emphasis on natural elements extends to the incorporation of fresh air, greenery, and natural light throughout. With this infusion of nature, the architects aim to transform the passenger journey, creating a more comfortable and stress-free environment. By blurring the threshold between indoor and outdoor spaces, the design promotes a sense of tranquility and wellbeing, setting a new benchmark for airport design.

The layout is tailored to the local climate, utilizing the clustered organization to harness prevailing winds for effective natural ventilation. The durable stone walls, coupled with diffused daylighting, further aids in maintaining a comfortable and cool environment within the interior spaces.

foster saudi abha airport
Foster + Partners wins an international competition to design the new Abha Airport terminal in Saudi Arabia



Learning from the local vernacular, our terminal guides passengers through a series of inviting human-scale spaces and connects them with green courtyards, which are open to the elements,’ says Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners.This is a complete reinvention of the airport as we know it, with an emphasis on traditional Aseeri details, local materials and terraced landscaping. It is both a celebration of — and an introduction to – the beauty of the Aseer Region.’

foster saudi abha airport
inspired by Rijal Almaa village, the design comprises interconnected human-scale clusters, courtyards, and walkways



Nikolai Malsch, Senior Partner, Foster + Partners, continues:Buildings open onto landscaped courtyards that are surrounded by retail, restaurants and cafes. Those waiting to board have the option to browse the shops and enjoy refreshments inside the airport or in the open air. Learning from the materiality of the nearby village, rough stone facades contrast with a more colourful and refined interior palette. This anchors the scheme within its context and creates a distinctive gateway to the Aseer Region.’

foster + partners designs saudi arabia's abha airport terminal as a stone village
open spaces, greenery, and natural light redefining the passenger journey with a stress-free atmosphere


the modular terminal is arranged in clusters, offering flexibility and efficient expansion options

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