Bath’s Grant Associates lands key design role in creating world’s first ‘airport terminal in a garden’

January 18, 2024

A revolutionary airport terminal that puts nature and biodiversity at the heart of the passenger experience has opened in India, with Bath-headquartered landscape architects Grant Associates playing a key role in its innovative design.

Terminal 2 at Kempegowda International, near Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore), has reinvented the idea of traditionally stressful and bustling airport buildings.

Described as an ‘airport terminal in a garden’, it offers passengers an “immersive and authentic nature-focused experience” according to its designers.

Instead of rows of bland retail units and cafes, passengers are greeted by lush internal and external gardens with 600 to 800-year-old trees and more than 180 rare, endangered and threatened species.

These combine to cultivate a thriving ecosystem that embraces both India’s heritage and forward-thinking sustainability.

The terminal’s centrepiece is a breathtaking 10m tall green wall made up of 450-plus extraordinary plant species that runs the length and breadth of the 255,645 sq m building, which will handle up to 25m passengers a year.

All flora has been sourced from multiple ecological habitats in India and serve to showcase the beauty of nature and the Karnataka region’s culture. 

Adding to the garden-like environment is the extensive use of natural materials. including bamboo cladding and local natural stone. 

The plants are sustained by an automated irrigation system fed by harvested rainwater.

Grant Associates was appointed to work on the unique brief for the terminal in 2016 due to its proven experience of delivering inspiring projects at scale, including Singapore’s renowned Gardens by the Bay.

The international practice, which employs more than 70 landscape architecture professionals in its studios in Bath and Singapore, has also most recently worked on the historic Superbloom transformation of the Tower of London in 2022 that attracted over 250,000 visitors as well as a host of smaller projects, including several in and around Bath.

The firm’s experts had to creatively overcome a number of sizeable challenges to make the biodiversity-focused vision for the terminal a reality.

These included how to create a lush internal landscape while accommodating the day-to-day running of an airport – not least passenger circulation and environmental requirements. 

This was achieved through extensive use of innovative hanging planters and green walls. External challenges included creating an extensive 7 ha forest belt to help passively cool the spaces around the terminal, manage surface water runoff and deliver a rich, biodiverse forest microclimate.

A major aspect of the design was to create a sustainable water management strategy to significantly reduce the terminal’s environmental impact, alongside a resilient native planting framework tailored for evolving climates. This included transplanting more than 600 endemic plants and 7,700-plus trees from the existing airport.

Grant Associates senior associate Andrew Haines said: “The project vision sets out an innovative reinvention of the terminal experience where nature takes centre stage and the landscape supports the project’s ambitious sustainability goals. 

“We want to create a truly memorable passenger experience that captures the spirit of the place and offers a unique and extraordinary garden journey.” 

Grant Associates worked alongside an international team of sub-consultants on the project.

All photography by Sreenag Pictures


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