New Gates for Asia
by Clair Enlow
This spring Incheon Airport brings South Korea, and all of Asia, closer to the rest of the world. Asia's newest high-tech airport reaches out from a man-made land bridge between two islands in the Yellow Sea. Incheon will make Seoul a new rival to Hong Kong and Osaka as gateway to the East.
Begun in 1992, the 6,000,000-square-foot (560,000-square-meter) airport opened in March, 2001 and is expected to serve 27 million passengers in its first year. There are plans to build a companion terminal and double the capacity by 2020.
The design of the terminal, by Fentress Bradburn Architects of Denver in association with Korean Architects Collaborative International, is based on a concept picked from among ten submittals in an international competition.
It is one of the largest contiguous airports in the world, and one of only four greater than 2,000,000 square feet (185,000 square meters). Along with Denver International Airport, also designed by Fentress, these giant projects of the 1990s include Kansai Airport in Osaka, designed by Renzo Piano, and Chek Lap Kok Airport in Hong Kong, designed by Norman Foster.
Powerfully symmetrical and remotely situated, Incheon looks like an all-embracing space station from the air. And like a space station, it is largely self-contained — designed not only to be self sufficient but to function with minimal impact on the natural environment.
An overview of the terminal and the Yellow Sea.
Photo: Korean Airport Construction Authority
Jetways extend from the councourse end.
Photo: Nick Merrick/Hedrich Blessing
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