Funchal Airport Extension, Madeira Island, Portugal

Funchal Airport Extension


Dr. Manabu Ito, President of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) presented, the 2004 IABSE Outstanding Structure Award to the the' Milwaukee Art Museum Addition, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA' and the 'Funchal Airport Extension, Madeira Island, Portugal' on September 22, 2004. The Award Presentation took place during the Opening of the IABSE Symposium 'Metropolitan Habitats and Infrastructure', Shanghai, China.

The Award recognises the most remarkable, innovative, creative or otherwise stimulating structures completed within the last few years. It consists of a Diploma each for the Structural Engineer, the Architect, the Contractor, and the Owner, as well as a plaque to be fixed to the winning structure, at a special ceremony.

The Funchal Airport Extension, Madeira Island, Portugal receives the Outstanding Structure Award for being 'a unique runway expansion project of supported concrete over reclaimed land, sensitive to environmental and aesthetic considerations'.

The length of the former runway of the Madeira Airport was a serious restraint to the development of the island, since only small-medium planes could land. Because of the local conditions, the solution adopted to extend its length to 2800 meters, was to slightly turn the existing runway and to build a bridge, crossing a shallow water bay nearby, 57 meters above the sea level.

This bridge, 1020 metres long x 180 metres wide, was designed to carry the loads of the landing impact of a plane type Boeing 747. Due to the unusually large size of the structure, special care was taken in order to minimise the visual impact of the structural elements.

The structural solution, in reinforced concrete, consists of an array of large portal frames with circular columns and prestressed beams supporting a deck slab bi-directionally prestressed. When possible, direct foundations, through large concrete footings, were adopted. Where the rock formations at surface had no adequate capacity, indirect foundations with concrete piles (reaching depths up to 60 metres) were used.

The huge volume of earthwork generated a surplus quantity of this material, so the area of the bay beneath the structure was reclaimed, which very much facilitated the construction works. Special care was taken on making the embankment, in order to minimise the impacts on the local environmental conditions.