3D models resolve design challenges of Oman's new Muscat airport

UK-based SAS used 3D modelling software to develop 4,500sqm of stainless steel cladding and 9,000sqm of micro-perforated wall cladding for the massive aviation scheme

A mock-up of SAS's 'bell', used for the newly launched Muscat International Airport project in Oman.
A mock-up of SAS's 'bell', used for the newly launched Muscat International Airport project in Oman.

Details of the newly launched Muscat International Airport’s (MCT) metal ceilings and architectural metalwork, and the role of 3D modelling in their design process, have been revealed.

The new, 345,000m2 passenger terminal within MCT is expected to handle more than 20 million passengers a year. UK-headquartered SAS International delivered 200,000m2 of products for the aviation hub’s ceilings. 

READ: Passenger terminal at Oman’s Duqm Airport 96% complete

SAS’s scope on MCT included the airport’s main passenger terminal and piers, cargo terminals, concourse, ancillary buildings, escalators, and adjoining hotel. It worked with consultant Hill International to design, manufacture, and install metal ceilings and architectural metalwork for the project. The firm also collaborated with the project’s main contractors, which included Bechtel and Enka, to train site installers and create a fit-out programme for project managers.

For the project, SAS supplied 115,000m2 of canopy and ‘bell’ ceilings, 4,500m2 of stainless steel cladding, 9,000m2 of wall cladding, and 10,000m2 of column casing. 

The ‘bell’ ceiling is a framework comprising bronze mesh and black steel, and has been used on the departure level of each pier. Spanning 500m, it is a 10m-wide and 5m-high system that contains a fully covered service walkway. A full-scale prototype was mocked up for the project to ensure the safe housing of utilities in the bell-shaped ceiling module. 

Hinged stainless steel wall cladding panels were designed with ongoing maintenance in mind. The panels contain entry points for staff to access built-in storage at boarding gates.

The company’s major design challenge came from the canopy-shape of each pier, which curves from the ceiling to the floor, as well as end-to-end laterally.

As part of the design, the canopy ceiling, and much of the wall cladding, feature a micro-perforated design, which provides high acoustic absorption. When specified as a continuous square pattern, the micro-peforations are “almost invisible to the naked eye”, SAS says, adding that the specs lead to “a smooth and homogenous finish”. 

Bulkheads, ceilings, and service rafts provided by SAS also feature integrated mood lighting.

Due to the complexity of the panel design, as well as the curved and multi-levelled ceilings, SAS used 3D modelling software to visualise details that could not be shown in 2D. At its peak, 25 SAS designers worked to create more than 20,000 component drawings for the MCT project.

Commenting on the MCT scheme, Pete Barry, project manager at SAS International, said: “This is one of the most complex projects ever undertaken in the transport sector. 

“A benchmark for airport construction, there are thousands of bespoke components which come together to create an awe-inspiring building. Every single ceiling and almost every panel, in every ceiling, was different. There is very little that is standard on this project – everything is individual to this remarkable airport.” 

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