The Kansai Airport was conceived as an organic complex shaped by the circulatory flows of passengers and air. The building, which sits on a mile–long man–made island in the Bay of Osaka, incorporates a central volume running the length of the island, flanked by two transverse wings. This central corridor, lined with plantings, guides one hundred thousand passengers a day through the terminal from the land–facing side of the island to the runways, continuously orienting them relative to their surroundings through views to the outside. Pictured here is a study model for a structural truss that spans the length of the terminal's central spine.
Streams of air are a major conceptual force in the formal articulation of the terminal. Ventilation air is channeled passively from the passenger entry through to the runways by a suspended skin that wraps the underside of the structure, eliminating the need for enclosed air ducts. The roof's form emerged from intensive studies of the flow of air currents through the building; topological geometries never before applied to architecture were used to define its complex curvature. The terminal's fluid structural form merges cutting–edge technology with nature in a synthesized whole.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, p. 125.