How Mactan Airport beat Singapore's Jewel Changi in world architecture tilt

Art Fuentes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2020 07:12 AM | Updated as of Feb 19 2020 02:31 PM

The facade of Terminal 2 of the Mactan Cebu International Airport features wooden parabolic roofs which symbolize ocean waves. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - (UPDATE) The Mactan Cebu International Airport edged out Singapore’s Changi for an international award in architecture because it was “very confident, yet very modest,” according to its designer.

Mactan Airport Terminal 2, with its timber arches, won in the World Architecture Award’s “Completed Buildings-Transport” category, beating Jewel Changi with the world's tallest indoor waterfall.

handout photo

The gateway to white sand beaches, waterfalls, adventure trails and shopping in Cebu, Mactan Terminal 2 features wooden arches that look like an inverted boat hull, and a wave-shaped roof that evokes a tropical resort feel.

Winston Shu, principal architect of International Design Associates (IDA), said the jury gave the award to the MCIA because “the design has a certain maturity, which means you know what you’re doing, and yet you’re not showing off.”

Shu said the Jewel, which reportedly had a price tag of $1.25 billion, was "a very grand building" and that the effort needed to build it was "phenomenal." 

But Shu said the judges were also looking for "economy in manufacturing" where a designer could achieve a similar result with fewer resources. 

Mactan Cebu International Airport. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

 
“The comment of the jury at our presentation is that they feel our building from Cebu is very confident yet very modest,” Shu said in a Skype interview with ABS-CBN.

The project was made in collaboration with renowned Filipino firm BUDJI+ROYAL Architecture+Design headed by Budji Layug and Royal Pineda, and industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue.

Some of Cobonpue's clients include the former Hollywood couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Filipino-Indian consortium Megawide-GMR started building MCIA's Terminal 2 in 2016, aiming to increase the airport's capacity to 12.5 million passengers per year.

Shu said that from the start, the designers of the Mactan Cebu gateway wanted something different from other commercial airports.
 
"We want this airport to be so unique that by the time you arrive, you say: Oh I’m on a holiday."

Shu said the biggest airport in the Visayas was also designed to be resilient to earthquakes and typhoons. IDA designed improvement works on the Hong Kong International Airport, which also considered the weather. 

While the Mactan airport's main aim was to make visitors feel welcome in a tropical resort setting, the designers also incorporated green features into the building. 

Employing timber, instead of steel was a conscious effort to reduce carbon emissions from the use of metal. With its heavy insulation, the airport is also energy-efficient. Solar panels are also being installed in the facility, Shu said. 

The MCIA's Terminal 2 went into commercial operation in July 2018, while its second runway broke ground last January.