A monumental maze of triangulated terminals that has served as an impressive architecture beacon to the exceeding number of people travelling through the juvenile hub. The airport that was built by HOK in the mid 1980’s and seems as if it has not aged a day since. In the context of a region of the world were the vernacular is shunned, King Khaled International Airport manages to encapsulate the stark beauty of the desert all whilst exuding a timeless elegance.
While in comparison to Heathrow airport or even a more local Dubai International Airport, King Khalid Airport boasts a far more modest number of travelers yet is a bustling hub nevertheless. What is unique to it is that after clearing passport control it seems as if the traveler crosses some threshold into an ulterior vortex were time manages to slow down. Following the brief put forward by the Ministry of Defense and Aviation the airport was to operate as an art gallery, garden and sanctuary. Numerous pieces of art are sprawled throughout the airport that will always be the first true gallery in Riyadh, reining midst the contemporary art scene and subsequent art galleries popping all around the city.
The vastness of the terminal is masked by its welcoming nature. The fountains in the airport pay homage to the Arab courtyard home typology, it manages to breathe life into the terminals. These fountains create oases within the pseudo desert dune architecture that HOK managed to capture.
The terminals are part of a bigger complex that houses a mosque, a parking garage and a residential compound. The mosque carries through the triangulated theme both in plan and structure also continuing that in a tighter pattern on the inside of the dome. The introduction of color in the prayer carpet with the cobalt blue refreshes the space and highlights its importance in the mosque.
With the expansion of two more terminals the bid was fittingly given to HOK that have been able to utilize their geometric system to seamlessly expand the airport without disrupting any airport operations during construction. While the terminals have also been recently commercialized by the introduction of the duty free shopping areas, this is simply an imminent addition. The newly renovated lounges offer a spa-like serenity in the already serene airport. Despite the expansion and renovations King Khaled Airport will remain an icon of modern Islamic architecture that is both elegant while paying homage to the stark landscape of the region that is easily taken for granted.