ramon international airport opens in southern israel's negev desert
 

ramon international airport opens in southern israel's negev desert

a new airport has begun operations in southern israel’s negev desert. located in timna, the ‘ilan and asaf ramon international airport’ is located 11 miles (18 km) from the red sea resort city of eilat and is the country’s first civil airport built from scratch. the project was designed by amir mann-ami shinar architects and planners in partnership with moshe zur architects, with amir mann serving as design manager. the airport is named in memory of the first israeli astronaut ilan ramon, who perished in the space shuttle columbia disaster, and his son assaf ramon, an air force pilot who died six years later at the age of 21.


all images by hufton + crow

 

 

commissioned by the israel airport authority (IAA), the project is spread across 1,250 acres in the middle of the negev desert. the airport includes a 45,000-square-meter passenger terminal building and a 3,600-meter-long runway and taxiway, alongside 40 aprons, allowing for domestic and international traffic. the two support structures to the north and south of the terminal measure a combined 36,210 square-meters with a 45 meter-high air control tower.

 

 

the project, which replaces an outdated airport in the center of eilat, is unified with a design language that seeks to frame the desert backdrop. the decision of the IAA to appoint the architects as design managers responsible for budget, program, and planning schedule, allowed for the architects to implement the design across the entire airport — from the various buildings to each individual check-in counter, thus unifying the airport on all its parts into a singular entity within the dramatic emptiness of its surroundings.

 

 

‘in designing the airport we learned from the desert scenery,’ explains amir mann, whose firm led the project alongside moshe zur architects. ‘it required a vision of the most suitable design solution that responds to the existing landscape and climate. our objective was how not to compete with the overwhelming emptiness of the site, while creating a place that welcomes passengers through the departure and arrival processes, reflecting through that experience the uniqueness of the desert environment, as a functioning international southern gate to israel.’

 

 

the mushroom-like rock formations found in israel’s national timna park served as inspiration for the initial geometry of the passenger terminal building as a self-shading volume. just as the rocks were shaped by wind and water, the terminal’s opaque volume was carved by the natural movement of passenger traffic. at every such occasion glass curtain walls were inserted, surrounding patios that introduce the natural desert landscaping into the building. these serve as light wells allowing natural light into the depths of the terminal.

 

 

the terminal building is clad with insulating aluminum triangular panels, continuous from the wall to the roof to create one single mass. the pristine panels reflect the light rays and the UV waves and thus help in further reducing the skin’s temperature. towards the interior, the building’s volume is hollowed out and the envelope is wrapped in a contrasting bamboo-wood, uniting the ceiling and walls over one continuous space.

 

 

low-level furniture and pavilions divide the interior, with its entire infrastructure — including baggage handling, security processes, and many other technical operations and systems — hidden on the lower level. this allows for the roof to be free of any technical equipment, and for all passenger processes to be efficiently organized on one single level. meanwhile, the landscape design development drew inspiration from the existing river delta fan created by the mountain flooding into the desert valley. thus, the delicately winding paths of the parking lot and the landscape development follow the shape of the natural spill from the streams.

 

 

project info:

 

client: israel airports authority (IAA) | yaacov ganot, directing manager | rafi elbaz, deputy director general of engineering & planning division
design and planning management: amir mann – moshe zur – ami shinar – orna zur architects
design manager: amir mann, architect
construction management: gadish-baran partnership
construction manager: eng. ron havatzelet
aviation consultant: arup london with amir mann-ami shinar architects and planners
engineering: the overall design team includes over 45 local israeli engineering firms
photography: hufton + crow

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