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Wings Of Heritage

In an astonishingly swift 22-month sprint, Ayodhya Airport, now officially Maharishi Valmiki International Airport, has risen as a beacon of architectural prowess and community development. Spanning a sprawling 821 acres, this infrastructural wonder not only signifies progress but is a testament to a commitment to cultural enrichment and holistic community development.

In an astounding 22-month timeframe, the construction of Ayodhya Airport reached completion, a remarkable achievement. Officially named Maharishi Valmiki International Airport, this infrastructural marvel spans an impressive 821 acres, signifying a commitment to holistic community development and cultural enrichment.

The initial phase, developed at a cost of Rs 1,450 crore, unveils a terminal building covering 6,500 sq m, capable of accommodating approximately
10 lakh passengers annually. The next phase is set to undergo significant expansion, transforming the facility into a sprawling 50,000 sq m, with the runway
extended to 3,750 m to welcome international flights.

What sets Ayodhya Airport apart is not just its scale, but the meticulous attention to detail in its design.
The terminal building’s facade mirrors the architectural beauty of the recently inaugurated Shri Ram Mandir, creating a cultural bridge between tradition and modernity. Inside, the ambience is enriched with local art, paintings, and murals portraying the life of the
deity Ram.

A cultural tapestry
The Ayodhya Airport’s design is a representation of both, local and state culture and heritage, serving as a vibrant testament to the spiritual, religious, and historical influence Ayodhya holds in society. Saurabh Sharma, MD & Team Lead, Buildsworth Solutions Pvt Ltd, the engineering consultant on the project, delves into the intricacies of this landmark, “The terminal’s roof, spanning an impressive 6,500 sq ft, finds support in seven substantial columns, each symbolising the seven Kandas (books) of the Ramayana.”

“Drawing inspiration from ancient temples, the terminal boasts a rectangular base adorned with intricately carved pillars. At its zenith, a shikhara stands proudly, mirroring the architectural essence of a temple structure. Budget constraints were non-existent in this project, and the final budget experienced a 40 per cent increase from its initial allocation of Rs 70 crore.”

This thoughtful design not only showcases the city’s rich cultural tapestry but also provides visitors with an insight into the spiritual and historical significance that Ayodhya contributes to society.

Soaring into modernity
The final design of the airport was crafted to preserve the original architectural intent, culture, and heritage of the region. The airport boasts a variety of facilities tailored to meet the needs of modern aviation while respecting Ayodhya’s
rich heritage.

The terminal building, spanning 104 m x 90 m, features a unique
all-around cantilever of 3 m to 5 m. Its multi-slope structure, with a slope of approximately 1 in 35, maintains a clear height of 13 m. The terminal uses steel roof and column connectors embedded in RCC to showcase moment-resisting frames, ensuring both structural integrity and
aesthetic appeal.

The ATC Building, with a footprint area of 8.5 m x 5.5 m, stands tall at a height of 13 m. Its design incorporates intermittent levels of mezzanine floors, complemented by a sloped steel roof, combining functionality with architectural elegance.
The Fire Station Building, spanning
58 m x 15 m, reaches a height of 7 m.
Its distinctive steel construction features arch-shaped rafters, embodying a blend of form
and function.

Furthermore, it accommodates other essential structures such as substations, tanks, and car parking canopies, each contributing to the operation and aesthetic appeal of the facility.

Innovation and precision
In the journey to create Ayodhya Airport, a monumental feat unfolded, overcoming unique challenges with innovation and precision. The design phase, marked by the aspiration for expansive spans and a captivating dome (Shikhar), diverged from the conventional path. Unlike typical RCC shells, a daring choice was made – steel arch frames supported by ring beams, transferring loads through robust 30 m long beams.

One of the pivotal challenges lay in the building’s slope and skylights, characterised by a leaned slope of 1 in 35. “Meeting this requirement demanded planning to ensure both safety and aesthetic excellence.” Sharma adds, “The urgency of the project, driven by the proposed inauguration for the Shri Ram Temple, imposed stringent timelines and demanded swift resolution of on-site issues during the design phase.”

Long-span steel trusses and rafters played a crucial role in supporting the heavy Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) panels.
Sharma highlights, “However, their brittle nature and limited elongation percentage posed a unique challenge. The design intricacies required careful consideration to minimise deflection limits while ensuring
structural integrity.”

Addressing fundamental concerns such as corrosion and fire resistance, the project employed special paints with 2-4 hours rating, surpassing standard safety measures.
Steel connectors embedded in concrete emerged as a strategic solution, eliminating local stresses in the RC to Steel Member Junctions. These connectors, ingeniously sized, seamlessly integrated into the steel reinforcement tie cages.

Green horizons
Beyond aesthetics, the airport embraces sustainability with features such as insulated roofing, LED lighting, rainwater harvesting, landscaping with fountains, a water treatment plant, a sewage treatment plant, and a solar power plant, earning it a coveted GRIHA 5-star rating.

Ayodhya Airport is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by striking a delicate balance between carbon emissions and absorption in
carbon sinks. To attain net-zero emissions, the airport employs a variety of strategies, including carbon sequestration and offsetting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In its pursuit of sustainability, Ayodhya Airport integrates
innovative technologies and practices to mitigate environmental impact.
Solar panels, insulated roofing, reflective DGU glasses, and the incorporation of flora and fauna are among the
eco-friendly solutions employed to reduce air pollutants in the city. Additionally, the use of prefabricated steel
and GFRC further enhances the airport’s environmental stewardship,
ensuring a greener future for generations to come.

“It was a nice experience to go through the engineering design of this project. It gives a sense of pride to lead the engineering team of this unique and prestigious project. The design of the airport complements the newly inaugurated Shri Ram temple at Ayodhya. With a peak hour capacity of 750+ passengers and four aircraft movements per hour, this structure is adorned with elevational elements depicting the sacred city’s rich history.”
-Saurabh Sharma, MD & Team Lead, Buildsworth Solutions Pvt Ltd

Fact File
Project: Maharishi Valmiki International Airport, Ayodhya
Client: Airport Authority of India (AAI)
Architect: STHAPATI Associates
Engineering Consultant: Buildsworth Solutions
EPC Contractor: Schnell Builders
Steel Supplier: APL Apollo, SAIL, Tata Steel
Steel Tonnage: 1,100 MT
Status: Completed

Setting it apart
Built-up Girders (PEB) for Main Frames
  • Modern and efficient structural design
  • Replaces conventional trusses
Stone Façade with Profiled Steel Frames
  • Unique visual appeal
  • Spans up to 26 m
  • Combines structural support and aesthetic touch
Integration of Steel Frames with RC Columns
  • Seamless integration with RCC
  • Steel connectors embedded into columns
  • Ensures stability, durability, and architectural integrity
Big Dome (Shikhar) Supported by Steel Ringers Beams
  • Architectural marvel with an 18 m diameter
  • Supported by steel ringer beams.
  • Striking visual focal point
  • Steel rafters (beams) enhance support and aesthetic grandeur

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