Marrakech and Mumbai, a tale of two roofs

Featured Image Sources: (Left) tony_fuemmeler, Under Creative Commons,, (Right) CasaMor, Under Citation,

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport

Chhatrapati Shivaji Int’ Airport’s new terminal was completed in 2014. The airport is located in downtown Mumbai, it sits between Sahar Elevated Road, the Western Express Highway and the Mithi River. The project’s architects were Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The new terminal adds 40 million people to the airports capacity and about 1.3 million extra square meters of building.

The new terminal radiates out from one central security and passport control. The airport radiates with two arms that extend into the airport.

C:V I J A Y   K A D A MT2 COLOR PLANTerminal 2 Functional Pla
Source: SOM, Under Citation,

The most interesting feature of the building is the roof. The architects wanted the roof to emulate a densely grown forest. To do this the architects created one roof to cover the entire central hall. This single continues roof is held up by 28 huge columns, each of which carries just over 2,500 square meters of the roof.


Source: tony_fuemmeler, Under Creative Commons,


These mushroom-shaped columns have a lacy exterior which let little spots of sunlight to pass through and light up the building.

Aéroport International Marrakech-Ménara

The new terminal of the international airport in Marrakech was completed in 2008. The architects E2A Architecture wanted to design and new modern face of the city without forgetting the architectural design traditions of the country and area. The new terminal has an area of 15,300 square meters and a generous drop-off/pick-up zone for both domestic and international travellers. The airport is situated about 6km outside of the city it serves.

Source: Jason7825, Under Public Domain,

The new terminals facade is made up of interlocking rhombuses and large triangles at the entrances. The rhombus frames are filled with glass stained in a traditional pattern. These rhombuses continue over the roof where half of them are filled with solar panels and half are filled with glass to allow light to burst into the building.

Source: E2A Architecture, Under Citation,

The roof has a lot of relief to it. The roof undulates up and down at different angle making the experience of the building diverse and interesting. The roof is almost the most important part of the design, it allows light in, energy to flow and creates the experience.

The most interesting parts of both Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and Aéroport International Marrakech-Ménara is the way the architects have used the roof to create and experience. They way they have used traditional ideas and nature and use them to make the very industrial and urban feel of an airport more enjoyable. They have been able to make the roof and integral part of the design and I would argue the most important design feature. There buildings are exceptional primarily because of their roofs, bringing tradition into the 21st century.




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