Aviation Perspectives in Phased Renovation & Continuous Operation

May 24, 2023 / Ben Dawson

Many airports around the globe are facing the challenge of going through ambitious projects for expansion and retrofits to improve the passenger experience and increase capacity.

Please enjoy our second blog post with Populous’ Aviation leads as we catch up with Ben Dawson who is fresh from attending the 18th Annual Airports Council International Regional Assembly Conference in Japan.

Hi All,

I’ve just attended a wonderful ACI Asia-Pacific Aviation conference in Kobe, Japan last week. Our client, Kansai International Airport, hosted the event and it allowed me to reflect on some of the key learnings and potentially how these could be applied to other terminals around the world.

“At first glance, the connection from Populous’ sports and entertainment architecture to airports and transportation can be unexpected, however our background in designing venues to cater for major events like the Olympic & Paralympic Games with hundreds of thousands of people moving safely through venues has put Populous in a unique position in terms of airport design.”

Just like our work underway in Kansai, most airports need to make sure they can operate during disruptions and site works. Ahead of big international events like the World Expo Osaka 2025, our design will reconfigure the existing Kansai terminal to increase international capacity by over 30% as well as increasing the international departures lounge and retail offerings by 70% using pretty much the same floor area. Essentially, we are unlocking the hidden opportunities and potential within the existing building.

From a passenger point of view, conversations around staging, enabling and temporary works are crucial both to ensure that passenger journeys maintain expected standards, and also to create alignment with long-term masterplans, underpinning incremental airport growth in a controlled and logical manner.

The idea of phased construction and re-purposing existing buildings is not new to Populous.

At Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, fans attended every match of the Premier League seasons in which the new grandstand was built and the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium began construction whilst games were still held at the existing stadium, White Hart Lane, adjoining the site.

“What Populous seek to do is marry together our technical aviation experience within the firm, together with our colleagues who offer fresh perspectives and learnings from other buildings like stadiums, convention centres and arenas.”

By working together, we are producing solutions which offer a new approach to the industry.

Kansai Airport is a fantastic example of designing for passengers during phased renovations and we are proud to see the project on show at conferences around the world now. Phase 2 will be completed by November this year and the final completion is in 2025, so book your tickets and come and have a look for yourself in time for the World Expo in Osaka.


If you’d like have a chat please leave a comment or DM me on LinkedIn, or my colleagues Geoffrey Ax or Pedro or Jack Kato.

Main image render: Populous

  • Render of Kansai International Airport, Japan
  • Render of Kansai International Airport, Japan
Meet the author

Ben Dawson

Principal, Head of Aviation – APAC / Singapore


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