Mestia Airport by Jürgen Mayer H 28.04.11

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Jürgen Mayer H summarises the brief for the airport in Mestia, a highland townlet in Georgia's Caucasus Mountains: "Design an airport building in one day, to be built in three months, for up to 25 passengers, including a tower."

There was no airport in Mestia before this one, part of Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili's ambitious plan to boost tourism to the area. It is hoped that, with easier access, people will flock to the area – listed as a UNESCO world heritage site for its medieval monuments, churches and forts. Mayer hoped the tower of his speedily designed and constructed airport would echo Mestia's historic stone towers.

The architect wanted the building to look as though "it has just landed on site". The ends curl up, as though on impact, rearing up like a cobra to allow for a control tower that leans precariously back over the building. The other two wings house the coffee shop and waiting area; the structural ribs of the building define these interior spaces, which are decorated in stark contrasts of black and white. The windows, which look like they're framed in snow, are tinted to protect against the mountain sun.

Mayer's favourite airport is Tegel in his native Berlin, which has a hexagonal plan ordered around a central square. (It will close in the summer of 2012 to be replaced by the new Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport.) Mestia looks like a segment of Tegel's main building and tower that has been bent and twisted into a less brutalist shape.

The airport is one of a number of commissions in Georgia for Mayer: he is designing a series of rest stops along a new highway and a border station between Georgia and Turkey in Sarpi on the Black Sea coast.




Jürgen Mayer H



Christopher Turner

quotes story

Design an airport building in one day, to be built in three months, for up to 25 passengers, including a tower

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