Aile Est - A new world class jetty opens at Geneve Aéroport

14 December 2021

Aile Est officially opened to the public this morning with its inaugural Swiss flight, the legendary LX022 - Genève Aéroport to New York JFK.

Genève Aéroport has modernised its facilities in order to offer passengers on medium and long-haul flights a quality of service that lives up to the reputation of La Genève Internationale. 

The East Wing replaces the long-range wide-body aircraft pavilion, built as a temporary facility for Boeing 747s in 1975, now technically and environmentally outdated. Even though it was originally conceived over ten years ago, the Aile Est is extremely ambitious in its approach to reducing operational energy with a design aspiration to be energy positive. Fully financed by Genève Aéroport, this project includes a 520m-long high energy-efficiency building of glass and steel organized on two levels.

A Collaborative Approach 
Designed by the RBI-T consortium composed of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), the Jacques Bugna architecture studio in Geneva and the engineering offices Ingérop in Paris and T-Ingénierie in Geneva, the Aile Est or East Wing building illustrates the close collaboration between architects and engineers required to deliver this clear, highly integrated vision.

The new building can accommodate approximately 2,800 passengers per hour on departure and 3,000 on arrival. It serves six existing aircraft stands with new telescopic air-bridges. The jetty contains departures, arrivals, transfer, and border controls as well as new airline lounges.

Lightness, Sustainability and Colour
Responding to the constraints of the site, the East Wing is an extruded parallelogram that seems to float above the service road located at apron level. Its main facades are fully glazed and inclined at 26° in order to safeguard access to daylight for the buildings located immediately to the south on a very tight site. This arrangement also creates a dedicated volume for the arrivals corridor on the upper level and, on the airside, ensures the façade is protected against direct solar radiation.

One key concept of the East Wing design was to minimise internal structural elements to ensure great transparency and offer passengers a breathtaking view of the Jura mountains, the activity on the apron level or tarmac, as well as the planes. The structure consists of a metal exoskeleton of approximately 7,000 tonnes of steel including floor modules with a span of 20 x 20 metres and 135 foundry pieces. The interior space is bathed in natural light from the 20,000 m² of glazed facades.

Materials were chosen to accentuate the feeling of fluidity and lightness. The primary frame is painted in light grey, while the secondary structural elements are dark grey in colour. The floors are covered in natural stone, the balustrades and vertical walls are glazed. The colour accompanies the movement and orientation of passengers along the East Wing and marks each 80m module throughout the length of the building. The materials used were chosen for their durability, their ease of maintenance and to serve as a showcase for passengers.

Graham Stirk, Senior Design Partner, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) says:
At Geneva Aéroport Aile Est the primary structure and low energy technologies are orchestrated and celebrated into one simple bold statement. Each engineering component is finely crafted not unlike that of a beautiful Swiss watch. These simple elemental components are given further emphasis by using a spectrum of colours that provide clarity as well as a festive and memorable experience for all travellers.

Stephen Barrett, Partner, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) says:
This building possesses breath-taking clarity of intent. It’s a straight line that transports the passenger, traversing the colours of the spectrum, underlining the mountains beyond.

Douglas Paul, Associate Partner and Project Architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) says:
The site constraints resulted in a narrow floor plate for a jetty, less than 20m wide, in which every centimetre is made to work. There is no slack. The Aile Est is a Swiss watch with the cogs visible from all angles.

Energy Positive Design
The RBI-T consortium project is designed to become an exemplary building in terms of energy thanks to the implementation of advanced technologies. Good thermal insulation of the East Wing is achieved by the deployment of high-performance triple-glazed facades, with additional solar protection thereby limiting the use of artificial lighting and reducing heating and cooling loads.

Electricity is produced by a solar installation composed of 7020m2 of photovoltaic panels on the roof. A further significant reduction of the energy footprint of the building is ensured by the efficient thermal insulation of the building envelope, the recovery and use of rainwater and the use of high-efficiency heat pumps. The latter produce and store the thermal energy of 110 geothermal piles that run to a depth of 300 metres and will be able to connect in future to the hydro-thermal network GeniLac, completing the panoply of renewable energy sources supplying the building.

Vicki Macgregor, Head of Communications and Marketing, +44 (0) 7825 602 738