Rafael Vinoly’s Carrasco International Airport Imitates Undulating Landscape with Curved Roof

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Rafael Vinoly’s curved-roof airport was the first project he completed in his home country of Uruguay, in the capital city, Montevideo. His design of the Carrasco International Airport was centred on providing the best experience for those who travel, as well as those who come to see off or welcome travellers. The testament to that effort was the integration of public zones to the airport’s basic function of travelling.

Prominent public spaces were incorporated and made to stand out. Some of those spaces include a fully accessible roadside departure hall with a terrace and a secure concourse by the side of the runway. These two integrations all board open spaces with restaurants and retail shops which are graced by a breath-taking landscape and massive daylight.

The 365-metre gently curved roof is inspired by Uruguay’s undulating topography especially the rolling dunes along Uruguay’s Coastline. With dramatic but smooth flowing lines, the curvilinear structure integrates the building onto its site with spectacular geometry.

The interiors of the building accommodate arrivals and departures separated from each other by levels. The ground level takes care of the arrivals while departures are housed on the first floor. For accessing both levels, vehicular access roads independently service these two floors.

A landscaped terrace that occupies the second floor allows for amazing views of the runway and the main public concourse.

As if to keep up with other humongous transportation designs, the departures level continues the current tradition of glazing one large space on all its four sides; the addition of thin structural supports make the roof appear like it is floating on top of the building.

A fully glazed mezzanine level greets the travelers on the arrivals section, orienting them to the terminal space where they head to immigration before going into the baggage claim section then to customs.

The Carrasco International Airport is the largest project for Rafael Vinoly in Uruguay. Since his firm, Rafael Vinoly Architects, is based in the US, this project will remind him a lot about home. It is a source of pride for his countrymen. For the 3 million passengers who it now serves every year, it is a year-round timeless feat in a landscape it seems to complement, and will do so for a very long time to come.

Project Information
Architects: Rafael Vinoly Architects
Client: Puerta del Sur
Location: Montevideo, Uruguay
GFA: 32,000 sqm
Completed: 2009
Photography: Rafael Vinoly Architects

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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