Aviation

Taking off
while settling in

Stability is everything when you are working on the World’s largest airport. Combining sustainability and technical know-how is just one way in which our experts are rising to this challenge on the Mexico City New International Airport project.

One of the world’s most prestigious airports is being built on soft sinking soil. Creating solutions for the unequal modification of the static and dynamic properties that will host 120 million passengers per year is a challenge worth sinking our teeth into.

Like Mexico City, its newest airport (due 2020) is built on the Lake Texcoco lake bed. Extensive pumping to extract water from underneath the city for its 21 million residents causes the land above it to sink at a very visible rate; a problem that most historic buildings in the city centre clearly show the result of. Structures of buildings both sink as well as tilt in different places. This is because the different kinds of layers of subsoil vary a lot. A sustainable design needs to ensure the airport’s stability on every inch and for years to come.

The Dutch have long standing expertise with designing for unstable land. “Working on a dynamic soil is in our DNA”, says Kjell Kloosterziel, Project Director at NACO “In fact, it’s how we build our country. However, the scale of this project is rather unique.” Stabilising the infrastructure around a terminal of 560,000 square metres on a total lot of 4,600 hectares that unequally sinks approximately 10 centimetres per year!

Mexico City’s new International Airport will be one of the world’s largest airports and revolutionises airport design. NACO, a company of Royal HaskoningDHV, together with TADCO and SACMAG (for the Civil Infrastructure) and with Foster + Partners and FR-EE (Fernando Romero Enterprise) for the Terminal Building, are working on what is set to be the world’s most sustainable airport. Creating flexible connections between the building and its various infrastructural access points is one of the many challenges faced. As is the sustainable foundation of the long stretched runways (up to 4,500 metres) for bountiful smooth take offs and ever soft landings.

Fourteen steps added to the Angel of Independence statue as Mexico sinks deeper into Lake Texcoco.

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PAUL GOVAERTS, DIRECTOR, NACO, A COMPANY OF ROYAL HASKONINGDHV

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