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Bird's eye view of airport in Riyadh

Foster + Partners to design King Salman International Airport in Saudi Arabia

British architecture studio Foster + Partners is designing the six-runway King Salman International Airport in Riyadh, which is set to become one of the world's largest airports.

Named after Saudi Arabia's king Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the King Salman International Airport will be designed by Foster + Partners and incorporate the existing terminals named after former king Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Airplane in front of airport
The airport will have six parallel runways

Alongside the King Salman International Airport, which is expected accommodate up to 120 million travellers by 2030 as one of the largest airports in the world, Foster + Partners is also designing 12 square kilometres of residential and recreational facilities, retail stores and airport support facilities.

By 2050 the passenger capacity is predicted to increase to 185 million travellers, with the capacity to process 3.5 million tons of cargo.

Man sitting at table in front of window overlooking airport
It will be powered by renewable energy

"Looking forward to the future, the new King Salman International Airport reimagines the traditional terminal as a single concourse loop, served by multiple entrances," said Foster + Partners head of studio Luke Fox.

"The terminal is very much of its place and connects passengers to the sensory experiences of the city, with natural elements, tempered light and state-of-the-art facilities."

The studio said the airport will function as "a global logistics hub, stimulate transport, trade and tourism, and act as a bridge linking the East with the West."

According to the studio, the design will take Riyadh's identity and Saudi culture into consideration in order to create a "unique travel experience", while also achieving LEED Platinum certification.

This will be accomplished by powering the airport using renewable energy and incorporating "cutting-edge green initiatives" into its design.

Green trees at Riyadh airport
The airport is planned to achieve LEED Platinum certification

King Salman International Airport is the third airport being designed by Foster + Partners in Saudi Arabia. Construction has already begun on its Red Sea International Airport, which was "inspired by the colours and textures of the desert landscape".

The studio is also designing a private airport terminal and control tower for Amaala, a luxury resort on the Red Sea coast, which led to Foster + Partners' withdrawal from the Architects Declare movement, of which it had been a signatory.

Cimate activist group Architects Climate Action Network had called on the studio to either pull out of the Amaala airport, which will exclusively serve the luxury airport, or withdraw from the Architects Declare climate change action group.

Interior of King Salman International Airport by Foster + Partners
King Salman International Airport is the third airport Foster + Partners is designing in Saudi Arabia

The studio is also designing several schemes aimed at building tourism in Saudi Arabia including the Southern Dunes hotel and a ring-shaped hotel on stilts as part of The Red Sea Project on the western coast of the country.

Previous projects designed by the studio in the country include a quartet of high-speed rail stations in Mecca, Medina, Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City.

More images

Overview of King Salman International Airport in Saudi Arabia