Foster + Partners and Buro Happold to design new ‘woven’ CPK airport in Poland

Revealed as the winning entry in a competition to design a "gateway to Poland" for the 21st century, the project is expected to cater to 40 million yearly passengers on its opening.

by STIRworldPublished on : Nov 23, 2022

As the first step in the creation of a vital new air travel hub between the cities of Warsaw and Łódź in Poland, a consortium led by London-based Foster + Partners and Buro Happold has been announced as the winning entry in a design competition for the upcoming CPK (Centralny Port Komunikacyjny) airport. Coming under the scope of Centralny Port Komunikacyjny—a development program in Poland that seeks to integrate air, road, and rail travel throughout the country—the project is set to break ground in 2023. With its current date of completion scheduled five years later in 2028, the large-scale airport design venture is envisaged as a replacement for the Warsaw Chopin Airport providing Poland with one of its largest pieces of air travel infrastructure. To manifest this idea into a tangible reality, Foster + Partners' scheme draws on the concept of 'weaving' to integrate form and function, generating a star-shaped layout.

The vision of woven expressed architectural form guides the passengers, while also serving as a powerful symbolic reference to Poland’s rich cultural heritage and the united strength of its people | CPK Airport | Foster + Partners | STIRworld
The vision of woven expressed architectural form guides the passengers, while also serving as a powerful symbolic reference to Poland’s rich cultural heritage and the united strength of its people Image: © Foster + Partners

In an official release, Grant Brooker, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners, stated about the project: "We are proud and excited to be chosen by CPK as the designers of this project. In collaboration, we will work together to create a model for the future of totally integrated transportation design. We believe that this project will completely revolutionise travel across the country and beyond. The vision of woven architectural form is deliberately and strongly expressed. It could shape the building and guide the passengers through its spaces, while also serving as a powerful symbolic reference to Poland’s rich cultural heritage and the united strength of its people."

  • The vision for CPK airport includes a landside interchange plaza that is animated by lush greenery and flooded with natural light. People would congregate in this vibrant space before travelling or welcoming visitors | CPK Airport | Foster + Partners | STIRworld
    The vision for CPK airport includes a landside interchange plaza that is animated by lush greenery and flooded with natural light. People would congregate in this vibrant space before travelling or welcoming visitors Image: © Foster + Partners
  • The plaza brings together three main modes of transport: air, rail and road. It acts as the focal point of the scheme and could support the shift towards more efficient and sustainable means of travel | CPK Airport | Foster + Partners | STIRworld
    The plaza brings together three main modes of transport: air, rail and road. It acts as the focal point of the scheme and could support the shift towards more efficient and sustainable means of travel Image: © Foster + Partners

Led by British architect Norman Foster, Foster + Partners boasts over four decades of expertise in the realm of developing airports and the larger arena of transport infrastructure, having been part of landmark architectural commissions such as the Hong Kong International and Beijing Capital Airports, as well as other ventures like Stockholm Central Station. Interestingly, the firm’s conceptual design proposal for the CPK airport bears a number of similarities to the now-iconic Beijing Daxing Airport completed in 2019 by another reputed British architecture firmZaha Hadid Architects.

The design ideas include a simple, continuous vaulted roof which intuitively directs passengers from the plaza towards the aircraft | CPK Airport | Foster + Partners | STIRworld
The design ideas include a simple, continuous vaulted roof which intuitively directs passengers from the plaza towards the aircraft Image: © Foster + Partners

The radial layout of the terminals is a common thread between the two, with this compact configuration serving to maximise the number of planes that can dock in a limited area. Furthermore, the growth of their respective projected passenger volumes on their initial opening also deserves comparison. Beijing Daxing was predicted to host up to 45 million passengers annually after its opening in 2019—with the number rising to 72 million by 2025—the new CPK Airport will welcome 40 million passengers per year after its opening, following which, its footfall is forecasted to climb to 65 million by 2060. CPK is itself one of the largest infrastructure investments in Central Europe, and the reveal of the competition winner is a crucial milestone in the road towards realising the program’s objectives.

Visual connections to the surrounding landscape would anchor the transport hub within its geographic context and help to establish a strong sense of place | CPK Airport | Foster + Partners | STIRworld
Visual connections to the surrounding landscape would anchor the transport hub within its geographic context and help to establish a strong sense of place Image: © Foster + Partners

Parallels between the two massive undertakings could help to pinpoint emerging trends in this typology within the field of contemporary architecture. With sustainability and provisions for future expansion remaining essential considerations for developments at this scale, the concept for the CPK airport imagines a central plaza as the spiritual and programmatic core of the design, Brimming with verdant landscape design features and filled with natural light, this section of the airport will be crowned by a continuous vaulted roof that shelters all who congregate under its shade. Additionally, this space is also supposed to serve as a nexus that unites three different modes of travel—air, rail, and road, providing a flexible point of interchange between them.

The pivotal project will act as a symbolic gateway to Poland | CPK Airport | Foster + Partners | STIRworld
The pivotal project will act as a symbolic gateway to Poland Image: © Foster + Partners

Minimal shifts between levels facilitate easy transfers from one mode of transit to another, with visual connectivity to the exterior provided by large openings across the airport’s futuristic façade design. According to Foster + Partners, their scheme has provisions for a good degree of modularity and prefabricated design in the construction process while also leaving provisions for the integration of future technologies and additional expansions over the duration of its lifetime. Combined, all these elements are expected to produce a result that can adapt to new developments in air travel while acting as a point of convergence in Poland’s capital.

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