Lyon Airport Station
Satolas, France
1989 - 1994

Photos courtesy Santiago Calatrava archives

Invited competition

The Lyon Airport Station connects Lyon and the Saint-Exupéry Airport, in Satolas.  The competition brief called for a building that would provide smooth passenger flow while creating an exciting and symbolic ³gateway to the region.²

The glazed triangular Central Hall,  spanning 120 meters, sweeps upward toward a service concourse on the east side, that accommodates ticket offices, retail shops, restaurant facilities, a temporary exhibition space, and access to the airport. This multilevel service block leaves the Central Hall  free of visual obstructions. The service concourse is connected to the airport by a raised, 180-meter steel gallery,which in turn connects to a covered extension for pedestrian access to the parking garage, underground service area and elevators.

The dramatic form of the Central Hall, resembling a bird at the point of flight, derives from one of Calatrava¹s sculptures. The steel roof is composed of four converging arches with a curved, tapering, arched spine.

The inner arches, which support the central spine, spring from a lintel placed across the elevator towers, the outer arches spring from two tapering concrete buttresses on each side of, and beyond, the eastern facade.  A single, sculpted, V-shaped, concrete footing supports the arches at their point of convergence on the west.

Glazed side screens fill the area between the central, concrete arches of the Platform Hall and the two outer steel spans of the concourse roof, stabilizing the structure.  The arches to either side of the central concourse also form the portals to the platforms.  Floodlights are recessed into the upper, exterior surfaces of the portal arches, providing reflected illumination onto the concourse.

The Platform Hall, on the project¹s lower level, spans a central enclosed caisson, which shields waiting passengers from the non-stop, high-speed trains (300 km/h) that run on two central tracks.

The caisson¹s cover forms the walkway of the platform hall, a 500 meter long, arched concrete structure, bridged at two points by a unifying, symmetrical road pattern.  Access to the platforms is provided via concrete bridges, stairs, escalators and glass elevators.

A concrete vault of intersecting diagonal arches spans the platforms to create a lamella roof spanning 53 meters. The structure was cast in situ, including recesses for light fittings.  Through the use a local white sand in the mix, the concrete has a natural color. Above the tracks, the matrix of this roof is open to the sky; above the platforms, it is either glazed or filled with prefabricated concrete slabs.

Four tracks serve the station, two on each side of the central walkway, and provision has been made for two further tracks outside the platform hall to serve ³Satorail,² the future regional connection to Lyon.

Client: Région Rhone-Alpes & SNCF