Project team:

Architecture and daylight design: Serrano Architects, Mexico D.F.
Lighting design and daylight consultants: Francisco Caridad and
Gilberto Vásquez del Mercado for Starco, Mexico D.F.


Products applied:

"Light package" custom luminaire designed by Starco
"Slot" linear fixtures, Zumtobel
Custom spherical luminaires designed by Starco using Zumtobel

19. Jul 2009

The ‘hole’ story

Text: Prof. Susanne Brenninkmeijer
Photos: Pedro Hiriart, Jaime Navarroro, Joachim Ritter

To allow daylight into a building it makes sense to create openings in the facade. In conventional buildings these openings generally take the form of windows. The approach taken by Serrano Architects for the unique facade and ceiling design they developed for the new Terminal 2 building at Mexico City Airport is a different story altogether. In a country such as Mexico, located as it is at 20 degrees of latitude, one of the prime goals when designing public buildings is to ensure the climate inside the structure is comfortable for the users. With an average of eight hours of sunshine per day throughout most of the year, and temperatures of almost 30 degrees in the shade every day over the warm summer months, room climate literally becomes key to survival. Given that Mexico City, the country’s capital, is located 2,200 metres above sea level, the situation here is somewhat different. The sky is often overcast, which is not true of most of the rest of the country. The new Terminal 2 even looks beautiful under cloudy skies, but comes into its own when sunlight comes into play. The obvious design task, and indeed challenge, was how to change the openings or windows to ensure there is sufficient incident daylight, while at the same time not over-illuminating the interiors and maintaining a low thermal load. Serrano applied the principle of a sieve to reduce the amount of incident daylight without creating an impression of darkness. The architects consistently designed and applied a perforated facade structure for practically all the outer walls of the new airport terminal in the mega city. These allow daylight to penetrate the building with an interesting spin-off in the form of a play of light and shadow over the interior walls and floor. When viewed from the outside after dark the different sections of the building become glowing, almost floating boxes of light.The Terminal 2 building differs radically from many other public buildings in Mexico, most of which aim to keep sunlight strictly outside. Solar protection is usually realised in the form of solid walls, which keep the interiors cool and relatively dark. […]

The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 67

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