Thailand plans to add $1.8 billion terminal at Bangkok's main airport

Thailand plans to add $1.8 billion terminal at Bangkok's main airport

Bangkok’s main airport is planning to add a stunning A$1.8 billion terminal with extensive wooden cladding and an indoor forested landscape.

Tropical forests inspired the blueprint for the building and the aim is to give travelers a feeling of Thailand’s uniqueness, 52-year-old architect Duangrit Bunnag said in an interview. However, he rejected concerns from the Engineering Institute of Thailand that the structure could be a fire hazard.

“Airports tend to have similar features – they’re white, cold and metallic,” Duangrit said.

“I wanted a design that immediately gives travelers the feeling they’ve arrived in Thailand. It will be a metal structure covered with wood. Different treatments can be applied to the timber to ensure fire resistance.”

Duangrit’s design features sweeping arches and giant columns clad in wood. He also proposed an enclosed tropical-forest landscape spanning about 16,000m² between two buildings of the terminal. Passengers would be able to see but not to enter the landscape, a symbol for ecological protection.

“The difficulty in designing the terminal is how to make it memorable to travelers from around the world,” Duangrit said. “How do I make it look different to all the other airports?”

Airports of Thailand, the biggest Asian airport operator by market capitalization, announced last month that it was awarding the design contract to a joint bid by Duangrit Bunnag Architect and Japan’s Nikken Sekkei.

The state-controlled firm expects to boost annual passenger capacity by 30 million by building a second terminal at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport. Construction is due to start next year and finish by 2021.

A tourism boom is straining the country’s infrastructure, putting pressure on officials to tackle bottlenecks. Foreign arrivals could hit 40 million next year – equivalent to more than half the population.

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9 comments

  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    25 Sep, 2018 08:04 am

    On my most recent visit earlier this year, I waited about 50 minutes in the BKK immigration queue.

    One of my three or four longest waits at any airport.

    Existing airport doesn't cope well. I've also read criticisms of its design.
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  • TheFreqFlyer

    TheFreqFlyer

    5 Jun, 2019 05:42 pm

    Agreed. It's not very efficient, however, anything is better than Don Muang, which, both in the past and today still sees hour long waits as standard. Last year 3-hour waits at that airport's immigration line made the news. Suvarnabhumi, despite it's faults is far more efficient but needs to improve it's efficiency further. Extending the e-gates from Singaporean and HK passport holders to all nationalities that are eligible for a 30-day visa exemption (Aussies included) would certainly help. Probably won't happen for another year or two though.
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  • Saab34

    Saab34

    25 Sep, 2018 09:32 am

    ‘Construction is due to start next year and finish by 2021’

    We in this country seem to start things one year and finish them 10 years later. Great to see

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    TheFreqFlyer

  • Mark

    Mightyreds

    25 Sep, 2018 10:32 am

    But in Thailand they might finish quickly, but you can guarantee the quality won’t be fantastic. Not to mention they don’t maintain infrastructure as they should. The existing terminal is very tired looking considering the age of the building.
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  • Jay

    ausJCP

    25 Sep, 2018 03:13 pm

    Yes it's amazing what you can achieve when you pay the laborers a slave wage, ignore employment rights, and do away with workplace safety.
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  • Jay

    ausJCP

    25 Sep, 2018 03:35 pm

    I applaud the unique nature of the architecture; a very exciting and ambitious airport design!


    Given the climate in Bangkok, I imagine it's going to be a nightmare trying to regulate the temperature in this all-glass-facade terminal.


    The current BKK airport terminal is quite warm inside, to the point of being uncomfortable on the top departure level. The building design has a lot of covered areas to provide shade and reduce glass surface area, but still doesn't stop the building from acting like a giant greenhouse.


    It would be nice to see renewable energy play a role in powering this future terminal (for powering what will be a very energy-thirsty air conditioning system). Such an enormous expanse of roof in a sunny location like Thailand just screams out for photovoltaic generation.

    It would also be nice if they brought a lot of that beautiful greenery into the terminal; Changi does this quite nicely, however Suvarnabhumi seals the leafy foliage into two large, untouchable glass courtyards.

    Look forward to more capacity at Suvarnabhumi. Say what you will, the existing terminal's layout is fantastic, however it's now at capacity and in need of the new terminal. Shifting all the LCC's to Don Mueng was always only ever going to be a temporary fix.

    Look forward to seeing the finished product!
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    TheFreqFlyer

  • ExLibris76

    ExLibris76

    26 Sep, 2018 02:42 pm

    Very true @ausJCP, but I'd go further than say it's just 'warm'. At times, it's absolutely hot inside. The glass covering is only one reason though; the other is the sheer stinginess of A.O.T. who refuse to set the aircon to its optimum levels.
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  • TheFreqFlyer

    TheFreqFlyer

    5 Jun, 2019 05:27 pm

    They must have started last year already because as of late May 2019, the terminal looks more than half finished. Doubt that Bloomberg got their dates right. As is often the case in Thailand, construction could be finished quickly but the terminal won't open for a while afterwards. Seen the same thing happen with a new cross border bridge in NW Thailand. Bridge was officially opened by Thai and Burmese PMs in March, but almost 3 months later, still no indication of when it will actually open to traffic. Apparently Burmese side is lacking computers! Yes, but rather than donate the computers, both sides prefer to have locals and tourists have to dodge their way around 4-5km long traffic snarls causing by trucks waiting to cross the border, when a perfectly good bridge with far more parking space is available instead.
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  • Erindoors

    Erindoors

    25 Sep, 2018 12:43 pm

    Very busy always queues,but older folk get the quick lane! Always helpful staff!
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24 Jul, 2019 07:21 pm

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