Given the overcapacity with which the Benito Juárez International Airport (AICM) has been operating for years, the New International Airport of Mexico City (NAICM) is urgently needed to meet a demand of 125 million passengers and 1 million operations per year in its first phase. This is expected to be finished by October 2020, making it six times bigger than AICM. The project –designed by Foster + Partners in collaboration with FR-EE, and engineered by Arup— was conceived as of the biggest airports in the world. It consists of the creation of an X-shaped structure that conceptually represents the X in Mexico –as well as allowing more capacity— and three simultaneous airstrips.
The task was not an easy one, given the complicated, but unique, characteristics of the Texcoco Lake soil area where it will be built, which is composed 80 percent water and 20 percent clay. Nevertheless, it was deliberately chosen due to its location, its optimal climate conditions and the fact that it saved the expense of having to purchase the land elsewhere. Subsequently, the project will involve different foundation techniques, supported by Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO), experts from the Netherlands, with extensive knowledge of building in similar soils. The structure will be made of a lightweight grid shell, which will be able to float and adapt to the compression of the soil, in order guarantee it will not sink over the years and that it will require the minimum maintenance costs possible.
Accordingly, the MX$186 billion (US$10 billion) project faces several challenges. Firstly, its magnitude makes finishing on time and budget difficult. Nevertheless, GACM firmly maintains that the first plane will be taking off October 2020. Secondly, the location demands the creation of an urban mobility program that includes extending Lines 4 and 6 of Mexico City’s Metrobús BRT system along with Line 8 of the Metro. Another 12 proposed mobility projects will extend and optimize existing transportation infrastructure in the area, which is highly necessary given the complicated traffic conditions of Mexico City. Thirdly, NAICM is expected to propel Mexico’s economic and social development, and to contribute significantly to the goal of transforming the country into a first-world-class logistics hub.
Besides all the features present in NAICM’s masterplan, its most remarkable characteristic is provided by its level of sustainability. According to Alicia Silva, Founder and Director General of Revitaliza Consultores, “NAICM is leading the way and setting an example for sustainability” by being the first airport in Latin America with a neutral carbon print. The eco-friendly construction, meeting LEED Platinum standards, will bring investors considerable savings due to the efficient use of resources, as it will be 100 percent sustainable, use 100 percent clean energy, and 70 percent of its consumed water will be reused through its 24 water treatment plants. What is more, the project will reuse environmentally degraded land.
Finally, NAICM is expected to have a significant impact on the Mexican economy. On one hand, its construction phase will create approximately 160,000 jobs. On the other hand, the whole project will meaningfully promote the aerospace sector in the country. Furthermore, “NAICM will be Mexico’s door to the rest of the world, one of the world’s most intricate infrastructure projects,” says Federico Patiño, General Director of GACM.
Mexico Infrastructure & Sustainability Review will host an exclusive networking cocktail in collaboration with GACM, with Guest of Honor Federico Patiño.
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