Sondica Airport
Bilbao, Spain
1990 - 2000

Photos courtesy Santiago Calatrava archives

The Sondica Airport is located approximately 10 kilometers north of Bilbao, across the airfield from the original Bilbao terminal.

Santiago Calatrava was commissioned to design a new terminal, with four embarkation gates, when the Sondica Airport in 1990 had reached the limits of its development and could no longer  function as a transportation hub for the growing Basque region.
Because of the increased number of flights to this fast developing area four additional gates, with the possibility for future expansion, were added to the complex in 1994.  Sondica Airport is now able to handle 2 million passengers per year and will ultimately be able to accommodate up to 10 million.   A metro connection is planned for the near future.

The center of the complex is  a huge glazed  triangular hall, containing the administrative areas, restaurants and waiting areas.  The hall is covered by an aerodynamic roof that sweeps upwards in the direction of the airfield.
The waiting areas, located behind the glazed slanting facades, overlook the apron and runways.  The triangular plan follows the natural flow of passengers toward a transverse linear walkway leading to the gates.

A generously curved, glazed entrance on the north side of the terminal allows full use of the 36 meter (118 feet) traffic drop-off area. The elevated upper level is for departures, the lower level for arrivals.

The concrete structures of the east and west wings are clad in a unifying skin of aluminum.
A 100 meter (328 feet) subterranean passageway connects the airport to a four-story parking garage with room for 1,500 vehicles.  Partially recessed in the landscape the parking structure is integrated with the airport  both functionally and visually.
Calatravas plan for the airport allows for the future construction of auxiliary facilities, such as hotels and a recreational complex.

Client: Aeropuertos Espaņoles y Navegacion Aerea