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RSHP’s curvy roof dropped from Taiwan airport terminal design

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Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ signature roof proposal for a new third terminal at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport has reportedly been vetoed

Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC) has called for a major rethink of the original competition-winning Terminal 3 design amid rising costs and a trio of tenders that failed to attract construction bidders, according to the Taiwan News.

Construction of a new ‘drastically simplified design’ is now due to begin as early as May next year. RSHP’s contest-winning proposal featured 130,000 flower-shaped aluminium tubes, which would have been suspended from the ceiling of the terminal’s departure hall. The undulating roof was intended to provide decoration, noise dampening and illumination.

According to the Taipei Times, only 90,000 of the aluminium tubes will now be installed, while around 817 skylights have also been abandoned to simplify the design.

Similar ceiling details can be found at RSHP’s Terminal 5 for London Heathrow Airport and its 2006 RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Terminal 4 of Barajas Airport in Madrid.

The design revisions come after the project failed to attract contractor bidders despite being tendered three times since 2018. Earlier this year, amid criticism of its ‘sophisticated design’ estimated construction costs rose from NT$74.6 billion (£1.9 billion) to NT$78.9 billion (£2.01 billion) and completion was pushed back to 2023.

RSHP, which landed the 640,000m² job ahead of Foster + Partners and UN Studio in late 2015, is working alongside Arup and Taiwan engineer CECI on the building.

The airport, formerly known as Chiang Kai-shek International Airport, is the largest in Taiwan and the 11th busiest in the world. The new terminal will be able to accommodate 45 million passengers a year,

MOTC issued the design team with a six-month ultimatum to rework their proposals in August. The ministry’s latest decision comes after the client Taoyuan International Airport Corporation (TIAC) filed a report calling to scrap the wave-like roof last week.

The joint venture design team insisted it would continue to work with the client to resolve any issues. In a statement, it said: ‘The design of Terminal 3 that has been developed by the joint venture team was selected as a result of a formal design competition process in 2015 and it has been developed by the team, in close co-ordination with and to the specific requirements of its client (TIAC) in the subsequent months.

‘The joint venture team is committed to helping TIAC to resolve its current budgetary and procurement challenges and continues to work closely with them to do so.’

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