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  • Symbiotic Vaulting: Libreville International Airport

    Symbiotic Vaulting: Libreville International Airport
    cambridge MASSACHUSETTS

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    conway PEDRON & rebecca BARTLETT: Africa holds only 4% of “world airline aircrafts,” and South and Central America 6.8%, compared with 43.7% and 23.7% in the USA and Western Europe respectively (Mackinnon 2001). Gabon, one of the wealthiest sub-Saharan countries in Africa, is posed to serve as a major hub for new air traffic that will inevitable grow as the continent of Africa futher develops. This projected growth of commercial air traffic will likely have adverse affects on the environments in which they are proposed and must address these issues in their expansion and new development.

    Inherent in the parameters of airport functionality is the need to eliminate all traces of ecology. Sites mustbe absolutely flat, devoid of standing water, and lacking vegetation, which can attract unwanted wildlife. Not only do airports require a lack of ecological systems, spatially they require extremely expansive horizontal space, displacing large amounts of both ecological and urban program when sited close to a city. While local government explored new sites for a larger future airport, we proposed maintaining the current location and adding a second runway that is raised above the ground level. This allows for the airport to remain proximate to the city without sacrificing the ecological and urban program that most airports displace.

    By elevating the runway and airport operations, we are separating airport functionality from ecological and urban phenomena that commonly interfere with airport operations. Elevating the airport program allows better hydrological, vegetal, and wildlife control within the airport site, while also allowing ecological and urban program to exist beneath and around the runway without interfering with standard airport operations.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    cP & rB: Grasshopper, Gabon, Gaudi, and Groins; mangrove prop roots, tooling; and of course our professor, Ben Aranda (Charles Waldheim/airport landscapes) and TAs Courtney Pope and Stephanie Lin.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    cP & rB: Reading Tooling by Ben Aranda, Combinatory Urbanism by Thom Mayne; Listening to Misfits, Lucero, Avett Brothers, Blue Sky Black Death, Lights, and SKBRT; watching Spartacus, The Lion King, “National Geographic: The Last Eden,” The Misfits, Stormchasers, and The Daily Show (Gabon-UNESCO correspondent segment).

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    cP & rB: Snohetta, IwamotoScott, Morphosis, Howeler+Yoon, IK Studio, FIRM A.D., Peter Latz + Partners, Paisajes Emergentes, Field Operations, OLM, Atelier-Dreiseitl, and Cao-Perrot Studio

    Additional credits and links:
    We would like to thank the La Fondation Sylvia Bongo Ondimb, Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN) and Island Planning Corporation for the incredible site visit to Gabon. Also, thanks to Jordan Hines, Rachel Moranis, Michael J. Smith, and Kevin Hinz for production assistance.

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