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Overview of airport terminal enhancement and design

The Skukuza airport operates in compliance with the South African regulations (as well as international policy ‐ ICAO) applicable to Cat 5 and Part 121 scheduled passenger transportation. Accordingly multiple aspects of the current terminal have 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 visual impact. 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 grasses and low water use foliage.
The airport has worked closely with the Kruger Park environmentalists 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 structures utilise 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 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 coolness 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 utilises ‘winblocks’ to keep these areas as open as possible, in line with the overarching design philosophy.

Detailed drawing and description of airport terminal enhancement and design

The requirement to physically separate departing passengers and their baggage from arrivals which was absent in the current terminal has also been incorporated in the design. The buttress features which flank the air‐side arrivals and departures access points also serve to protect the structure from any jet or propwash originating from aircraft manoeuvring on the apron area, in close proximity to the buildings. The buttress design has also featured in the main entrance and the baggage collection buildings.

In order to facilitate the various security areas and processes it is proposed to construct a new departures wing. This wing contains a secure sterile area in which departing passengers are held prior to proceeding to embark on their flights. Additional ablutions including a paraplegic toilet are provided in this structure.

The arrivals and departures node, which is included within the new wing, will be used to manage the flow of passengers particularly arriving passengers. A key element of this facility is to be able to hold the meeters and greeters element in particular for the private lodges whose trackers and rangers meet their arriving guests prior to escorting them to their game vehicle for transfer to their lodges.

With up to 12 lodges (or Lodge groups) located in the vicinity of Skukuza, whose passengers could make use of Skukuza airport, there could potentially be between 9 and 12 vehicles with 24 staff members dropping off and meeting their guests at any one time. To avoid congestion in the main terminal building/check‐in area suitably identified and approved lodge staff would have access to the meet and greet vestibule. Once guests (or groups of guest) have been met they would be escorted directly to their waiting vehicles with lodge staff attending to baggage collection.

The main terminal building area, apart from housing check‐in would also accommodate the curio shop, car hire offices and the airline and feeder airline offices. It is planned that the ablution facilities will be renovated in the style of the overall facility. A universal use toilet has been included.

In regard to the entrance to the building, this has been designed to provide covered access to the parking area as well as an area where large groups can be held and briefed prior to departing the airport, as is usual with larger conference and incentive groups etc. This area will also serve as elevated access onto which passengers on 4×4 game drive vehicles from lodges can alight easily, this is especially relevant for the infirm or passengers with disability, who could struggle to climb up to these high vehicles from ground level.

Baggage collection will take place in approximately the same area, adjacent to the car park, which previous travellers and users of the airport will be familiar with.