New Airport Terminal In Florence Will Have A Vineyard On Its Roof, Aiding New Sustainability...

New York-based firm Rafael Viñoly Architects announced back in January that it will be adding a new international terminal at the Aeroporto Amerigo Vespucci in Florence that will have a functioning vineyard on its roof as a “new landmark for the city’s sustainable future.”

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Back in January, New York-based architect firm Rafael Viñoly Architects announced back in January that it will be adding a new international terminal at the Aeroporto Amerigo Vespucci in Florence. According to the firm, as reported by CNN, the new addition will act as an homage to the region’s wine-producing heritage by adding a functioning vineyard to the roof. 

Additionally, the vineyard is meant to act “as a new landmark for the city’s sustainable future,” according to the firm

Román Viñoly, director of Rafael Viñoly Architects, stated that the project is set to be completed in two different phases. The first phase is set to be completed in 2026 and the second phase in 2035. Viñoly also stated that sustainability is at the heart of the new project, which he says should be a “moral responsibility of anybody building anything.”

“The concept of the building is to recreate the most quintessential Tuscan landscape, which is the vineyard — and then to peel one end of the vineyard up from the floor to create a slope, and slide an airport underneath that slope.”

The construction sector is responsible for 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions, while about 2.5% of all emissions are produced by commercial aviation. Arya Jyonthi of CNN wrote that while there’s been many efforts made to innovate plane fuel to reduce emissions, little attention has been placed on the actual operations and construction of the airports themselves. 

The new project’s main attraction will be the vineyard itself, which will be 19-acres and act as a sloping green roof on the structure. Research has shown that the sloping roof can have environmental benefits that will be engineered for energy efficiency and will help insulate the building. 

Viñoly stated that “the roof doesn’t start right at the bottom where it meets the floor. The first third of the length of the building is a berm (mound) made of soil and earth.” He went on to explain that heat exchanger coils will move heat from the mound into the building and vice versa depending on the specific season.

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“In the summer, when you need to cool the interior of the space, you do heat exchange into that mass of Earth. It holds that temperature very effectively for a very long time such that when winter comes and you need to warm the interior, you can do heat exchange again and pull the heat out of that soil and put it into the terminal.”

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CNN reported that solar panels and translucent photovoltaic panels will be woven in the structure. Viñoly stated that these panels are important to reduce daily energy use, and will allow passengers inside the building to see the vineyard itself. 

When passengers look at the roof structure, they will only be able to see non-fruit-bearing rootstock vineyards, to avoid foreign object damage to aircraft engines. 

“We’ve done a fair amount of research and consultation with winemakers and agricultural engineers. The building is close to 500 meters away from where the nearest airplane is. So, because of the physical separation, we are confident that the potential pollutants that might be around the aircraft are far enough away that they won’t have an impact on the quality of the wine produced,” says Viñoly.

Filippo Weber, a member of the non-profit Italian Climate Network and the founder of Italian sustainable architecture firm Weber Architects, who is not related to the project, said that while this will be a “cutting edge” advancement in sustainable features, it’s questionable whether there’s an even amount of emphasis on both the aesthetics of the vineyard, and the actual sustainability of it. 

“Apart from the vineyard’s possible high demand for water, vines are not green all year round, and this reduces their potential for carbon offsetting the embodied energy and energy consumption of the building,” Weber stated

While Weber calls the “use of a berm as a heat exchanger is an interesting strategy, [but] there is not enough information to evaluate its effectiveness, and doubts could be raised that such a shallow layer of soil will be able to store enough energy to exchange heat with such an energy-consuming building.”

Overall, Viñoly is hopeful that this new project will motivate other global airports to take sustainability efforts more seriously, and to understand that “[airports] are not simply transitional places, but they are also destinations in and of themselves.”