Fifty years after the site was first proposed the design for Sydney’s second airport terminal iS unveiled
Winning design unveiled for the Western Sydney Airport to be opened in 2026
29 October 2019 | Marcus Reubenstein
It was an infrastructure project talked about for more than half a century; yet it took the very proactive Abbott Government just seven months after being elected to get it off the ground.
Now the world has a first glimpse of what the new Western Sydney Airport will look like, with the announcement of the winning design for the terminal, located at Badgerys Creek, 40 kilometres west of the Sydney CBD.
“This is set to be the largest gateway to Australia and these designs are another step to making it a reality,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “designed alongside locals, and built by local workers, the airport will deliver massive economic benefits to the region.” He added, the designs reveal a “once-in-a-generation infrastructure project coming to life”.
A statue of Nancy Bird Walton, the pioneering Australian aviator for whom the airport is named, will feature in the building forecourt.
Winning team member also designed Beijing’s latest airport terminal
A team comprising of London-based Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and Australian-owned Cox Architecture won the international competition, for the design of the passenger terminal, from a field of 40 entrants.
Teams were required to have at least three major airport or aviation projects in the past ten years; and one of the participating practices on each team needed to be permanently based in Australia.
ZHA designed the recently-opened, starburst-shaped Beijing Daxing International Airport, which comprises one of the largest passenger terminals in the world; it also designed the iconic Wangjing SOHO complex in Beijing and the Guangzhou Opera House.
Superior operations and infrastructure at new airport
While it has two runaways, as opposed to three at the current Sydney Airport, the new airport will have a number of distinct advantages.
Unlike Sydney Airport, which has an 11pm to 6am curfew, in line with most of its international counterparts, the Nancy Bird Walton Airport will operate 24 hours. Transport and road infrastructure links into the new airport are expected to be vastly improved. Roads surrounding the current Sydney airport are extremely congested and it can take up to 40 minutes to drive the final 500 metres of the road trip to the departure terminals.
Construction of the $5.3 billion airport began last year with the planned opening to be in 2026. It will cater for up to 10 million passengers when it opens; but will eventually cater for up to 82 million passengers by 2063, the size of London Heathrow and JFK in New York.
Noise remains an issue for a few
One of the major hold-ups in deciding on a second Sydney airport was to do with aircraft noise and the impact on surrounding areas. In the mid-1990s a “No Aircraft Noise” political party was registered, at a state election, grabbing 23.5% of the vote in the electoral division of Marrickville on the western border of Sydney airport. Like the dodo, this political party never got off the ground and is now extinct.
When the aircraft noise debate emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, commercial airlines were operating extremely noisy aircraft such as the Boeing 707 and McDonnell Douglas DC-8, which three hundred meters away produced around 100dB, or around eight times the sound level of a vacuum cleaner.
Modern aircraft jet engines, air intakes, fuselages and wing designs have all dramatically reduced the noise emissions.
The flight plans for the new airport will not be released until 2021. Despite the community having five years to lodge objections, this has annoyed some local politicians, particularly Mark Greenhill, Mayor of the nearby Blue Mountains.
Initial studies conducted by the Western Sydney Airport show that aircraft will be flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet when passing over the Blue Mountains. A vocal opponent of the airport, Greenhill has accused the federal government of “rushing” the project. Given the airport will open 12 years after its announcement, some might argue there’s no rush at all.
There has been little community anger, as the airport is not being built close to any densely populated areas. Many welcome the project as federal government figures say 11,000 jobs are being created throughout the construction phase with another 28,000 jobs created within the first five years of operation.