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Central Japan International Airport
Traditional Concepts of Beauty Enlighten
New Airport Terminal

Artist's conception of the completed terminal building
Illustrations by Central Japan International Airport Co., Ltd.

Construction on the new Central Japan International Airport began in August. The airport will provide a direct link from one of Japan's most vibrant regions to the rest of the world and is being built offshore in Ise Bay to enable airplanes to take off and land 24 hours a day. But for all the advanced technology, the terminal building will be a showpiece for the Japanese sense of beauty.

According to outline plans released on October 4 by the Central Japan International Airport Co., Ltd., the terminal building will be shaped like a giant bird, with two 400-meter wings, each three stories high, on either side of the four-story main building and a 315-meter Center Pier stretching out like a neck. Facilities for embarking and disembarking passengers will be located in the two wings and the Center Pier, which will also contain a viewing lounge and an indoor garden.

The airport design is, above all, user friendly. It incorporates the concepts of universal design with ample consideration for the convenience of travelers. As the cross-sectional diagram illustrates, all departures will be on a single level, and all arrivals on another level, to make life easier for people trying to find their way around. Paths of flow throughout the terminal will be along gentle slopes and moving walkways that will lead smoothly to car, taxi, bus, rail, and ferry transport in a multi-access terminal. All international flights will be in one section of the terminal, and all domestic flights in another, as depicted on the second floor plan, each with departures on one floor and arrivals on the floor below. This simple and compact design will keep the walking distance to any given gate under 300 meters.

The airport terminal building will have many high-tech features, but one of the keynotes will be a use of space reflecting the traditional Japanese sense of beauty. This will be achieved through the use of modern materials to produce the straight lines and soft lighting created by shoji (paper-covered screen doors).

"We want people arriving in Japan for the first time to feel welcome and to experience for themselves the comfort, warmth, and intimacy that we refer to as wa (harmony). We want to achieve this in other ways, too, such as the manner of the people working there, not just with the building," says Chizuo Yagi, deputy manager of the Project Planning Division.

The artificial island on which the airport is to be built is already under construction. Care is being taken to harmonize with the surrounding marine environment, with plans calling for the creation of gently sloping protective banks and the use of natural stone. The reclamation work is being carried out with technology that minimizes marine pollution. Before long, the terminal building will rise above the new island, designed with equal consideration for the environment.

"Using natural light in the Center Pier, planting plenty of trees in the huge parking area, we have lots of plans for harmonizing with nature. We want to make Central Japan International Airport a sight to see," Yagi says enthusiastically.

So, the race is on to construct an up-to-date airport that is simple, compact, and in harmony with nature. If the project goes on schedule, the results will be open for all to see in March 2005.

(Kimihiro Muraoka)