Mactan Cebu International Airport

first roof structure in Asia to be completely made from glulam

The new airport in the Philippines, with the first roof structure in Asia to be completely made from glued laminated timber, commenced operations according to schedule.

The expansion of the second-largest airport in the Philippines to include a new terminal covering an area of, 65,000 sqm for international flights to 23 destinations is complete, and passenger operations commenced on 1st July 2018. The Mactan Cebu International Airport is the first public-private partnership project to be carried out by the Philippine government with an international operating company. The airport is the second-largest in the Philippines and acts as a gateway to the islands in the south, which are blossoming both financially and in terms of tourism. With the new terminal, the capacity has been more than doubled to 12 million passengers per year. The airport is now ranked among the most modern in Southeast Asia.

Timber Construction Beats Steel Construction

Originally, the planning engineer in Hong Kong had oriented their plans for Terminal 2 more towards steel construction. However, the desire to offer the arriving and departing guests something special was expressed; the desire to receive and see off visitors in a very special, resort-like atmosphere. Light architecture and the building materials used were supposed to reflect the “friendliness, openness and warmth of the Philippine culture”. For design, ecological and traditional reasons, the decision was made in favour of the most sustainable of all building materials, timber. Timber processing is something which has been deeply embedded in Philippine culture for centuries.

Unique in Asia

The special aspect of the construction: throughout the whole of Asia, there is no other airport building whose supporting and roof structure has been made completely from timber. 4,500 m³ of glued laminated timber was required for the undulating barrel-shaped supporting roof structure, architecturally striking both inside and out, with a height of 15 m and a span of 30 m. The 23 metre-long timber beam halves required for this were prefabricated by Rubner Holzbau at our Ober-Grafendorf site. The structural elements were shipped to the Philippines via the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal and Antwerp in three instalments, and assembled in Lapu-Lapu City on the island of Mactan under the management of Rubner Holzbau in only three months.

Wide Span Barrel-Shaped Supporting Roof Structure

The three-storey building is made up of a central entrance hall with three aisles, which contain 48 check-in counters (which can be expanded to 74), the largest duty free area in the country, a spa, restaurants, bars, and much more. The additional, laterally connected, wings of the building continue the undulating roof construction as a symbol of the surf off the coast of Mactan, and offer access to the gates. The arrivals area is located on the ground floor and the first floor, the departure area in the upper floors. Natural materials are to be found throughout the entire terminal area. This is how moss from Italy, in addition to various types of timber, comes into use on the walls of the sanitary facilities. The polished stone flooring with sparkling mother-of-pearl inlays is supposed to symbolise the sand of the sunny beaches of Cebu.

Convincing Preliminary Works with Test Construction

The extensive preliminary works were the most convincing factor for the company consortium. Within the scope of a design + build contract, the proposal was complemented by detailed construction plans. Prior to the actual production start, a full-size test construction with some glued laminated timber arches was assembled at the company’s site in Ober-Grafendorf for appraisal and final acceptance by the client. This was a particularly important confidence-building measure to prove the company’s competence and efficiency.

High Seismic and Wind Loads

The chief demands on the supporting structure result from the high seismic and wind loads. During hurricane season, storms can reach wind speeds of up to 200 km/h. “The challenge in this construction was building joints that had to be executed in such a way as to resist the building’s movements in the case of an earthquake, as well as the anchoring of the main girders to the concrete structure, as the bracing ends at an elevation of 6.5 m and was unable to be led down to the ground,” said Anton Wanas, the project manager in charge at Rubner Holzbau in Ober-Grafendorf. “Alongside our technical competence, we were able to convince them that we are also able to implement projects all over the world to the highest legal, commercial and contractual levels, as well as adhere to the frameworks set by regional conditions,” added Roman Fritz, Managing Director of Rubner Holzbau. What’s more, construction was not executed on the grounds of Asian norms and standards but rather under observance of European ones, which are supposed to be the most rigorous and stringent worldwide. For Rubner Holzbau, this was the largest order ever awarded for a glued laminated timber construction in the history of the company.

Timber Engineering Experiencing an Upwards Trend in the Construction of Infrastructure

Timber engineering is experiencing a strong upwards trend on the international stage. This particular engineering sector is becoming increasingly important, not only for the airport architects, IDA, from Hong Kong, but also for planning entities and constructors around the world. Due to its natural features and, also when combined with other materials, timber is opening up entirely new dimensions for future-oriented and resource-efficient constructions.

Building with timber means building extremely quickly, precisely and robustly – achieving outstanding aesthetic results under the most demanding ecological and energetic premises. Timber not only provides for a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere, but it also offers excellent climate properties and enables a waste-free recycling economy. In addition, its sound insulation properties and its fire behaviour can be easily handled, not only in commercial constructions but also in residential constructions. In the event of an earthquake, glued laminated timber constructions offer high stability and resist the strongest of seismic loads. There is no doubt that timber, the renewable construction material, will make a significant contribution worldwide towards overcoming the enormous challenges that we are now facing in terms of climate change and the high demand for living space.

Project details

Location Lapu-Lapu, Mactan Cebu, the Philippines

Completion 2018

Glued laminated timber 4.500 m³

Constructor GMR MEGAWIDE Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC), the Philippines

Architecture IDA – Integrated Design Association Ltd., Hongkong

Making of the Airport Terminal

Austrian wood, european timber engineering and an international building site