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Airport wars: Gatwick to tender for design partners as firms line up at Heathrow

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A collaboration between Thomas Heatherwick and HOK is understood to be among the six teams lined up in a contest to design Heathrow’s ‘terminal of the future’ 

According to sources, the airport approached a raft of big names to come up with ambitious concepts for an innovative new Terminal Six (T6) which will eventually service a controversial third runway.

The AJ has learned that Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners - the architect behind Heathrow’s Terminal 5Zaha Hadid Architects and Grimshaw are also in the running for the major ‘visioning’ project.

The teams were interviewed last week with a final four expected to be selected to take forward their ideas in the coming days.  

In July (AJ 01.07.15) the Howard Davies-backed Airports Commission, set up to investigate how the UK could increase its aviation capacity, announced that another runway at Heathrow would deliver the most economic growth to the country, potentially adding £147 billion to the economy and providing 70,000 jobs by 2050.

However the commission’s final report left the door open for expansion at Gatwick and the Sussex-based airport recently joined rival Heathrow in the hunt for design partners for a new runway ahead of a government decision on airport expansion later this summer.

Last week Gatwick launched a tender to find design and infrastructure partners for the planning of its proposed own £9 billion runway.

The package will initially be worth up to £5 million, but winning bidders will automatically be eligible for a £200 million design framework subject to Gatwick getting government approval for a second runway. 

The Gatwick contract will incorporate critical infrastructure planning associated with the proposed second runway, including the design of the runway itself as well as related infrastructure such as taxiways and hangars.

The second runway framework is the third package of works unveiled by Gatwick having already launched two more design frameworks for construction projects unrelated to the second runway over the next five years (see box).

Gatwick frameworks

  • Airport planning services (second runway) including capacity assessments, facility requirements, layout plans and simulation modelling.
  • Architectural, structural and building services design and engineering for projects less than £5million.
  • Multi-discipline design and engineering for projects greater than £5million.

Gatwick development director Raymond Melee told the AJ’s sister publication Construction News: ’The publication of three new frameworks sends a clear message to the industry that Gatwick has a pipeline of major construction work that will satisfy all types of construction industry partners.

’We are investing £2.5bn to transform our airport and continue to drive growth, while we wait for the green light to start building our second runway. With frameworks spanning a five-year timeframe, it’s important that potential partners in the runway build are included in these frameworks so that we can keep the process moving forward.’

Earlier this month, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin told a Commons transport committee that he ’very much hoped’ there would be a decision on airport expansion ahead of parliament’s summer recess in mid-July.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • As far as I'm aware Zaha Hadid has yet to design an airport terminal, so I'd very much like to see her let loose on Heathrow - but, failing that, if Heatherwick gets involved it should at least save him from the temptation of abusing listed buildings - and maybe help to keep him out of trouble for a while.

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