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Foster + Partners Wins International Competition for Abha Airport Terminal Design, Redefining the Travel Experience


In a triumph of architectural innovation, Foster + Partners has secured victory in an international competition to conceptualise the new terminal for Abha Airport in Saudi Arabia’s Aseer Region. The design, inspired by the nearby Rijal Almaa village, marks a paradigm shift in airport architecture by transforming the terminal into a series of interconnected human-scale clusters, outdoor courtyards, and walkways.

Stefan Behling, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners, described the design as a “complete reinvention of the airport,” integrating traditional Aseeri details, local materials, and terraced landscaping. The terminal guides passengers through inviting, human-scale spaces, connecting them with green courtyards that embrace the open environment. This pioneering approach sets a new benchmark for airport design, prioritizing fresh air, greenery, and natural light to enhance the travel experience.

The modular form of the terminal is strategically arranged in clusters between the drop-off zone and the apron, utilizing varying heights and tapering buildings to reflect the distinctive architectural character of the Aseer Region. This modularity ensures flexibility, enabling the airport to expand efficiently in response to increasing demand.

Responding to the region’s climate, the design optimises natural ventilation by strategically placing masses to harness prevailing winds. Solid stone walls and diffused daylighting contribute to maintaining comfortable and cool internal spaces. Foster + Partners’ winning design not only celebrates the beauty of the Aseer Region but also introduces a groundbreaking typology in airport architecture, blending tradition with contemporary functionality.

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