‘Airport Terminal in a Garden’ in India welcomes first international passengers
A first-of-its-kind ‘airport terminal in a garden’ has opened in India, putting nature and biodiversity at the heart of the passenger experience.
Terminal 2 at Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru (BLR Airport) has successfully reinvented the idea of a traditionally stressful and bustling airport landscape, thanks in part to the vision of international landscape architects Grant Associates – designers of the iconic Gardens by the Bay in Singapore - in collaboration with SOM.
BLR Airport’s new terminal is an airport terminal unlike any other in the world. Its innovative design offers passengers an immersive and authentic nature-focused experience; the unique flora that occupies the new terminal has been sourced from multiple ecological habitats in India, showcasing the beauty of nature and Karnataka’s culture.
The unique flora that adorns the terminal's interior has been meticulously curated from diverse ecological habitats within India, serving as a captivating tribute to the splendour of nature and Karnataka's vibrant culture. 600-800-year-old trees meet with over 180 rare, endangered and threatened species, all combining to cultivate a thriving ecosystem that embraces both India's heritage and forward-thinking sustainability.
Adding to the garden-like environment is the extensive use of natural materials including bamboo cladding and local natural stone. Lush internal and external gardens punctuate the passenger's journey, with the centrepiece being a breathtaking 10-metre-tall green wall that runs the length and breadth of the terminal adorned with over 450 extraordinary plant species. The planting not only captivates the eye but also contributes to the terminal's environmental conditioning, all nourished by an automated irrigation system fed by harvested rainwater.
Reflecting Bengaluru City's global renown for its picturesque parks and gardens, the new terminal at Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru seamlessly encapsulates Karnataka’s rich history and culture. The airport's expansion, executed in two phases, encompasses a staggering 255,645 square meters, poised to accommodate up to 25 million passengers annually.
Grant Associates was appointed by Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) in May 2016 to deliver on this truly unique brief. The international landscape architecture practice, which employs over 70 landscape architecture professionals in its studios in Bath, UK and Singapore, has proven experience of delivering numerous remarkable projects at scale, including the world-renowned Gardens by the Bay in Singapore and, most recently, the historic Superbloom transformation of the Tower of London in 2022 that attracted over 250,000 visitors.
Grant Associates had to creatively overcome several sizeable challenges to make the biodiversity-focused vision a reality, including how to create a lush internal landscape whilst accommodating the day to day running of an airport, not least passenger circulation and environmental requirements. These were achieved through the extensive use of innovative hanging planters and green walls. Externally, these challenges included creating an extensive 7ha forest belt that would help to passive cool the spaces around the terminal, manage surface water runoff and deliver a rich, biodiverse forest microclimate.
The challenges were overcome with a dedicated client and design team working closely together to deliver key environmental, digital, and cultural themes that were central to the project's vision. A major aspect of the design was delivering a sustainable water management strategy to significantly reduce the terminal's environmental impact, alongside a resilient native planting framework tailored for evolving climates. This included over 600 endemic plants and over 7,700 transplanted trees from the existing airport.
The project vision sets out an innovative reinvention of the Terminal experience where nature takes centre stage and the landscape supports the project’s ambitious sustainability goals. We want to create a truly memorable passenger experience that captures the spirit of the place and offers a unique and extraordinary garden journey.
A focus was on delivering a project that would resonate with the city of Bengaluru. This extended to local sourcing, celebrating the essence of the city. Collaborations with regional fabricators and suppliers of natural materials such as clay brick and stone lent a distinct richness to the passenger experience while echoing the terminal's sustainable ethos.
We wanted Terminal 2 to be a celebration of the beautiful city it would become a gateway to. Bengaluru has always been known as the Garden City of India, and our goal was to provide our city’s residents and visitors with an experience that feels like a stroll in a park. This is how the idea of ‘Terminal in a Garden’ became the most important of the four design principles of Terminal 2. Guided by this vision, we started working with Grant Associates and other partners to develop the design of a unique 'Terminal in a garden'. Along the way, we have been able to expand on that vision and have been able to make this a biodiversity hub. Today the airport not only boasts of one of the widest varieties of plant life in one location, but also helps to conserve many rare, endangered and threatened species. By making it work in harmony with the other three design principles of celebrating local art & culture, sustainability, and cutting-edge technology, we have strived to create a terminal that offers passengers a truly memorable travel experience.
BLR Airport has already established a benchmark in sustainability with 100% usage of renewable energy across the campus. Terminal 2 is created with sustainability principles woven into the design.
Traditionally, airports are always stressful to navigate; with our ‘Airport Terminal in a Garden’ vision, we have sought to change this by creating a beautiful environment filled with incredible plants from around the world. This is the only airport in the world which holds 3600 species - including almost 200 endangered species - which are part of the Indian ecosystem, native to 26 agro-climatic zones of India.
Grant Associates worked alongside a dedicated team of sub-consultants on the design and delivery of this milestone landscape architecture project: Nipek Pte, Ltd, Singapore (Lighting Consultant); Water Equipment Technology Pte, Ltd, Brisbane, Australia (Irrigation Consultants); Fountains Direct Ltd, Surrey, UK (Water Feature Consultant).
Photography: please credit Sreenag Pictures