The new terminal building of Clark International Airport (CRK) is a finalist in the prestigious 2021 Prix Versailles Architecture and Design Awards. Bluprint interviews representatives Bi Yong Chungunco (CEO of LIPAD), Ben Dawson of Populous (lead designer of the project), and Gaylord Bongalon of CASAS (Populous’ local partner).

A masterpiece of collaboration

The building is a joint achievement of stakeholders, facility operators, design teams, and construction companies here and abroad. The building’s shell was completed by Megawide Construction Corp. in 2020, and turned over to LIPAD, a special-purpose company established to manage the operations of CRK. LIPAD then worked with Populous and CASAS for the building’s fit-out and interior design. Populous was the lead consultant in the schematic phase of planning, while CASAS was in charge of on-site implementations.

Bi Yong Chungunco: I am so amazed with our team – everyone, from the gardeners, plumbers and electricians to the teams of our key shareholders are working on this project with all their heart and soul. I’m very inspired with all the support and dedication of the teams that are involved.

Ben Dawson: What struck me the most was determination, how we somehow managed to maintain this great sense of optimism and humor.

CRK interior
Interior touches give the airport a distinctly local character.

Pioneering new design decisions and spaces in airport design

Ben Dawson: The check-in is spectacular. All the details were carefully chosen, including the carpets, acoustics, and lots of automation. The building’s double-height windows permit plenty of natural daylight. We’re really excited to unveil the feature ceiling as well.

Another area that we think is going to be really great: when you pass through the duty-free, which will be a world-class retail experience, you come out into a large events space. We thought this was important when doing the retail planning. It has panoramic views, it’s great for circulation, and allows the airport to have flexible events spaces. Visitors can enjoy popular events at different times of the year. Every time you visit the terminal, LIPAD can change those as they like.

Gaylord Bongalon: Admittedly, I’m a last-minute check in as well. The new protocol for QR check-in is very exciting, since I handle other branches as well, and often take the early flights. The events space is also a significant departure from the uniform structures of most airports.

Clark International Airport Interior
The surrounding landscape is visible from all the airport’s key areas.

Incorporating local culture and landscape in airport design

Ben Dawson: We drew inspiration from Pampanga’s stunning natural beauty. There is a bit of subtlety to the design because we wanted to showcase natural views. This is a very open airport. There are lots of opportunities to see the natural landscape. Those were our main design inspirations. We chose a material palette that reflects the area’s vibrancy, and avoided the neutral palettes typical of most international airports.

Bi Yong Chungunco: Normally, when you go through the airport, it’s a hassle. We want you to come early and enjoy. it. What’s amazing about this airport is, you can see the Zambales ranges, ang ganda. Guess what you see at the check-in area: Mt. Arayat. We didn’t want to compete with this beautiful landscape. It gives this strong sense of place: “Atin ito. This is ours.

Ensuring safe and convenient travel

Gaylord Bongalon: When we started 2019, we had a different approach. We had to revise some designs to consider health protocols, and pass the inspection of the president.

Bi Yong Chungunco: You’ll notice right away how we’ve made modifications to adapt to the challenges of working in the COVID environment. We put acrylic in all counters where there is an interface. There are contactless, self-service kiosks for check-in where you simply have to scan a QR code. You can respect social distancing, because it’s a big airport. If you want to dine inside the building, our concessionaires can deliver orders straight to your table. I believe that CRK’s design can revolutionize the way we travel.

The experience of Clark International Airport is up to you. Whether you’re looking for more commercial offerings, easier queues, or showcases of local talent, it’s a personal experience. I cannot wait for all of you to travel through Clark and tell us all about your experience.

View Clark International Airport’s current flight schedules on their Facebook page.

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