Airport _Koh Phangan

Posted by

Architectural project _Sunken Island _Award winning project | Competition site
Location _Koh Phangan | Thailand
Concept _Sunken Island

After a winding trip through the forest, the airport passengers drive down via a long, gently sloping ramp to a level of -20 meters below normal zero. This means that the tropical environment slowly disappears under the horizon and the visitors enter an overwhelming artificial space. Via a bridge that leads over a circular water basin (radius of the water’s surface = 100 meters, width of the water’s surface = 30 meters), they enter an eminently large departure and arrival area:


THE HALL is organized like a huge market place. It is a free space for every social event, even and especially for the unexpected ones. Here the passengers, travelers, globetrotters and backpackers from all over the world can come in contact and meet with the local population: A very lively place that is open to everyone and that is becoming the new cultural market place of the island. Cafés / restaurants and bars invite you to linger. A purple, corrugated glass curtain that completely surrounds THE HALL, protects visitors from the hot sun and at the same time gives the scenery an intense artificial atmosphere. The lower 3 meters of this hall are open. Through this narrow gap into the outdoor space, the travelers look at a circular water surface that radially surrounds the entire building. The backward boundary of this water basin is formed by a 25 meter high waterfall: This is an formidable spectacle of fluidity, coolness, dynamism and ever-passing time. Splashing water vapor accumulates into clouds, which are blown into the building by the wind and thus generate pleasant cooling.

Check-in, passport control for the departing passengers and baggage claim etc. for incoming passengers are situated in this hall. Stairs, escalators and a central hydraulic elevator platform take passengers to the next higher level. In all of the various vertical access systems there is integrated a fully automated security check of passengers and their hand luggage. (A laborious unpacking and opening of the luggage will no longer be necessary). From THE HALL the travellers reach up to:


Here the passengers can wind down and relax, they can work on their laptops, experience performances, cinema screenings or VR environments. They can eat and drink or shop duty free. The ceiling of this ARENA is the translucent floor of the actual departure hall. Through this semi-translucent glass surface they can observe the hustle and bustle of the departure hall like in a surrealistic movie. This 360° ARENA as a mysteriously spatial experience: It is real and – due to the size of the space and the simultaneity of non-simultaneities – virtual. It is an immersive space that stages a time between arriving and flying away.

When it’s boarding time, the passengers move finally up to:


This is the next higher level. The 75 meter high DOME increases the atmosphere of a ‘space-time’. It resembles places that, due to their size and geometry, overcome their physical hatred and lead to an intense spatial-temporal experiences. Comparable to planetariums or the Pantheon in Rome, it seems to put visitors in a state of suspense between a physical and a spiritual existence.

A kind of hyper presence occurs in that ephemeral environment.

The described impression can be reinforced by subtle and knowledgeably balanced 360 ° video art projections onto this dome geometry. From here, footbridges lead over to the waiting aircraft.


From the translucent departure hall, visitors can still drive up to a radial skywalk (radius of the skywalk = 75 meters), the glasses of which are differently colored in a 360° color spectrum. From here the visitors have a fantastic differently colored view over the approaching and departing aircraft and over the forests down to the sea.

Aerial view from East
Site plan
Exploded system section

Back to main page