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Striking Birdair Roof atop Sharm el Sheikh International Airport breaks new architectural ground in Middle East

Striking Birdair Roof atop Sharm el Sheikh International Airport breaks new architectural ground in Middle East

Published: September 25, 2007

Sharm el Sheikh International Airport, situated along the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, serves more than five million tourists and travelers annually. In Egypt, only Cairo International Airport is busier.

That’s a lot of people walking through two main terminals; a lot of people experiencing the dynamic vision of tensile architecture brought to fruition by Birdair, Inc.

Birdair, known throughout the world as a leader in the lightweight fabric membrane and steel cable structure industries, teamed up with architects and engineering consultants to create canopies for this distinctive transportation facility. Just completed within the past year, Birdair provided the PTFE fabric, structural steel, cable, hardware and installation services – on time and on budget.

“No other airport in the world is quite like it,” said Peter Wright, project manager for Birdair who supervised the company’s roofing system installation. “It’s a groundbreaker for the tensile architecture market in the Middle East and a major project for Birdair in Egypt, which has tremendous potential for our services and expertise.”

Sharm el Sheikh International Airport encompasses 146,404 square feet (13,602 sq. meters), with a central boat- shaped building used for passport processing, duty free purchases and other administrative operations. It is flanked by two divergently styled tensile structures which, though different in shape, are conceived to be complementary. One echoes the adjacent mountains through a trio of fabric peaks; the other mimics the waves of the Red Sea, the nearby body of water beloved by divers from around the world.

The interior space is awash with tints of cream, beige, pale blue, coral and red.

“The idea was to reflect the local environment - the sand, sea and hills,” Wright said, noting that intricate tile patterns and arching tri-cord steel trusses added texture and depth. 

Given the arid climate, where temperatures regularly reach triple digits Fahrenheit, two layers of PTFE fabric membrane were utilized in the canopy system to accommodate air conditioning. Using this translucent material, Birdair designers also reaped the benefits of daylight harvesting, creating a bright and uplifting space for travelers venturing to and from their destinations.

But the benefits of using fabric membrane go beyond emotional response: daylighting also reduces the need for conventional electric lighting during the day, which in turn, saves on operating expenses. 

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About Birdair: Birdair, Inc. is the leading specialty contractor of custom tensile structures throughout the world. In addition to pre-construction services such as design assistance, budgeting, construction methodologies and project scheduling, Birdair provides design-build solutions in all aspects of project design, engineering, installation and maintenance. The company offers a selection of architectural fabric membranes, including PTFE fiberglass, ETFE film, PVC and Tensotherm™. Birdair, based in Buffalo, NY, is a member of the Taiyo Kogyo Group, with operations serving North and South America and other international locations. For more information about Birdair, like us on Facebook, call 1-800-622-2246 or visit www.birdair.com.