A new jetty has opened at Geneva Airport, replacing the long-range wide-body aircraft pavilion built for Boeing 747s in 1975.
The Aile Est or East Wing building is the work of the RBI-T consortium, which consists of the London architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), the Jacques Bugna architecture studio in Geneva and the engineering offices Ingérop in Paris and T-Ingénierie in Geneva.
The new building can accommodate approximately 2,800 passengers per hour on departure and 3,000 on arrival. It serves six existing aircraft stands with new telescopic air-bridges. The jetty contains departures, arrivals, transfer, and border controls as well as new airline lounges.
The RBI-T project was selected following an international competition in 2010. The East Wing building was built between 2012 and 2021, with work carried out in four distinct phases. The first of these, the preparatory work, took place from November 2012 to July 2013, and consisted of the relocation of an apron-level hydrocarbon separator, the installation of geothermal piles to a depth of 300m and the development of the infrastructure required to harvest and recycle waste and surface water.
The second, the ‘Customs Road’ or Route Douanière, lasted from August 2013 to May 2015, incorporating the construction of: a road tunnel linking the French sector of the airport to Ferney-Voltaire in France; a technical gallery with new services infrastructure and plant rooms; and a basement and apron-level platform supporting the future superstructures.
The “BAT 1” work, from April 2016 to December 2017, included the demolition of buildings and equipment, the diversion and/or maintenance of existing services networks, and the construction of the remaining infrastructure required for the construction of the East Wing.
The “BAT 2” work, from April 2017 to July 2021, consisted of the construction above ground of the East Wing jetty, including the “Processor” (including immigration booths) and boarding lounges for Gates 14 to 19, the development of basements (already partially completed during previous phases) and connections to adjacent buildings and infrastructure.
Lightness, sustainability and colour
Responding to the constraints of the site, the East Wing is an extruded parallelogram that seems to float above the service road located at apron level. Its main facades are fully glazed and inclined at 26° to safeguard access to daylight for the buildings located immediately to the south on a very tight site. This arrangement also creates a dedicated volume for the arrivals corridor on the upper level and, on the airside, ensures the façade is protected against direct solar radiation.
One key concept of the East Wing design was the minimisation of internal structural elements to ensure transparency and offer passengers a breath-taking view of the Jura mountains, the activity on the apron level or tarmac, and the aircraft. The structure consists of a metal exoskeleton of approximately 7,000 tonnes of steel including floor modules with a span of 20 x 20m and 135 foundry pieces. The interior space is bathed in natural light from the 20,000m² of glazed facades.
Materials were chosen to accentuate the feeling of fluidity and lightness. The primary frame is painted in light grey, while the secondary structural elements are dark grey in colour. The floors are covered in natural stone, while the balustrades and vertical walls are glazed. The colour accompanies the movement and orientation of passengers along the East Wing and marks each 80m module throughout the length of the building. The materials used were chosen for their durability, their ease of maintenance and to serve as a showcase for passengers.
The building has been designed with the environment in mind. Good thermal insulation of the East Wing has been achieved by the deployment of high-performance triple-glazed facades, with additional solar protection limiting the use of artificial lighting and reducing heating and cooling loads.
Electricity is produced by a solar installation composed of 7,020m2 of photovoltaic panels on the roof. A further significant reduction of the energy footprint of the building has been achieved by the efficient thermal insulation of the building envelope, the recovery and use of rainwater and the use of high-efficiency heat pumps. The latter produce and store the thermal energy of 110 geothermal piles that run to a depth of 300m and will be able to connect in future to the hydro-thermal network GeniLac.