in 2008, an international architectural design competition was held to select the best project for the passenger terminal at franjo tudman international airport zagreb in croatia. wanting to ensure architectural excellence, an international competition jury invited ten world-renowned architects together with ten acknowledged croatian architects to participate, ultimately awarding first prize and commission to the entry designed by croatian authors-architects branko kincl, velimir neidhardt and jure Radić. 

aerial view of the franjo tudman international airport terminal 
image © studio HRG



the french concessionaire started building in 2013, executing the design delivered by authors-architects and design companies IGH projektiranje d.o.o., kincl d.o.o. and neidhardt arhitekti d.o.o. as a result, the new terminal complex – opened in march 2017 as the first phase construction of 65.000 sq.m – serves up to 5 million passengers a year. the first phase site plan has eight boarding bridges linked to the terminal building on the north side, and an arrival/ departure ramp with a viaduct on the south. the viaduct is built to accommodate the extension of the terminal building to the east, when the airport capacity increases over 5 million passengers —  and in addition to east and west with both piers extensions to 10, 12 and 15 boarding bridges in several phases according to the number of passengers. at the end of a 30 years concession, the second phase additions will serve up to eight million passengers.

exterior facade view
image © josip škof



the distinctiveness of the architectural design, a three-level body of reinforced concrete that forms the terminal’s base, is achieved through a composition of hypars. the envelope structure is a spatial truss gently curved in two directions, deploying tens of thousands prefabricated steel tubes and nodes based on the triangular off grid module ending in bright, glossy and clean roof surfaces. in the same way, the interior is enriched with the originality of the curved ceiling and construction that is bursting with a multitude of steel elements of the spatial steel structure. such a computer-generated harmony leads the engineering interpretation towards the top of the architectural concept materialization.


the structure can thus be perceived as ‘a dynamic roof envelope, which unwraps itself, to levitate above the terminal hall – generating the free dynamics of the structural net, an iconic expression of the landscape and its relief features as original attributions to the generated architectural form,’ describes the co-authors. 

check in area entry
image ©  josip škof



the traffic functions between two roundabouts which serve as connecting points to viaduct ramps leading to or from the departure level curb at 10.20 m above the ground, while internal roads and an arrival/ departure ramps are flanking the central pedestrian surface. a passenger car park is situated on the east, and on the west there is an employees parking, bus and taxi stops and a rent- a- car amenities with their parking. main public levels at the land side of the terminal ground and upper departure level are connected by outdoor escalators and elevators and by interior sets of elevators and stairs within circulation cores.

check in area front view
image ©  josip škof



the interior ambiences bear the attributes of neat, clearly arranged areas that follow the functional requirements of airport protocols. well-lit spaces with natural and artificial diffused illumination are distinguished with great functionality based on a clear organization of short connections- paths. furthermore, large glass facade surfaces give the passengers the chance to enjoy the landscape while moving through the terminal building. in the end, the perception of interior and exterior spaciousness contributes the sense of comfort while staying in the terminal building and makes the journey more appealing

departures area
image ©  josip škof



functional organization is developed and distributed vertically among the four levels: 


arrival level is located on the ground floor, along the north perimeter, which is also home of the baggage handling system. at this level on both sides of the terminal there are departure/ arrival hall areas serving bussed passengers. it also houses complementary facilities such as food & beverage establishments, ATM- machines, car rental offices, restrooms, a tourist information center etc. 


arrival gallery/ transfer- transit level on the first floor provides the passengers air bridges to gain their first impressions of the terminal. various facilities related to airplane travel safety are situated on this floor- security alongside passport and health controls. 


departure hall areas with check-in islands on the second floor are accessible from the urban traffic domain by sloped inbound and outbound ramps. there are 30 check-in counters in the 1st phase, that will be expanded to 60 check-ins in the 2nd phase, self check-in points, central info counter, food & beverage establishments and a multiconfessional chapel.


leaving the check-in areas, passengers reach the boarding ticket control counter and are invited to ascend to the departure gallery at the third floor level. upon security check and passports control, passengers descend to duty free/ commercial amenities- shops, bars, restaurants, waiting areas and a CIP lounge, located before the reach of air bridges gates at the departure hall level. the NPT building could sustain a major crisis possibly caused by a failure of all standard energy supply sources. all other procedures support an ecologically sustainable concept of the completed design.

departures area second view
image ©  josip škof



flexibility of conceptual scheme allows for adaptability with open spaces formed by predominantly 14.40 x 14.40 m modular column grid at the concrete base. post-stressed reinforced concrete structure is built on a grid pattern with various spans that are multipliers of the base module: 7.20m, 14.40m etc. inside vertically and horizontally deployed and interconnected spaces, there are 18 reinforced concrete columns ending in upside-down conic clusters of six closed-umbrella-like steel pylons on the floor plan grid of 28.80 x 43.20 m. they carry the dynamic roof envelope structure above the departure hall. this steel truss structure is built on a modular grid of 3.60 x 3.60 m, with an off grid displacement between the upper and lower truss level. finally, the pier design allows for the flexibility that is necessary to sustain the expected increase of air traffic in the future. new passenger terminal building dimensions are 153m by 153 m, reaching to a height up to 35 m, with a 284 m long pier, total gross building area of 65 000 sqm. 

main entrance and pedestrian plaza
image ©  josip škof

ground floor plan 

first floor plan

second floor plan

third floor plan

levels diagram



project info:


project title: new passenger terminal at franjo tuđman international airport zagreb
location: zagreb/ velika gorica, croatia
authors- architects: branko kincl, velimir neidhardt, jure radić
design companies: kincl d.o.o, neidhardt arhitekti d.o.o, IGH projektiranje d.o.o.
area: 65 860.00 m2
construction: 2013-2016
project completion: 09/2016
client company: MZLZ d.o.o.
architectural team: ivana benković, ana breka, mirta dropuljić, ivana drviš, almir ibrahimović, igor janković, zrinka mustać, mihovil selak
details consultant: goran tončinić
landscape design: robert duić
traffic design: viadukt d.d.
structural engineer: igh projektiranje d.o.o.
building services engineer: connecto projekt d.o.o.
fire protection: CTP projekt d.o.o.
construction company: bouygues batiment international
independent engineer: arup
photographs: josip škof, studio HRG, damir fabijanić



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom

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