Stunning “terminal in a garden” welcomes travellers to new Indian transport hub


SOM’s new “terminal in a garden” welcomes global travellers to Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, India.

Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has announced that the new Terminal 2 at Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru (BLR) is now welcoming international passengers.

Inspired by the city of Bengaluru’s reputation as “the garden city”, Terminal 2 is a serene multimodal transit hub that radically reimagines the airport experience. The 255,000-square-metre terminal, which increases the airport’s annual passenger capacity by 25 million, is a striking civic gateway that emphasizes Bengaluru’s rich culture and natural landscape. The new construction marks a transformative moment for one of India’s largest cities and establishes BLR Airport as one of the world’s premier airports.

In the front of Terminal 2, a 123,000-square-metre multi-modal transit hub will serve as the nexus for the entire airport and a connector between BLR Airport and the city of Bengaluru. This upcoming T-shaped, two-level space simplifies access to public transit and acts as an outdoor retail, event and entertainment area for locals and travellers alike.

From this transit hub, through the terminal entrance and extending to the gates, passengers experience a series of spaces tied together by lush landscaping, both interior and exterior, overhead and sunken. The design establishes a new vision for sustainable growth, serving as an opportunity to revitalise Bengaluru’s sense of place. Terminal 2 serves as a new civic square for the city of Bengaluru, a gateway to BLR Airport’s international destinations, and a calming oasis within the bustle of an international airport.

“We are happy to announce that international operations have begun at Terminal 2 (T2) of Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru,” said Hari Marar, managing director and CEO of Bangalore International Airport Ltd. “With this move, we are looking forward to serving passengers from different countries and destinations at the new state-of-the-art terminal. While our domestic operations are divided between T1 and T2, international operations will be exclusive to T2. We are committed to serving our passengers with the most innovative processes and customer service that will ease their journey, making it seamless and unforgettable,” said Marar.

Conceived as a ‘terminal in a garden’, SOM’s design, in collaboration with landscape architects Grant Associates and designers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla (AJSK), connects travellers to nature. The main terminal block, which houses check-in, immigration, security, retail, arrivals and baggage claim, is separated from Terminal 2’s gates by a multilevel ‘forest belt’, a 90-metre-wide swath of lushly planted landscape, marked by indigenous flora, meandering paths and multi-storey pavilions clad in bamboo.

For arriving and departing passengers alike, the network of bridges and outdoor pathways create an immersive and calming experience, juxtaposing the activity of an international airport. Throughout the terminal, a variety of hanging plantings and skylights complete the space with rich, sensory detail. The finishes emulate the textured local landscape with bamboo materials and custom furnishings clad in locally sourced ivory brown granite, umbered red bricks, and traditionally woven rattan. The garden design reminds travellers of the rich landscape scenery of the verdant city.

SOM managing partner Laura Ettelman commented: “For Terminal 2, SOM’s design inverts every expectation of how an airport can look and feel. With a focus on the passenger, we have created a rich, sensory experience.”

The terminal has received the Indian Green Building Council Platinum certification for its sustainable architecture and design. In addition to the visible extensive outdoor areas, the terminal implements numerous sophisticated sustainable innovations, enabling the terminal to run entirely on renewable energy. The abundant vegetation uses water that is harvested on site and the indoor waterfalls cool the interior environment.

SOM structural engineering principal Preetam Biswas said: “Right from the inception, the engineering was focused on reduced embodied carbon and designing a structure that maximises the use of the material sourced and fabricated locally, making it a beacon of the government’s ‘Make in India’ policy.”

All of the terminal gates are equipped to handle single wide-body aircraft for international flights or two narrow-body aircraft for domestic flights. The terminal provides 13 wide-body gates, which can alternate as 28 narrow-body aircraft gates and expand to 20 wide-body gates in the future. This adaptable plan prevents gates from sitting idle for long periods, shielding the terminal from obsolescence.

Now marking SOM’s second major airport terminal design in India (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai was completed in 2014), Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru’s Terminal 2 is designed to thrive as an international travel hub well into the future.