The Central Terminal Building at OR Tambo International Airport is a complex piece of infrastructural design that required the creation of a functional ‘bridge’ between the domestic and international terminals, thereby consolidating the airport precinct. The high profile project had to meet specific criteria of functionality, budget, design continuity, as well as usability. In addition, it had to incorporate the central terminal to connect with the Gautrain High Speed Rail link.
The Central Terminal Building is accessed through an external canopy entrance, designed to detract as little as possible from the façade, preserving visibility, and providing shelter. The building is designed using a 15-metre structural grid, a concrete frame and post-tensioned slabs. The plant rooms and overall roof is designed as a steel structure.
The main feature of the building is the atrium that functions as the hub of the airport precinct. Gigantic V-shaped concrete columns run the entire height of the building and support a tilted circular butterfly ‘winged roof’ over a conical clerestory. The columns, that reference Baobab trees, required the use of 3D modelling software in order to realise their complex structural design.