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Carrasco Airport, Montevideo, Uruguay

Issue 57 Oct / Nov 2010 : Architectural : Airport

ARCHITECT: Rafael Viñoly Architects, Carla Bechelli Arquitectos LIGHTING DESIGN: Ricardo Hofstadter

Sheltered from the Atlantic by the natural protection of the Rio de la Plata inlet, Montevideo has always been the main transport hub of Uruguay, handling nearly all of the country’s import and export needs. To reach it by air, visitors touch down at Carrasco International Airport, located about 11 miles east of the capital.

First opened back in 1947, it has struggled in recent years to meet the increasing demands placed on it by a prospering tourism industry and the location’s growing significance as a commercial and banking centre. A new arrival and departure terminal was urgently required and owners Puerta del Sur contracted Uruguayan-born, American architect Rafael Viñoly to create a new design.

His solution was a stand-alone, linear structure dominated by a 366-metre long roof that arcs elegantly across the site. Despite its monolithic appearance, the roof seems to rest - almost as if floating - on the space-frame structure and angled glass walls that rise up to meet it. Inside, a spacious main hall contains a ground floor arrivals zone, a departure area on the upper level and, above these, a large public viewing platform and restaurant overlooking both the runway outside and the bustle of passengers below.

“In Uruguay, friends and family still come to greet you at the airport or see you off,” says Viñoly, “so this terminal provides great spaces for the people who aren’t travelling as well as those who are. The atrium, the main hall, the terrace, and the passenger concourse make this a dramatic and welcoming place for everyone.”

Throughout the space, white and silver-grey, glass, metal and polished stone surfaces dominate - helping to achieve the fresh, airy, light atmosphere.

Ricardo Hofstadter was commissioned to create a lighting scheme that would augment the use of natural daylight - working with the architect from the design phase through to the construction stages.
It was clear from the outset that no fixtures could be recessed into the vast ceiling. Consequently, lighting of the hall and exterior canopies had to be designed entirely with indirect fixtures.

The resultant architectural spaces are presented as spacious halls that are flooded with light yet offer maximum visual comfort. The space is glare-free despite an average illuminance of approximately 300 lx. In the indoor area, Hofstadter opted for ERCO Parscoop IV washlights for 400W metal halide lamps, mounted on the horizontal booms of the spaceframe structure. With their asymmetrical light intensity distribution, these provide a uniform illumination of the roof without producing any discernable beam edges.

Though Uruguay has no regulations regarding power consumption, the team were careful not to exceed reasonable power density limits. With an average lamp life of 12,000 operating hours and a connected load of approximately 14W/m2, the design sets a high standard, not only in terms of architectural lighting quality but also in maintenance and energy consumption.

Compact ERCO Powercast projectors for 250W metal halide lamps provide the continuation of the indirect illumination of the roof canopy into the outdoor area. Their flooding, axially symmetrical light intensity distribution with an oval beam from precise Spherolit reflectors were set using the mounting bracket’s adjustable angle of tilt.

Back inside, in the departure gate area, the glass walls fold back at right angles into the horizontal plane, allowing a direct view of the sky.
Powerful ERCO Optec spotlights are discreetly integrated into the support struts, providing concentrated direct lighting. Metal halide lamps are again used here, this time 70W versions. A recessed-mounted variation of these direct lighting components is found in the retail, VIP and restaurant zones in the form of ERCO Gimbal recessed spotlights for 35W and 70W metal halide lamps. These luminaires have a cardanic suspension, allowing the narrow, rotationally symmetrical light intensity distribution to be precisely aimed.

In combination, the spaces help create an easy transit experience - and a positive lasting impression - for the 1.5 million passengers who pass through Carrasco International Airport each year.

Project Details
Carrasco Airport, Montevideo, Uruguay
Client: Puerta del Sur
Lighting Design: Ricardo Hofstadter
Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects, New York; Carla Bechelli Arquitectos, Buenos Aires
Photographs: Rogerio Reis, Rio de Janeiro - all rights ERCO

Lighting Specified
ERCO: Parscoop IV washlights for 400W metal halide lamps, Powercast projectors for 250W metal halide lamps, Optec spotlights for 70W metal halide lamps, Gimbal rescessed spots 35W/70W
iGuzzini: Reflex 8377 35 and 70 W ceramic metal halide, Maxiwoody 5658 with sculpture lens 150 W metal halide, Miniwoody with 35 W ceramic metal halid lamp
3F Filippi: model L450 3DEC continuous fluorescent 2x36 T8
Troll: downlight for 2x26W compact fluorescent lamps (toilets)


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