Zurich Airport planning a sustainable wooden dock


Flughafen Zürich AG has delivered the winning project for the construction of the new Dock A with tower and dock base as part of a project tender. The winning project “Raumfachwerk” by the planning team comprising BIG, HOK and 10:8 Architekten will be built largely of wood and will set new standards in terms of sustainable terminal buildings. The new Dock A will be constructed over the next 10 years. 

Zurich Airport has been connecting Switzerland with the world for almost 75 years. As the requirements for flight operations are constantly changing and airport buildings reach the end of their useful lives, they also have to be continuously refurbished, expanded or replaced. For example, Terminal 2 underwent extensive refurbishments until 2015, and the baggage sorting system has now been renewed and expanded. After over 35 years in operation, Dock A has now reached the end of its life cycle and has to be replaced. 

An expert jury selected “Raumfachwerk” 

The eleven-member jury from a range of fields, chaired by Basel-based architect Harry Gugger, was most impressed by the “Raumfachwerk” project – one of ten projects submitted. Zurich Airport is thus set to construct what will probably be the largest airport dock built largely of wood. 

The ‘Raumfachwerk’ project was the most impressive, in particular in terms of sustainability, operations and the economic aspects, but also as regards urban planning and the architecture. 

Andreas Schmid, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Flughafen Zürich AG

The winning team with BIG 

The “Raumfachwerk” winning team with renowned architect Bjarke Ingels as the lead, is a cooperation between a number of firms. In addition to his architects’ firm BIG based in Copenhagen/New York, these include the firm HOK based in the USA, which specialises in airport buildings and has already completed many projects, mainly at large airports around the world. Another is the Zurich-based architects’ firm 10:8, which was responsible for the renovation of Oerlikon station, for example. The international engineering and consultancy firm Buro Happold has extensive experience in airport construction and is also part of the team. With Pirmin Jung, a Swiss engineering firm specialising in wood construction, the team will receive key support in terms of the wooden structure and regional production. 

Sustainable construction methods 

The new Dock A will be built largely from sustainable wood on the passenger levels – which is so far unique for a terminal building of this size. The whole surface of the new dock’s roof and the dock base will be used for photovoltaics, covering around two thirds of the dock’s annual electricity requirement. The new building will thus make a major contribution to Flughafen Zürich AG’s ambitious CO2 reduction strategy.

For Zurich Airport's new Dock A, we tried to meet the complex global challenge of Co2 reduction with the simplest possible solution: A space framework made of solid timber that is structure, spatial experience, architectural design and organizing principle all in one. The simple yet expressive design – rooted in tradition and committed to innovation - embodies the cultural and natural elements of Swiss architecture.

Bjarke Ingels, architect, founder and director of BIG, in New York

A quality experience for passengers 

The new Dock A will provide passengers with an enhanced experience, a better view of the apron, thanks to the large windows, and spacious waiting areas at the gates. The retail and culinary offering in the new dock base will also be expanded. The short routes, currently appreciated by passengers at Zurich Airport, will be retained and will be significantly more attractive, thanks to the new spaces. 

New Dock A will be built alongside existing Dock A

The current Dock A will remain operational during construction of the new Dock A, as around one third of all passengers depart or arrive there. Once the new dock has been built to the north of the current Dock A, operations will be transferred seamlessly to it. The current Dock A will then be dismantled. 

Construction of the new Dock A is set to start in 2030. The investment in the new Dock A, including the new tower and dock base, is put at around CHF 700 million.

New Dock A with tower