Marco Polo Airport is an important part of northern Italy's transport infrastructure we foster to use to arrive in Italy and visit the most inspiring Italian design factories. This gateway is the third such intercontinetal hub in the country, as it includes connections to North America and the Middle East and well connected by train, railway or highway to Milan. Marco Polo Airport serves as a base for Volotea and easyJet and many airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Venice. There is another airport located in the Venice area, Treviso Airport, which is sometimes unofficially labelled as Venice-Treviso and mostly serves low-cost airlines, mainly Ryanair and Wizz Air.
The reconfiguration of Marco Polo is based on a development plan that runs from 2012 – 2021, aimed at radically reshaping the airport to accommodate increased traffic, without compromising on safety and efficiency. In 2016, Marco Polo Airport completed the Water Terminal: a new 5,000 sqm terminal linking passengers to Venice.
One Works, leader of the top 50 Italian largest architecture firms, has this year completed Phase 1 of a major development plan for Marco Polo Airport, with expansive new facilities carefully integrated into the existing fabric of the airport. Working alongside SAVE Engineering, One Works – a global design and consultancy firm with a specialism in transport architecture and engineering – has overseen the complex architectural and structural challenges involved in bringing the airport up to 21 st century standards. The extension is defined by a new 280-metre-long plaza featuring a dramatic gridshell roof that allows sunlight to filter down to the passengers below.
Inaugurated on June 17, the new 11,000 sqm extension creates a kind of forecourt for the airport, improving accessibility to the terminal and connecting passengers to the dock via the new moving walkway; from here passengers can travel to Venice in style by Vaporetto or water taxi. The new forecourt , which will accommodate passengers arriving from all means of transport (including train journeys in future development phases), is comprised of an 280 – metre – long, fully glazed gallery that takes advan tage of the 22 – metre – wide interstitial space left free in the original complex between the terminal and the dual level road. This allows the new forecourt to offer generous, light-filled spaces, for departures and arrivals, with a lightweight roof structur e that offers strategic flexibility.
The new distribution layout has been developed to marry the functional requirements of the day-to-day terminal operations but also to embrace the beauty of the spectacular views of the Venice lagoon, which embarking pas sengers receive from the commercial square. One Works has created a harmonious dialogue between the original airport buildings and the new extensions, ensuring that the iconic lagoon landmark is expanded sustainably, now and in the future.
Inspired by the traditions of Venetian glass, a new VIP area, known as the Marco Polo Lounge, is characterised by the use of glass, both as a form generator and as a finishing material. The lounge is configured as two contrasting spaces with their own singular identities. On one side, overlooking the track and bathed in natural light, is the main relaxation area featuring floor-to-ceiling glass walls and an undulating ceiling that blends with the parquet floor. On the other side of the partition glass is an area close to the central core of the airport, dedicated to ancillary functions and services such as the reception, cloakroom, changing rooms, toilets, storage and food preparation areas. Between these two spaces there are two further rest spots and the lounge also boasts a new winter garden that partially covers the existing terrace.
The Marco Polo Airport project comprises a phased extension program that will add more than 100,000 sqm to the existing terminal to meet the most complex functional, architectural and constructive demands in the landside and airside areas, for over 15 million passengers expected every year. This project will accommodate the required traffic capacity up until 2030, whilst respecting the fragile ecosystem of the neighbouring lagoon and the historic centre of Venice. The project will also provide greater comfort and accessibility to increased numbers of international passengers, offering spaces with higher quality standards.
In order to meet the highest European standards, security and infrastructure capabilities consistent with demand for an adequate level of service, as well as environmental and economic sustainability are key factors for the success of the strategic masterplan. The approach adopted will also allow the complexity of infrastructure integration with potential urban development to be easily managed and will create greater accessibility; also a key objective for the development of the airport and part of the long-term strategic masterplan, for which One Works is also providing consultant support.
The success of the project is based on a perfect balance between the so-called ‘hard' areas, mainly represen ted by the connections between the levels and the structural dimensions, and the ‘soft' areas, which includes flexible surfaces that can be modified, with low investment, to suit the operating and commercial needs of the airport. The big challenge runs along the joining lines between old and new parts of the airport.
Image courtesy of One Works