Skukuza Airport Layout and Design

Overview

Prior to the commencement of scheduled flights to Skukuza Airport on 2 June 2014, the airport runway and taxi way was repaired and resurfaced. Work to rehabilitate the terminal building incorporating elements of the original structures and new infrastructure in order to make the airport compliant with international standards was also completed.

The completed airport is now able to process a total of 400 passengers daily and a total of 20 aircraft movements per day (a combination of 10 arrivals and 10 departures which include lodge feeder flights and charter flights).

The reintroduction of daily scheduled air services to Skukuza Airport, which is located within the Kruger National Park in close proximity to the SANParks’ Skukuza Camp, is a significant step forward in the process of improving visitor convenience and access to this world renowned wild life destination.

Detailed design

The Skukuza airport operates in compliance with the South African Civil Aviation regulations (as well as international policy ‐ ICAO) applicable to Cat 5 and Part 121 scheduled passenger transportation. Accordingly multiple aspects of the original airport terminal required modification and extension to bring the airport in line with current airport security and passenger processing regulations.

The key objective of the enhanced building design was to achieve minimum impact, with the new building additions and modifications being in harmony with the existing design as well as having limited intrusive visual impact on the surroundings. Accordingly the top of the roofing of the new structures has been kept at or below the existing building roofline and a principle design objective has been to blend the structure into the trees and foliage, incorporating existing trees within the new structure. The building therefore from an architectural purist perspective seeks to make its statement from its form and functionality and not necessarily the external presentation of the structure itself.

The original terminal building structure now serves as a check‐in and admin node with new elements to manage baggage processing, a secure departing passenger area, an arrivals area and a baggage collection area being added. All of this has been achieved within the existing footprint of the current building and its surrounds so as to minimise environmental impact.

Additionally the wider landscaping concept has seen the lifting of much of the current paved areas and the introduction of indigenous landscaped areas, with use of indigenous grasses and low water use foliage. The landscape design team worked closely with the Kruger Park environmentalists, nursery and plant specialists to identify protected species and these have from the outset been incorporated within the design. Maximum use is made of existing shaded areas and the new elevated decks flow into the landscaping, placing the building at one with its environment.

Most of the new building structure utilises gum pole elements with thatched roofing in synergy with the existing building, the rondawel elements are echoed in the new entrance vestibule, the new baggage claim area, the new refreshment centre and the multifunction arrivals, meet, greet, transfer and departures processing node. New floors and walkways have been constructed on raised timber frames utilising timber decking which has been grown according to sustainable forestry principles. The use of timber has thus minimised the requirement to cast new concrete floor slabs, also helping to speed up the time to achieve the overall build thereby reducing the contractors’ time on site and intrusion into the environment.

A central water feature reflects in the design, the objective being to lend cooling to the surrounding passenger areas. The interior design features complementary earth, wind and fire elements which have also influenced the colour palette adopted for the facility. The new brickwork that has been erected in terms of the SA CAA regulations and their requirement for the provision of secure sterile areas for security processing and holding of passengers and their baggage utilises ‘winblocks’ to keep these areas as open as possible, in line with the overarching design philosophy.