newsletter link
mondo arc

Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain

Issue 33 Oct / Nov 2006 : Architectural : Transport


Richard Rogers’ dynamically designed airport has been nominated for a Stirling Prize. the lighting is equally as inspirational. Jonathan Speirs explains...

This has to be the most stunning airport in the world. Designed by the competition winning team of Richard Rogers Partnership and Estudio Lamella the experience of arriving and travelling through the airport is a joy. It is a transport interchange that is all about the passenger experience.
From the macro to micro scale the level of architectural attention was exemplary. The architects’ clear and intelligent planning diagram that ensures a logical and intuitive wayfinding process. The attention to detail at the smallest scale is tremendous - the building shines.
This was one of those archetypal projects where the whole team really contributed to the success of the project, a real team effort.
Speirs and Major Associates were asked by the architects to work with them on the artificial lighting design with the natural lighting design being handled by Andy Sedgwick of Arup Lighting and a local Spanish practice called Biosca & Botty. The Speirs and Major Associates experience of working with RRP on Terminal Five at Heathrow certainly proved to be very valuable and ensured a smooth and easy transition into the project.
The process started with a full analysis of the originally proposed lighting design from the competition winning scheme. A series of design charrettes were held at the architect’s Madrid project site offices to debate and consider the options that were open to the team.
One of the amazing aspects of the project was that for something as complicated as an airport the lighting design comprises only a few components.
In the original design a series of “streetpoles” were proposed ranging across the upper level of the airport. They began outside on the elevated forecourt in the pick up and drop off areas for the concourse and progressed through all the upper levels of the project.
It was generally felt that an alternative solution to the poles would provide a series of benefits to the architecture and the experience of the traveller.
Firstly the removal of objects from the floor reduced both physical and visual clutter as well as permitting greater flexibility of use of space in the future. Secondly within the parameters of a tight budget the opportunity of illuminating parts of the architecture, seemed to the team to be both a logical approach as well as being financially achievable.
The idea evolved to utilise a mirror system located at the upper parts of the sinuous roof as part of the ETFE disc rooflights. The translucent roof lights softened the daylight entering the building and also diffused this light back onto the adjacent roof panels. The circular lensed mirror panels redirected the light back onto the required zones of the concourse as well as catching the colourful structure. Various locations for the uplights were studied before the suspended solution became the primary focus. Utilising uplights with a wider beam distribution rather than just focusing on the mirrors meant illumination of the circular roof light as well as an area of the bamboo roof. It was decided that to attempt to illuminate the entire roof structure would have flattened the dynamic undulation, so by focusing the light at the crowns the rhythmical volume of the space is further enhanced at night.
The suspended frames that carried the uplights were designed by RRP. This design approach dealt with the main upper level spaces. Metal halide luminaires were located in the canyons at the slab edges to light down onto the floor zones and baggage reclaim areas. This means that views upto the roof structure are clear from glare and the luminaire locations are easily accessible from a cherry picker for maintenance.
The lower level areas utilise a composite circular ceiling luminaire, affectionately referred to by the team during the design process as “the wok”! The design evolved to be able to provide both downlighting and thanks to a reflector ring suspended below the downlight also an element of reflected light. This reflected light back into the woks attracting the eye to the lit surface rather than allowing the eye to see the concrete soffit and services that runs above them. The woks effectively avoided the requirement for a suspended ceiling across all the areas. This made a significant financial saving, a simple but effective design approach.
Within the light rail station at the very lowest levels it was felt that the use of woks in this area was not ideal. Instead a solution utilising perimeter located downlighting and security screen lighting at low level provided an intimate and more relaxing environment prior to ascending into the more generously illuminated spaces.
Barajas is one of the six finalists for the 2006 Stirling Prize - Building of the Year. It is hoped that not only will it be a well deserved win for the architectural team but it will also be the fourth winning Stirling Prize project where Speirs and Major Associates has created the lighting design solution.

technical information

Architect: Richard Rogers Partnership & Estudio Lamela
Lighting Consultant: Speirs & Major Associates
Daylighting: Arup Lighting, Biosca and Botty
Lighting: Siteco H3 circular surface mounted luminaires, Siteco Mirrortec System with Fresnel facettes and axially symmetric R2 Maxi projectors, Siteco DUS trunking system with Monsun, Siteco Asymmetrical A2 Maxi floodlights, Siteco Louvre luminaires, iGuzzini Platea luminaires


Barajas Barajas Barajas
  • Barajas
  • Barajas
  • Barajas
Related Articles


Follow us on…

Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Twitter Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Facebook Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Linked In

mondo arc india

darc awards DWLF IALD PLDC LRO