The opening of Terminal 1 at the Barcelona Airport solidified Barcelona’s position as one of Europe’s top ten airports. RBTA designed a sleek sword-shaped structure that is flooded by natural light through its floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Some 100,000 passengers a day pass through the 5.8 million square-foot terminal, which is expected to welcome very soon 55 million per annum.
Situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the existing Terminal 2, completed by RBTA in 1992 for the Barcelona Olympic Games, T1 was conceived as a singular dynamic space under a huge vibrant roof; one space divided into two main areas, the processor and the piers. The main hall processor, under the wing-like roof, receives enormous light via its linear skylights. The 700 m long central pier and the side piers suggest the shape of an aircraft.
The new terminal functions as a communications gateway, linking Barcelona with the rest of Europe. T1 seeks to foster connections and traffic and to improve airport accessibility through different forms of transport (high-speed train, local trains and the future extension of Barcelona underground). It can accommodate an annual turnover of 25 million passengers, twice that of all present terminals combined. The building comprises of two main blocks under the same roof. One up to 500 meters wide, set aside for check-in, security and baggage collection. This section connects passengers to the different forms of transport. The other 700 meters long section accommodates the boarding lounges, waiting and shopping areas. The transparency of the building provides panoramic views of the runways, sea and greenery, while flooding the passenger reserved areas with natural light.
The terminal boasts a spa, fitness centre, hair salon, four VIP lounges, and a multi-faith chapel. The airport’s generous shopping area contains 51 shops, and 30 bars and restaurants. Business travellers have access to an extensive business centre that contains five offices and a multipurpose section with five board rooms. The centre includes a gym and a rest area.
Made of polished white granite, the unifying structure allows light to filter through the glass curtain walls and the skylights, creating a Mediterranean-style terminal. Ceramic-tile ceilings are slightly arched, lending a futuristic effect. The architecture of the interior of the terminal, known as the “Sky Centre”, blends straight and curved forms.
The terminal is one of the largest civil engineering projects recently undertaken in Europe. The structure was designed with sustainability in mind, placing hundreds of solar panels on the aluminium roof. Thus, 70 percent of the water in T1 is heated using thermal collectors. The curtain walls, which were designed to resist air, water infiltration, wind and its own dead load forces, are composed of an aluminium framing filled with glass. The effect is that of an architecturally-pleasing and light-filled structure.
The new processing building has 166 check-in desks and 52 auto check-in machines. Flight operations have been significantly improved. In 2004, the airport facilitated 64 operations per hour. Currently more than 90 flight operations occur per hour.
For two consecutive years, in 2011 and 2012, Barcelona-El Prat Airport has been selected the best airport in Southern Europe and has received the Skytrax award. The prize, in the framework of the 20th Annual General Assembly of the ACI (Airports Council International) was awarded on the basis of the excellence and achievements in areas such as quality of services (both for users and companies), commercial supply, safety or environmental awareness, among others.